21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today for a Healthier Life

Healthy

You want to live a healthier life.

You aspire to be someone who looks different, who feels differently, someone who is stronger, faster and fitter than you and you can be all that.

You just have to take the first step. But maybe you don’t know where to start.

This is where you start. With 21 things that you can do today to take that first step!

21Steps

1. Replace one meal with something healthier

It’s by far the easiest way to start building a better eating habit.

Start by something as simple as switching your breakfast from cereal to a chicken salad or if you’re vegan then maybe a berry salad.

2. Go on a Walk

Clear your mind, get your heart pumping more blood and feel the sweat dripping down your spine.

Okay, I might have exaggerated it a little but talking a walk in a park or even on the sidewalk of a busy street has helped me calm down, think clearly and make tough decisions.

It leaves me happier, every single time.

3. Relax your eyebrows and Smile

We might not notice it but ever so often we can see the tension mount up on our eyebrows. Take notice and relax them. You’ll feel an instant sense of calm. Top it up with a smile and you will feel happy.

4. Take a nap

A nap, when taken at the right time can do wonders for your health.

Maybe the half an hour after lunch. Pause and take a nap before you get back to work.You’ll be able to take better decisions, perform at a higher level and maintain the peace of mind that is required to produce good work.

5. Throw away/Donate all processed food

We all have done it. Binge eat on things we know aren’t good for us just because that’s the only thing available in hand.

Get rid of the temptation and make it easier for yourself to stick to a healthier lifestyle. Throw away or donate all processed food. No excuses.

6. Spend time with a friend

Sometimes all we need is to spend time with somebody we really care about. This one isn’t going to burn your calories, apart from what you would’ve naturally burnt.

But it can do wonders for your mental and spiritual health.

7. Switch off your cell-phone. I Dare Ya!

Unplug and experience life as in it’s essence. Embrace the real world, talk to real people, connect with them on a human level and go primal!

Screens are shutting us out of the real world and this madness has to stop. Take the first step.

8. Buy a standing desk for work

The perils of sitting for long durations has been thoroughly discussed and the verdict has be a collective no-no.

Do yourself and your spine a favour and get a standing desk.

9. Join a gym with a friend

Joining a gym is easy. But having to drag yourself there 4-5 times a week is the hard work. That is the grind you’ve got to go through and the easiest way to get through the grind is to do it with a friend.

Find someone who is as passionate (or more) about improving your fitness levels as you are and join a gym that’s suitable for both of you.

That is how I got started. Now two years later, my friend has shifted to a new city but I’ve developed the habit of working out day in day out.

10. Go to bed an hour early today.

Want to build up an early morning routine? Don’t cut down on your sleeping hours, rather just get to sleep an hour early.

Moreover, you’re probably too tired from the daily grind to get anything productive done at the night.

11. Cut down your caffeine to one cup of coffee a day.

Caffeine is one of my guilty pleasures. I love Coffee.

As amazing as it works for maintaining attention and keeping us alert, prolonged and frequent use of caffeine can diminish it’s positive effects and cause health issues.

Cut down on your caffeine consumption to one cup of coffee a day. This includes giving up on all other beverages that have caffeine content.

12. Don’t drink beverages with added sugar

Sugar is killing you. Probably faster than smoking.

The best way is to cut down on everything that has added sugar in it.

However, it can be tough to go cold turkey as everything from bread to tomato ketchup has added sugars that we don’t realise is there.

Start with the obvious ones. Cut down on Sodas and you’re already half way there.

13. Cook your own meals

A lot of my work requires me to make technical decisions, financial decisions and a lot of figuring out on what to do next and all of these add up to a lot of mental activity.

Cooking is my way of taking a break and just working on something that is more physical than mental.

Moreover, months of cooking at least one meal per day has made me realise the huge range of options we have when it comes to good food that actually helps us live a better life.

And good, healthy food can taste good! Try out smoothie recommendation below.

14. Go play football! Specially if you suck at it. 😀

Can’t force yourself to workout on a treadmill or do you find the regular cardio exercises boring?

Go play football!

It’s fun, you’ll burn a whole lot of calories and you’ll make new friends. And if by chance you do end up scoring a goal, that’s a boost for your confidence. 😀

Bottomline : It’s fun. Go do it.

15. Set a morning routine

No, I’m not talking about waking up early. Studies have shown that it helps but that’s not what I’m talking about.

My advice is to set up a post-wake-up routine. Set up a routine of things you do just after you wake up that will get you started on the right foot.

This takes out the guesswork and keeps you productive.

Here’s what my morning routine looks like:

1. Wake up

2. Freshen up

3. Drink a lot of water

4. Spend time with my family, discuss the day.

5. Prepare my post-workout meal

6. Leave for gym

7. Workout, Steam, Shower.

8. Go straight to one of my favourite cafes.

9. Eat on my way there. Plan what all needs to be done today.

10. Order a cappuccino and get down to work.

16. Make a Berry Smoothie!

Berry smoothies are awesome. They’re clean, gives you a lot of needed vitamins and minerals and can be made in minutes.

