13 Tips to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits

Remember those goals and intentions you made way back in the new year? Did any of them stick? It can be so easy and exciting to create new goals for yourself, but where it gets difficult is maintaining healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Creating healthy habits for yourself (and your family) and making them a part of your lifestyle is not only good for your health, but also important for your self-esteem and confidence.

But first, what healthy habits are we talking about? We’re talking about the ones that generally make us feel like our best self. These include:

  • Nourishing your body with good-for-you food. What the definition of that is up to you to decide. But either way, you should make finding out what foods make you feel the best and give you the most energy a priority.
  • Moving your body: Exercise has more to do with moving your body to increase the feel good endorphins than it has to do with losing weight. Every body benefits from exercise and it builds confidence.
  • Finding balance in your life. It’s so easy to run yourself ragged in this busy life, but finding balance is key to creating a healthy life.

How to Maintain Healthy Habits Now That January is Over13 Tips to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits

After reaching out to our readers on social media we asked: “What is your biggest hurdle to maintaining a healthier lifestyle?” and so many of you responded with similar struggles: not having enough time, difficulty keeping up with exercise goals and staying on track with good-for-you food choices. We’re going to try to break it down and give you our best 13 Tips to Help You Maintain Healthy Habits that last a lifetime.


1. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your victories. This is the most important tip we can offer. Beating yourself up over your perceived “failure” is absolutely no way to maintain any type of habit except the habit of negativity. Celebrating what you have achieved, no matter how small!

2. Make a plan. Write down what it is you want to achieve and break it down into really simple tangible goals. Just thinking “I want to eat healthier” is not enough. Get specific with your goals. If it is to “eat healthier” write down the foods you want to eat and even why it is you want to eat them. If you are looking for more balance in your life write down what time of the day you want to stop all work related activity so you can truly focus on other parts of your life.

3. Just get started. Now. Take any possible small step you can towards your goal. If your goal is to get to the gym in the day, put your gym clothes on! You are now one step closer to getting there. If your goal is to eat more vegetables pack some cucumber sticks with you at the start of the day. Don’t wait for tomorrow to start. Do it as soon as you possibly can with the smallest step you can manage if that is where you are it.

4. Try to accomplish less. This may seem counterintuitive but stick with us. Your plate can only handle so much, figure out what fits on yours and get rid of the rest. This applies to not only your health goals but also other areas of your life. If your health goals are meditating, starting a workout routine, getting dinner on the table, making time for friends, and ten other things, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed. Say no as often as you can for things that don’t accomplish your true health priorities. Stop being so busy and to try to be more productive with what is important. You don’t have to do it all! Pick 1-3 things you can do each day that pushes you closer to your bigger goal: that can be as simple as getting a healthy meal on the table. 

5. Focus on the habit, not the result.When we think about healthy habits it is usually attached to a result (such as losing weight or getting 8 solid hours of sleep). Instead try to focus on the habit itself that will get you to your goal. Just “show up” with what it is you need to do and make that a habit first, and then work out the rest of the details later about how to get to your goal.

6. Make sleep a priority. Chronic fatigue can lead to poor health, poor choices and just generally not have the energy to do what you want or need. Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Use apps and timers and technology to make sure you get enough sleep.

7. Stress management. Everybody knows this but it’s worth putting on this list. You have to find a way to keep stress down as that can affect your health and the ability to make good choices for yourself. Use mediation or breathing apps to help you slow down throughout the day, say no as often as you can (see #4) to the things that don’t accomplish your big goals and yes to the things as often as you can that make you happy and less stressed. Ask yourself what those things are and start to pay attention to them.

8. Moderation. We’re all about this one. Don’t set yourself up for failure by being overly ambitious or having unrealistic goals. If you’ve set a goal for going to the gym 5 days a week, and previously you only went 1 (or zero) days a week, that’s a lofty jump. So be realistic, be easy on yourself, and remember that more isn’t always better. If your goals or intentions feel overly restrictive, it’s going to be harder to accomplish.

9. Surround yourself with people who encourage your goals. Try to build up the positivity in your life, because negativity is contagious. Tell who you are comfortable with about your new lifestyle habits so they can help keep you accountable, or even better join in with you!

