I have been interested in health and fitness for a number of years now and having reached my 50’s in relatively good health, I am keen to maintain it. Not with faddy diets or unrealistic exercise plans, but a life style that will have positive and lasting effect on my physical and mental health for the rest of my life.
I have put together a list of 50 tips for maintaining health. A lot of these you will have heard before, and I’m not suggesting you take up all of them, but they may offer you ideas to make subtle changes to your lifestyle that could really benefit you in the long term.
1. Don’t start yet another diet. Diets are usually useless and often cause weight gain in the long term. Instead of dieting, change some of your eating habits and think nourishing your body rather than starving it.
2. Try fasting. I’m doing an 18 / 6 at the moment which means I don’t eat after 6pm until noon the following day. During those 18 hours my body gets to have a break from digestion and concentrates in repairing and fat burning instead.
3. Keep busy. We often eat because we are bored. Try and only eat when you are hungry and distract yourself with being as busy as you can during the day.
4. Find an exercise you like doing and do it for at least an hour 3 times a week. This not only helps with weight management but will assist your mental health to. If the thought of exercise makes you want to reach for the biscuit tin, try something different; Pilates, swimming, rock climbing, rambling… anything to get you moving.
5. Try and reduce your salt intake. Get in to the habit of reading the labels of groceries you buy. It’s amazing how much hidden salt is in our everyday foods.
6. Invest in a slow cooker. Not only is it a easy way to cook, you throw everything in it in the morning and come home to a lovely nourishing meal, but it’s also super healthy.
7. Use spices in your cooking. Turmeric, garlic, chillies, peppers, cinnamon and ginger are all well known for having hugely beneficial healthy properties.
8. Drink more water. My friend helped herself do this by buying a rather gorgeous water bottle which she takes with her everywhere, sipping as she goes!
9. Cut down on alcohol. I know, its too easy to get into the habit of having a glass or two of lovely comforting Merlot at the end of a busy day. I am trying to drink only at weekends, but if that’s too hard, then at least have a couple of alcohol free days a week.
10. Eat more soup. Homemade if possible.
11. Cut down on bread, but if you can’t cope without it, eat only wholegrain or granary.
12. Eat more nuts, they are not only a great tasty snack, nutritious and healthy. They are loaded with magnesium, vitamin E, fibre and various other nutrients.
13. Treat yourself to some new work out gear to get you motivated to start those workouts.
14. Avoid ‘trigger’ foods like crisps, chocolate or ice cream. Crisps are my personal nemesis. If I eat too many crisps, I tend to overeat for the rest of the day.
15. Cut down on takeaways, make it a very special treat, instead of a weekly one.
16. Try and eat meat in moderation. You can make a lovely curry with beans, lentils and pulses.
17. Be careful consuming ‘healthy’ fruit juices. They are often sugar laden.
18. Go to bed earlier, sleep longer and turn off all your devices an hour before you go to bed. Make the room as pitch black as you can to achieve a deep sleep.
19. Drink a large glass of water before you eat. It helps to stop overeating.
20. Never shop when you are hungry. Make a list and stick to it. Better still, do an internet shop for home delivery, so that you don’t get tempted by supermarket promotions.
21. Use a smaller plate for your evening meal.
22. Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. Often when I think I’m hungry, I have a glass of water and the hunger pangs go away.
23. Learn to understand that feeling of fullness and stop eating at that point.
24. Plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Know at the beginning of each day what you are going to eat and when.
25. At dinner time, lay the table, light a candle and concentrate on your food. Do not eat in front of the television, or your devices. Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls and enjoy your food.
26. Eat raw vegetables as snacks and try going vegetarian or even vegan one day a week.
27. Contact your local leisure centre and enquire about their classes. There may be something energetic that you fancy.
28. Don’t deprive yourself if you are really craving something naughty. Have it, and then get back on the healthy wagon.
29. Read the ‘traffic light’ labels on packets of food.
30. Surround yourself with people who support your healthy living plan. Get your partner, kids and friends involved and you can support each other.
31. Remember that you don’t have to be all sweaty, miserable and red faced to be getting the most out of exercise. Yes, it’s helpful in short bursts to get your heart rate really going, but low intensity exercise also has major benefits. A heart rate of around the 105-120 beats per minute is the rate where your body burns fat for energy. Dancing, a brisk stroll or a cycle ride will all do it!
32. Make sure your dinner plate is full of colour. This ensures that you have an intake of lots of different healthy fruit and vegetables, which provide of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
33. Meditate. Researchers believe that it can help with anti ageing because it is such a stress reliever. Try 5 minutes of sitting or lying down and calm your mind by deep breaths and trying to concentrate on one thought or object.
34. If you are a TV addict, swap your armchair for a treadmill, cycle or rowing machine. It’s amazing how quickly a workout passes when you are engrossed in a box set!
35. Try a little lemon juice every day. I try and drink the juice of 2 lemons every day. I mix it with a small can of diet tonic water and have it just before my dinner. Lemon juice has great digestive benefits.
36 Have fun in life. Think positively, smile and laugh often. You will feel happier and your positivity will spread to those around you.
37. S-T-R-E-T-CH…. stretching feels great as it releases endorphins and makes us feel less stressed and more relaxed.
38. Get rid of any negative influences around you. Be ruthless. It’s harder to get/remain healthy if you are unhappy in your current situation be that job/relationship or home. Resolve to do something about it, and do it today.
38. Don’t swap your favourite ice cream for a diet version, this will just make you feel deprived in the long run, everything is fine in moderation and do not have any forbidden foods.
39. Don’t eat emotionally. Be honest with yourself and commit to not abusing food, i.e. eating when you are unhappy, unfulfilled or using food to fill a void in your life.
40. Cut down on the fat in your diet. We all need some fat but the average man should have no more than 30g saturated fat a day. The average woman should have no more than 20g saturated fat a day.
41. Eat fruit instead of sweets.
42. Walk or bike to work. Commit to not using lifts or escalators for a month.
43. Cut out sugar in your tea and coffee. Better still, try herbal teas. They take a bit of getting used to, but are worth the effort.
44. Throw your scales out. Becoming obsessed with numbers is pointless and highly detrimental. Instead consider how you feel mentally and how your clothes fit as your guideline.
45. Incorporate some fatty fish into your diet. Fatty fish like salmon are incredibly nutritious and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which may help us against contracting heart disease and being at risk of strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, and some cancers.
46. Buy some strap on wrist weights and use them when you are walking.
47. Stand up as much as you can, when you are on the phone, at work, or even reading.
48. Dance. Put on some music that you love and dance around the house. Dance when you are doing housework!
49. Make a Sunday morning walk part of your weekend regime. Take in a beach or a forest and you won’t even realise you are exercising.
50. And finally don’t beat yourself up… we all trip up and it’s OK. Don’t use a little set back to decide to give up on healthy /healthier living. Remember that adopting just a few of these ideas could make a huge difference. Keep going, and your mind, heart and body will thank you for it. ❤️