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January is nearing it's end - time to check in with yourself and really look at how those resolutions are coming along. Be honest - are you on your way to a healthier month, year, and life? I hope so! In an effort to help keep you on track and make this year THE year you develop those healthy habits once and for all, here are some of my favorite ways to swap in healthier choices in your everyday life.
Soda for Flavored Water
This one is obvious, but swapping out soda for more water in your diet has got to be one of the best ways to choose to be healthier. Soda, even the diet ones, are filled with nothing but sugary flavoring and carbonated water. No nutrients there. In fact, they're the opposite of nutritious - high-fructose corn syrup anyone? So quench your thirst with good ol' water. Need a little flavor added? Try it with some lemon, cucumber, or mint! Strawberries and oranges make great additions, too.
Still in need of a carbonation kick? Try some seltzer water or club soda. Be wary of tonic water though - it DOES have calories, and that can add up if you're guzzling glass after glass. (For info on the difference between seltzer, club soda, and tonic water, click here.)
White for Whole Grain
Here's another obvious swap: refined grain products (like white bread/pasta) for whole grain. Choose whole grain anything when you can - pasta, bread, flour, english muffins, crackers, the list goes on. Some simple reasons that this is a healthier choice are: 1) they are more heart-healthy; 2) they contain more fiber; 3) more protein; and 4) more vitamins and minerals. I won't go into too much detail, but if you're curious to learn more, check out the Whole Grain Council's article here.
Ground Beef for Ground Turkey
Don't get me wrong here, I like beef, I love steak, and I do enjoy a true hamburger every now and then. Overall, though, I usually sub in ground turkey for beef in my day to day meals. Why? Saturated Fat content mainly. Ground turkey typically has less saturated fat than beef, but be smart when you buy it. Look at the label. And buy ground turkey breast when you can. I usually like to buy the 99% lean stuff when I'm adding it to chili or chunky pasta sauce. For turkey burgers, meatballs, or anything that requires the meat to stick together, I go for the 93% lean - a little bit of fat will help it stay together nicely.
Television for Walking
Okay, hear me out. I'm not suggesting completely swapping out TV for movement (although that would be nice!). My suggestion is to swap out 10 minutes of TV time for a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood. Get your family and yourself up off the couch and outside. But the weather isn't great today, or it's too cold, you say? No excuses! Try one of my mini workouts you can do anywhere to get the muscles working instead of plopping yourself down on that couch. Ready? Go!
Closer for Farther
Yet another one you might hear a lot, but I really think it helps! I know we're all busy, running errands and getting where we need to be. Sometimes we don't have enough time to fit in a whole workout in our day (myself included!). That doesn't mean you can't swap in other ways to get more movement! Instead of parking in the closest spot you see, park farther away. You'll add more steps to your day, and if you do this at every destination during the week, imagine how many additional steps that could be!
Negative for Positive
This might be my favorite one in the life swap category. Along your health and fitness journey, you might encounter some negative thoughts creeping into your daily internal dialogue. Allow those thoughts to come into your mind, but then release them and replace them with something more positive. Positive self-talk does wonders for the body and the mind. For some positive, uplifting quotes, click here (they're pinnable!).
Hope those swaps help you with your health and fitness goals this year! Remember, take things one healthy choice at a time. Try starting with one swap per week. Keep the swaps going and add another one in the next week. If you keep that up, before you know it you'll develop these into healthy habits to add to your repertoire and enhance your results. Good luck! Let me know how they go!
Readers: chat with me! Are there any swaps you love that you don't see here? Post them in the comments and let me know what they are! I'd love to hear!