10. Lead by example. Healthy habits are contagious. If your family isn’t on board at first, you have to be the one to start. It can be so hard if you are the only one doing it, but look at it like you are the one that is going to lead the path to contagious healthy habits for not only yourself but the rest of your family. Just like taking on bad habits can be contagious, so can catching good ones. For kids, get them involved with choosing and cooking healthy meals and making movement a fun family activity as much as possible.

11. Meal prep. Whether you are happy with your current food habits or not, making a plan for meals is key to balancing life! Do some planning and prepping that won’t keep you overwhelmed in the kitchen for 6 hours on a Sunday, but do-able so you can have items in the house ready to go. If you don’t have as much time to cook look into healthier prepared ingredients that make dinner a snap, such as: jarred pasta sauce, frozen meatballs and prepared zucchini noodles. Plan out the week and think about leftovers for lunch, what you already have in the freezer, and more. Download this weekly menu planner we created to get organized! Try to plan one week ahead so you just have to go to the store once, or use grocery delivery to check that chore off your list.

12. Have a back up plan. Always have an emergency back up of some time of food or snack that is good for you in case all else fails and your stuck on a dessert island with nothing to eat. But seriously! Stash an energy bar or other shelf stable snack in your purse or work bag at all times. Some ideas: nuts, trail mix, jerky, dried fruit, nut butter packs. 

13. Learn how to swerve. Pay attention to how you feel and change directions if you need to. Are you overwhelmed? Do the habits fit with your lifestyle? Is it easy to maintain your new habit without severely impacting other areas of your life? If you find that you haven’t kept up with your new plans as you’ve hoped, don’t get upset! Acknowledge and give yourself some love for even noticing and having the awareness that you need to reevaluate your plan of action!


How to Maintain Healthy Habits

Acceptance: The Things You Cannot Change

This was a really difficult post for me to write, and an even harder one to publish. I’ve been wanting to share with you some things going on with me personally health-wise, but not only is it hard to open up and to share vulnerabilities, it’s even more difficult when you are right in the thick of things. It’s also super hard when you’ve worked so hard on a healthy lifestyle and are going through some major health issues. BUT I always try to be real with all of you and this community we have built together, so it didn’t feel right not to open up about it.

So here we go…

I started Lexi’s Clean Kitchen in 2013 to share recipes, to share my journey of how clean eating and real food changed my life, my gut health, and issues I was dealing with then. Eating clean and living a healthy lifestyle is something we have control over, it is amazing, it’s powerful, but it’s certainly not the end-all-be-all of optimal health, and there are certainly things in our life that we simply cannot control.

I thought, if I can’t offer a solution, like I did with healing my gut issues, then I shouldn’t open up and share. But then I thought, I certainly don’t want others to be under the impression that if they simply eat clean, that everything will magically be perfect and healed. That was certainly not the message I wanted you to get from me.

It’s vulnerable opening up to the world, let alone dealing with it privately as well.  But with the recent passing of iconic Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, it’s apparent more than ever, that nobody is untouched, nobody is perfect, that having it all doesn’t mean you have it all together, and that we all have our shit.

Many of you that follow me know some of the things that I have going on that I have talked about publicly for a while now. I have Candida overgrowth, the MTHFR gene mutation, some heavy metal issues, and a few other things, but recently was diagnosed with Lyme Disease along with discovering that I have a hereditary, genetic disorder that is effecting my physical movements and that can potentially progress (I will share more on this one day when I’m ready), but for example, I can no longer wear heels (and if you know me, you know I love my heels!), and sometimes walk a little funny. It’s been a really hard number of months dealing with everything emotionally, but I am finally ready to share this glimpse of it with you. I need to change my language of how I am talking about it, connect with my inner-self, and find peace with it all. Honestly? I currently have a big sense of embarrassment around it but even though it is now a part of me, I am not going to let this define who I am

I am someone who has always protected myself by avoiding things that were going on in my life. I am good at putting on a happy smile and a la-de-da vibe, and carrying on. I needed that protector at points in my life and am grateful for it, but now that I can’t ignore and avoid certain things going on in my body and my mind, my emotions have been all over the place. It’s like dealing with everything I’ve suppressed for all of these years, on top of all the new found things happening. It’s been really, really hard.

Why am I sharing all this?

