It’s that time of the year again, when we all rack our brains to come up with some amazing, bad-ass New Year resolutions that we can stick to, only to kick ourselves in the rear a few days later for failing miserably or worse yet, for never getting started in the first place. And when the year draws to a close, we can’t even so much as remember what-the-heck our New Year resolutions for the last 364 days were!
I can bet that majority of you (and I) have at least one ‘healthy’ resolution in that long list of resolutions. We all want to lose weight (or inches), workout religiously and/or lead a healthy life, but that’s far from reality because they are not ‘SMART’ resolutions.
Just as Rome was not built in a day, habitual changes don’t happen overnight or by writing your resolutions on a wall, in BIG, black, bold letters. There’s NO one giant step that does it either, but it’s a lot (a lot, a lot) of baby steps that gets you (an inch / 1 pound / a mile) closer to your goal! Below are just a few SMART resolutions I have made and stuck to over time and can proudly say it works great for my husband and I (it’s a blessing that my hubby is almost always open to my experiments :p).
1. Swap out white sugar for brown
At first, it was extremely difficult to get used to the taste of brown sugar and we would automatically reach for white sugar (and as expected, an entire pack, minus 4 spoons of brown sugar had to be trashed after a few months). So later, the trick was to have no white sugar stock at home, which forced us to have coffee/milk with brown sugar. And to our surprise, we now love brown sugar (as my hubby says, humans are creatures of habit), and also got my parents/in-laws into using it when they visited us.
2. No buying cereals/ flavored oatmeal/ breakfast bars
Cereal/flavored oatmeal used to be a regular on our breakfast menu and why wouldn’t it be, it only takes 2 mins to prepare. But when I thought about the amount of sugar that goes into it’s making, I cringed and decided not to buy them ever again. I first switched to original oats, and now to the healthiest option of them all – steel cut oats (that’s 5 mins well spent). And instead of the store bought breakfast bars, I make granola bars at home (guilt free quick snack).
3. Say a big NO to sodas/cool drinks
For this, I have my husband to thank! There was a time when I drank Pepsi/Coke pretty much every single day, and though I had cut down on my intake, I stopped drinking soda after I met my hubby (long story ;)). I opt for water or fresh juice instead. But, I do have to confess, I crave a small glass of soda when I have pizza (it just feels complete ).
4. No bottled juices anymore
Bottled juices are most convenient, agreed, but what about the amount of sugar, artificial flavors and/or preservatives in them? I never obsessed over reading labels on these bottles but when I did, I (let out a small shriek) gave up on bottled juices. I now stock up on fruits at home and churn the juicer for a glass of fresh juice, it really isn’t that much work (well, cleaning might be, but that’s just an extra minute).
5. Rice? Let’s pause and think
When rice is in question, I am a true South Indian, I love, love (did I say LOVE?) rice dishes. I can have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sambhar rice, yes, daal rice, yes-yes, rasam rice, oh-yes, curd rice, yes-oh-yes!! It’s impossible to give up on rice, so I switched to brown rice/red rice/quinoa few times a week. And when I do want to have white rice, I cook rice the old fashioned way and throw away the starch.
6. Always look for healthy alternatives
I am a junk food lover (read creamy pastas, cheesy pizzas, chocolate-y desserts), but also a health conscious freak. I try to trick ‘em taste buds every chance I get. Yes, I love creamy pastas, but who said it has to be alfredo? The rich and healthy avocado makes even whole-wheat pasta super tasty. Next, let’s talk Pizza, cheese (in moderation) isn’t the enemy here but the all purpose flour pizza base is, so I use whole wheat flour instead or better yet, cauliflower crust (oh-so-delish!). Now, onto chocolate-y desserts, I just have two words for it, dark chocolate! Period.
7. Stock up on superfoods
Not only is it important to cut down on junk food, it’s just as important (if not more) to eat certain food groups (read superfoods). They add the extra zing and turn a boring dish into something oh-so-exciting (remember avocado pasta? thank god avocado is a superfood). I have an entire section in the pantry dedicated to superfoods, can you tell I am totally ADDICTED? 😉 I stock up on them, use them in most dishes, and even snack on them.
8. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
This one’s a no-brainer, we all know we need to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables but it’s just too hard to make sure we eat enough of them everyday. So my rule of thumb – eat a fruit with every meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner (I am far from making it a habit but there’s progress for sure). I add a variety of fruits to juices and smoothies, and improvise every dish by adding as many vegetables and greens as I can.
9. Oil and ghee are not enemies, say yes please!
While proteins and carbs steal all the limelight, we need to remember that fats are just as essential. Instead of saying a complete NO to oil, I use it in moderation, say 2-3 tablespoons of oil in place of half a cup. Ghee (clarified butter), is good fat and it also helps burn other fat, yep, you heard me, and a spoon or two everyday (no complaints there ) works wonders. More often than not people shake their heads at the mention of ghee, look up its benefits and you will never do that again.
10. One cacao drink a day
I am so darn proud of this one – if you are a caffeine or Bournvita (chocolate drink powder) addict (like me) then this is it! I have always been a Bournvita girl (not Complan, not Boost, not Horlicks but a Bournvita girl). A glass of Bournvita every morning/evening was a must, it’s equivalent to your 2 cups of coffee/tea a day. But then, Bournvita couldn’t be healthy I thought, I had to find me a replacement. And bam! cacao came to my rescue. Anyday, everyday, hot chocolate craving – check, and superfood – double check (wohooo!!!).
11. Salad is good but get your spices in too
Living just on salads is really a fad. Salad is good, sure, but not every single day. More salad means fewer spices. Let’s not forget the value spices bring to the table; besides, of course, spicing up food, they have a ton of medicinal value. I try to learn more about spices from around the world and use them in my kitchen, they bring out the flavor (and add excitement) to food. Next time, try adding a dash of spice to your salad dressing.
12. Two cups of Green tea
If you pay attention to the latest (food) trends, then I am sure you are very aware of the green tea culture. Well, it’s famous and talk of the town for a reason. Green tea has plenty of health benefits – abundant in anti-oxidants, increases metabolism, burns fat, etc. It’s a part of my daily routine, 2 cups and I am good to go. Thanks to my preaching, my parents and brother follow it more religiously than I do :p. Not everyone likes green tea, it’s an acquired taste, just gulp it down until your taste buds agree with you.
13. Trade ice cream for gelato
Truth be told, I have an undying addiction for ice cream (have also gotten my husband addicted), I always had tubs lurking around in my freezer…until I tasted gelato! Gelato satisfies my cravings just as much as ice cream does (thank goodness), it’s tastier and contains fewer calories/sugar/fat. And guess what has taken over my freezer now??
14. Sip on water throughout the day
It sure is hard to keep track of how much water you drink but if you make an effort to sip on it throughout the day, you will soon realize that you are drinking enough of it. While I can sip on gallons of plain water without complaining, I also flavor my water with fruits and herbs for added benefits, or boil water with cumin seeds or carom seeds/ajwain. (There’s also an added benefit to drinking lots of water, read on ;)).
15. Keep your body moving
While we all have plenty of excuses to not work out (and yes, I am guilty of it too), be smart and keep your body moving whenever possible; shake a leg or two to a dance number while cooking or doing the dishes, take stairs instead of the elevator. And remember all the water you sipped? now, when you frequent the restroom, take the longer route instead of the shortcut. While in the restroom (after the deed of course ), get in 2-3 mins of workout – 15 jumping jacks, 15 squats, 10 lunges, etc. whatever works (get creative), its sure to increase your metabolism (times 10 a day, you are burning calories baby), HIIT all the way!
Bottom line, don’t completely sacrifice on eating what you love but choose healthy alternatives when possible and keep your body moving – healthy eating and healthy living!!!
My <3 healthy 15 are no longer mere resolutions but are now an integral part of my lifestyle. Hope some of these ‘SMART’ resolutions work for you too! Do let me know which among the 15 compel you to give ‘em a try? And I would also love to hear about your 2016 ‘healthy’ resolutions 🙂
Here’s to a Healthy and Happy New Year celebration and to a rocking year ahead! Let’s stay focused, and on track in 2016.
‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away…’
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