There are a lot of recipes you can go with but our favourite one’s can be found at Greatist’s High Protein Smoothie Recipes.

17. Start a fitness group on Facebook

Okay maybe joining a gym is a big step. We understand that.

But it has been proved that reaching fitness goals becomes easier when done in groups. That’s why you’ll see pushing yourself beyond your limits in a spin class.

Start a Facebook group and invite your friends to join in. Share your goals and push each other to reach them.

18. Appreciate yourself

Billions of dollars of advertisements and brands have convinced us that no matter how we look, it’s not good enough.

The path to a healthier body starts with self-acceptance and being comfortable in your own skin.

If you find yourself frustrated with every single thing that isn’t perfect about you, then things need to change.

Stand in front of the mirror and appreciate yourself for the things that are great about you. These can be the small random acts of kindness you’ve shown in the past few weeks, your eyes, your smile, how your friends come to you for difficult advice, all the people that love you.

In short, show gratitude for the things that are great in your life and work hard to change the things that aren’t.

19. Take a Zumba Class

My mother and sister have been reluctant to join gyms or set up a “fitness” ritual and as a lot of us do, they were struggling with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

But that was before they started taking a Zumba class from one of my sister’s friends. They take class three times a week, they have a lot of fun and they burn a load of calories.

And now that they are putting in so much work in the physical activity, their food choices have improved a lot too.

20 . Set a Goal!

It’s time to make a decision. A decision that will change things in the long term. A decision that will set the distinction between who you are and who you want to be.

Want to lose 100 lbs? Want to build 30 lbs of muscle? Want to runs 5k?

  • Set a goal.
  • Make a realistic plan to achieve it.
  • Work hard.
  • Be Patient and give it time.
  • You’ll fail. Stay on it. Don’t give up.

And there it is. The quickest 21 things you can do today to push yourself forward towards a healthier lifestyle.

Try just 3 of these every day for the next 7 days and you’ll thank me a week from now. :)

The Ultimate Macros Guide to Carbohydrates

Carbs_1

Carbohydrates are the most abundant ones of the four major bio molecules. They are called carbohydrates because the carbon, oxygen and hydrogen they contain are generally in proportion to form water with the general formula Cn(H2O)n. They are also the most important source of energy for your body.

Carbohydrates are further divided into two kinds: simple and complex. Simple Carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products.

They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Complex Carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber.

It is the second kinds of carbs that you need to focus on in order to get a perfect diet plan for muscle growth. However carbs seem to be really less popular among people than proteins.

Most people live with a misconception that they are a complete no for a healthy living. They are often ignored as substances that cause fat when a healthy diet plan is charted out.

Carbs_1

Sports nutritionist Becky Stevenson reveals how much carbohydrates you need to consume everyday in accordance with the kind of exercises you indulge in:

  • Light activity (less than one hour per day) – 4g to 5g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Light to Moderate activity (one hour per day) – 5g to 6g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Moderate activity (one to two hours per day) – 6g to 7g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Moderate to Heavy activity (two to four hours per day) – 7g to 8g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight
  • Heavy activity (more than four hours per day) – 8g to 10g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight

Carbohydrates are as essential as proteins and when consumed in the right manner, they could add a lot to your muscle building process.

There is a whole set of WHTAs, WHENs and HOWs that accompany carbohydrates if you are planning to integrate them into your diet for muscle development, without compromising on your fitness.

Carbohydrates aren’t bad but you need to learn to separate the healthier ones from the fat building ones. Here is a list of WHAT sources of carbohydrates you should include in your diet plan:

  • Low GI carbs such as oats, beans and wholemeal bread slowly break down to give a steady rise in blood sugar and therefore avoid getting stored as fats. You can include such carbs in your daily plan to provide for one third of your calories without adding fat to your body.
  • High-fiber carbs also aid digestion and would help in the digestion of excess complex proteins you might have ended up consuming in the day. They also help muscle tissue absorb amino acids faster and efficiently. One bowl of all-bean contains 10.3g of dietary fibers that would fulfill more than half of your daily needs.
  • Although an overdose of sugary carbs would prove harmful to anybody, these simplest forms of carbohydrates are a gift for those indulging in excessive workouts as they deliver instant energy required prior to workouts. Any activity over an hour requires 30g- 60g of carbs and a banana alone can give you 36g of it.
  • Consuming large amount of meats in order to get a high dose of protein can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Here again, carbs come to your help as they possess the ability to lower blood pressure by 19%
  • Apart from helping you with muscle building, carbohydrates have a range of other benefits that include fighting cancer, boosting your brain power and maintaining healthy hair.

WHEN you consume carbohydrates is also another very important aspect. It is believed that carbs when consumed post workout have the most positive impact on your body.