For starters, I want you to know you are not alone in whatever you are dealing with. We are all dealing with things, despite the perfect image social media might project. I want you to be able to give yourself compassion, to take things day-by-day, and of course I want you to know I am human too and that I am certainly not perfect. I think that sometimes being vulnerable and sharing/helping others can lead to personal acceptance. Another part of why I am sharing.

See, that’s been hard for me. I care what people think (ugh, why do we as humans spend so much time on this?), I don’t want people to see me as less than or not capable. But the thing is, I am capable. I am strong. I am enough. I am still the same Lexi. Regardless of what I have going on. This is even still hard for me to process. Yes, I may have issues setting me back, but it’s so in my head and me giving it all the power in the world (which I have been), and giving it so much of my thoughts, is not healthy. 

See you go through stages when something major happens to you or you are going through something major. You go through denial, then grief (in this case for me the loss of some freedom, the unknown of the future), and then hopefully and ultimately acceptance and coping. This is the part I’m working on.

Though not super religious, this Serenity Prayer really resonates with me.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

It feels good to have answers to what has been going on, but it’s also scary and hard with so many unknowns. My therapist months ago said to me that I need to take things one day at a time, since I was/am constantly worrying, predicting the future, and ultimately driving myself crazy. Literally, such a simple line has really changed my perspective. I am taking each day as it comes, being grateful for all I have, loving the life I have built, and will conquer what continues to get thrown at me.

So what am I doing now?

  • I’m going to therapy (it’s amazing and I recommend it to everyone).
  • I’m working with my doctors and functional medicine doctors who I trust.
  • I am working on opening up my detox pathways through supplementation, epsom salt baths, using the infrared sauna, and more.
  • I am dealing with the lyme in the way my doctors and I have decided is the best course of action for me (Friendly Note: I am not a doctor, so please talk to yours for the best course of action for you).
  • I am working on finding peace and acceptance with the unknown of my genetic disorder.
  • I am going to really find my meditation practice, doing light exercise daily, and living a less stressful lifestyle.
  • I am focusing on getting enough sleep.
  • I am getting rid of toxic relationships that don’t serve me, and that don’t lift me up.
  • I am going to try some alternative things like acupuncture, cryotherapy, and energy healing.
  • I have been and am continuing to make my environment safer and less toxic. More on that in this post
  • Keeping up with my clean diet is a major part of the path to healing, so this has and will continue to be a major focus for me.
  • And ultimately living and enjoying my life that I love, having some balance, and taking the hard parts day by day.

My Takeaway:

I truly believe in the power of food.  I believe that food brings us together, that food can heal, that food can create a sense of tradition and culture, and that food can be a catalyst for living a full, energized life. I really believe that eating real, whole foods has not only changed my life back in 2013, but has helped me MAJORLY manage the things I have going on right now. But ALSO know that there are things it won’t cure and fix. There’s never a magic pill, but also know that it is one of the things, along with managing stress, getting quality sleep, switching to safer products, listening to our bodies, and so on — that we do and can have control over. Simply, we do our best. We control the things we can, and we manage what we cannot.

Lexi’s Clean Kitchen is mostly filled with nourishing recipes, but there are also tips for living a healthy lifestyle, travel guides, lifestyle posts, safer beauty and skincare, and so much more. I wanted to share all of this, though I know some people may say to ‘stick to posting food’, because I have been isolating myself and holding it in, rather than stepping up and embracing it and embracing the love around me, and that includes all of you. I feel grateful for my supportive family and friends who are there when I just want to cry, listen when I want to talk, and are just there to be there when they know I just need to NOT talk about it all. This community has become my home, I have and always will treat you all as my second family, and I am so grateful that we can go through life hardships together, pulling each other up, inspiring one another, and bringing positive energy to the hard times in life. 

“When you deny the story, it owns you. When you own the story, you get to write the ending.” — Brene Brown

So my friends, let’s write the ending to our stories 🙂 If you are struggling, you are not alone. Have compassion for others and yourself and let it fill your heart, ask others how they are doing, and even harder, ask for help if you need it. Be conscious of things you say that may effect someone, and just always, always be kind. And please know you are not alone in whatever you may be dealing with, no matter how big or small. It does not define who you are.


Disclaimers: 1. I am not a doctor, so I am not fully sharing when you ask me what I supplements I’m taking, what my protocol is for lyme, detox, and so on. Our situations and bodies are all so different and taking things without knowing what’s going on in your body can be reckless. I encourage you to seek out medical professionals, healers, functional medicine doctors, and more, who you trust.

2. This post was really hard for me to share, so please, please keep the comment section kind. While I know your opinions and suggestions for certain things (like the lyme), is because you truly care, it can be extremely overwhelming to get an influx of opinions and recommendations of things to test for, try, and ultimately worry about. Know that I say this with all the love in my heart, but when I need a recommendation and opinions, I will 100% ask you for it. It’s all new and something I am going through currently. I don’t have all the answers, but I am working hard on healing myself physically and emotionally, gaining acceptance, and am working with good people that I trust, so I just ask you to respect that. 


I will certainly keep you all posted on this health journey. Love you all and truly, truly grateful for you and your support. And thank you for read this essay (haha)!

Your friend,

Lexi

Canyon Ranch Lenox: Weekend Getaway

Mike and I had the greatest weekend. On Friday night we drove up to Lenox, MA to the gorgeous Canyon Ranch for a little pre-birthday celebrations! We arrived late, were greeted by the most friendly staff, had a quick dinner (they packed us gluten-free cookies to-go in our room), and we went to relax before a fun-filled day ahead.

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We woke up and explored this gorgeous place. It is so serene, quaint, friendly, and relaxing.

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We walked down, sat on some adirondack chairs overlooking the woods and rocked (in the words of Emily from Zivamind) a 15-minute meditation to kick start a day of fitness, relaxation, and wellness.

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We ate phenomenal food, took awesome fitness classes, got pampered in the spa, and got to take in the gorgeous views of Lenox. At night, they have quite the epic DVD collection filled with old and super new movies. Since the lovely staff always gave us soft, delicious gluten-free cookies to go, the nights were relaxing and filled with cookies and movies in bed, something we never ever get to do!  It was delightful.

All in all, it was truly a fantastic weekend getaway, and with all there was to do- over 40+ indoor and outdoor fitness activities daily, workshops, talks, treatments- I could totally have seen us staying for days and days! 

The Food

There are two main restaurants at Canyon Ranch. The Dining Room (where we ate dinner the first night and lunch the following day) and The Cafe (where we are breakfast both days and dinner Saturday night). The Cafe is new. It is farm-to-table style, and also where you can grab a snack throughout the day, a cappuccino, a smoothie, and so on. Of course, The Cafe was right up my alley and we loved loved loved it there. Especially Sunday brunch because… brunch!

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I’m merging together breakfast (Saturday) + brunch (Sunday), because they were both just so fantastic. I started each day with an almond milk cappuccino and went from there. The accommodations for gluten/grain/dairy-free were beyond amazing. I was greeted with a full ingredient list of every single food at CR upon arrival, down to the brand of tomato sauce they use! They had three different types of almond milk, local maple syrup, coconut water for the smoothies. Everything down to the T!

The breakfast you ordered, with the open bar to help yourself to other things, and the brunch was station buffet-style. 
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Everything was beyond delicious! We grabbed a quick lunch on Saturday, and then got right back into our day of fitness and the spa! 

Dinner at The Cafe was a highlight for sure. I loved seeing where a variety of the food I was eating came from. What is better than that? It is so apparent how much the chefs value their food and their expertise.  

Bravo to the CR Lenox chefs. It was truly amazing seeing your craft in action. 

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P.S. There is no alcohol served at Canyon Ranch. I actually really enjoyed this little detox aspect.

The Fitness  

CR Lenox is different then any spa I’ve been to. It is super focused on fitness, wellness, and health out of just the food and the spa. There were lectures on sleep, an integrative medicine practice where you could actually get tests done right there, and so much more. 

I took a circuit class, spin class, and a yoga class. Now I’m not the biggest Yogi but I am making an effort to get more into it, so I decided to take a class. Antoinette was the teacher and she was beyond amazing. I loved her nature, energy and the vibes of the class. I wish she was here in Boston! Mike took a meditation workshop, a yoga class (more intense than mine), and a kettlebell class which ended up being one-on-one since he was the only person who showed up! 