  • The main idea behind this is that carbs help replenish muscle glycogen lost during workout. Replacing lost muscle glycogen is of utmost importance for those aiming for a great body.
  • In fact a delay of more than two hours in the consumption of carbohydrates after a rigorous training can reduce the rate of glycogen replenishment by 50%!
  • Carbs also restore the energy lost during a workout quickly helping you fight the feeling of being drained out and lethargic.
  • Another advantage of consuming carbs right after a workout is that it satisfies your craving for sugary high calorie food without leaving a negative impact on your body.
  • The best source for post workout carbs is Dextrose. Dextrose is pure glucose which when consumed post workout doesn’t need t be digested as it is immediately absorbed in the bloodstream resulting in the most rapid replenishment of muscles.
  • A combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate consumed post workout has been proved to be the best recovery drink in a study. Half a liter of chocolate milk is all you need in order to get a combination of all the three macronutrients.

HOW you are consuming carbohydrates decides whether it will add fat or energy to your body. There are a few ways by which one can minimize the chances of carbs turning into fat. Some of these are:

  • Eating complex carbohydrates like brown rice, potatoes, whole grain cereal and oatmeal works best for body builders. They reduce fat storage and promote the release of insulin which is essential for muscle development.
  • Eating small amounts of carbohydrates more often in the day rather than consuming them in large portions in a single sitting also prevents the storage of excess carbs as fats in the body.
  • Relying too much on fruits to balance your body’s carbohydrates needs is also not a very good idea. Fruits mainly contain fructose which is a simple sugar that easily converts into fats.
  • Another great idea is to mix your proteins and carbs in the same meal. It minimizes the chance of carbs getting stored as fat since they are immediately used to process the harder protein.

The Ultimate Macros Guide to Proteins

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Protien

Protein is one of the key macronutrients essential for a healthy immune, cellular and hormonal function. One gram of protein provides four calories. Your daily intake of proteins should be in accordance with the end results one is aspiring for.

The amount of protein required by the by the body of a person aiming for a weight loss is considerably different than the amount of protein required by the body of one working out heavily to build muscles.

Almost everyone knows about the importance of proteins for body building but not many are aware of the right sources, natural or supplementary, which would add greatly to your intake of proteins without compromising on your health.

The changes in diet or additional supplements that you might have heard of are not always the best and a healthy way of to add sufficient amount of proteins to your body.

While most gym instructors would suggest considerable increase in protein intake for muscle growth, the equation is not that easy.

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Protien

More protein does not imply more muscles. The Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends a daily intake of 1.2g to 2.2g per kg of bodyweight for muscle building (combined with hard training and surplus calorie consumption).

Proteins are made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of muscles. A constant supply of proteins throughout the day is essential for optimum muscle growth.

Making changes in your diet plan will help you get the right amount of proteins to stimulate your body building process.

There are numerous sources of proteins but not all of them will help you get the desired results.

Whole Foods (Natural Sources)

Natural protein containing foods can also be further divided into three kinds:

High Protein Food

High Protein Foods include red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, meats, seeds, cheese, yogurt and beans. These foods contain 20% protein or more.

However consuming them in excess wouldn’t be beneficial and might instead cause intestinal auto-intoxication.

Medium Protein Food

Medium Protein Foods include grains such as rice, wheat, oats, millets and barley. They contain only 6% – 14% proteins and are therefore an incomplete source.

Such foods should be combined with other proteins rich foods to fulfill daily requirement.

Low Protein Foods

Low Protein Foods include fruits, vegetables and juices. These contain less than 5% protein.

Relying on a low protein diet is not helpful for any active person let alone one trying to build muscles. Still, they can always be used as an additional source of protein.

While there are a range of natural sources of proteins to choose from, most body builders are recommended supplements for a quick benefit.

Protein Supplements

These include protein powders, protein bars, meal replacements, pre-digested or hydrolyzed proteins and amino-acid supplements.

However not all of these supplements are as safe as the natural ones. While some are harmful, others are misleading! The most popular protein supplements are Soy and Whey.

Whey Protein

Whey Protein serves a number of potential health benefits. Whey helps to lose a significant amount of body fat and preserve muscles. It also increases muscle strength by increasing fat free mass in the body.

Research shows that a regular intake of whey protein helps fight stress and cancer and strengthens the immunity system as well.

Whey definitely has a lot of benefits. However a little known fact is also that it contains toxic forms of nickel and copper.

In fact when taken with a smoothie or a shake, as suggested to beginners by many gym instructors, Whey tends to form bad food combinations.

Soy Protein

Soy milk is used as another low-fat high-protein substitute of dairy products. The most popular protein drinks and bars are often made from soy.

Soy however is not a particularly high quality source of protein even though technically it is a complete protein.

Soy is always processed for human consumption which damages the protein structure a lot. It also contains too much copper, low zinc, enzyme inhibitors, thyroid inhibitors and other toxic residues.

The disadvantages of popular protein supplements cannot be overlooked in the face of their short term benefits. Being aware of what you consume and how it impacts your body is the most essential move towards building a great physique.

Therefore relying solely on protein supplements on your shortcut to body building is not that great an idea.

Scott Baphi, a physique and sports nutrition specialist and a natural body builder also suggests the same. According to him one should:

“Aim to consume a range of protein-rich foods with as much variety as you can, including meat, fish and dairy products. If a vegetarian, you can replace the meat and fish with beans and pulses.

Mixing up your protein sources will help to ensure you benefit from a range of amino acid profiles – and it will also help you keep your diet interesting.”