I really loved the classes, and also loved spending time in the Women’s Spa. Sauna, steam room, hot tub, relaxation area, and more. Total bliss.

Another highlight that we loved was the natural “sports drink” in the fitness area. Seeing the word Sports Drink you can imagine what I thought the ingredient list would look like, but I was in fact wrong! A blend of iced teas, orange juice, white grape juice, lemon oil, and sea salt. That’s it! We added a little to our waters to fuel us through the day. I think I’ll have to recreate this one for all of you 🙂

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 Next time, we’ll stay for longer and get outside for one of the hikes and other activities that we couldn’t fit into our stay! 

The Spa

Mike and I both got massages, mine an 80-minute deep tissue and his a 50-minute Swedish. I also got a deep cleansing facial which was phenomenal. I loved the spa area of CR and the awesome, knowledgeable staff there!

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Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post, but did receive complementary amenities. All opinions are 100% always my own! 

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My Gluten-Free (Amongst Other Things) Journey

I realize that many of you know what I don’t eat, but may not know why I changed my diet, the challenges I’ve faced in doing so, where I’m at now, or my top 5 tips (plus I’ll also share some reader favorites)! 

I’ve been eating gluten-free (amongst other things-free) for almost two years now.  In January of 2013, I was tired of the constant bloating, stomachaches, and major digestion issues that began affecting my day-to-day.  I literally didn’t want to go out some nights due to how uncomfortable I felt (gassy and constipated, to give you too much information). Probiotics did the opposite of what they were intended to do for me, along with basically everything else I had read to do (no prunes, nothing)! 

I knew I needed to make a change and decided to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet.  I decided to regularly include exercise, focus on eating real foods and ditching the processed junk.  Mike was in shock when I actually didn’t reach for the bread basket at dinner, or put cheese in our eggs.  Literally, he was shocked, but I knew I needed to finally do this.  

 After a week or so I was already feeling so different, I couldn’t even believe it.  At the time it got me 85% there, or to where I’d hope to be, but I knew I could do better.  I’ve kept pushing to figure out what worked and what didn’t work for my body, and that’s what it is all about… listening to YOUR body.  

I think how I initially healed my leaky gut was by being strict.  I really didn’t eat gluten-free baked goods at the time, even moderately.  I was so focused, and with constant working at it (I still am), and different experimentation with various eliminations, and additions of supplements, etc., I’ve rid myself from all of those previous symptoms.   Now, I can have these things once in a while, but in the beginning I think it would have slowed down the healing process.  

I now avoid grains, refined sugars, soy, gluten, dairy, and often nuts. I also try and eat a low FODMAP diet. I buy local as much as possible, and rarely ever buy packaged, processed food.  I do this in response to listening to my body. I’ve found that this is what works best for me.  

What about present day? I have changed my life, but I am always still learning, adapting, and working towards optimal health. And I still have unanswered questions like: Why does my body react to bad oils when eating out? Why isn’t my skin awesome? What triggered my gut inflammation to begin with? I’ve recently started seeing a functional medicine practitioner to work on answering these questions.  You see, I’ve coped amazingly with everything thus far, but now it’s time to figure out some of the underlying causes! Where to Start

This journey for me has been incredible. I’ve met amazing people, I’ve changed my life, and I know I will only grow more and learn from here.

5 tips when adjusting your diet

Where are you on your journey? Remember, start slow and don’t drive yourself crazy with 1,000 new limitations off the bat.  It’s a process, and one you’ll want to do successfully and not feel stressed or overwhelmed about!

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Technology Break: 5 Things To Do Daily

When the lovely folks at smartwater told me about their upcoming #lookupsweepstakes on Instagram, I was immediately inspired. I place a huge importance on sleep and down time as part of my healthy lifestyle. Sleep, removing stress, and making time to do what you love are key. A stressed out life lacking sleep and relaxation is by no means healthy! Yet, I honestly can’t say I always put this into play.

My days are pretty jam packed, and while I am doing everything I love: teaching elementary art, exercising, cooking, photographing, and blogging; it rarely leaves time to sit, relax (without a smartphone, laptop, or tablet), and take in the world around me. For months now I’ve been telling Mike that I want to fit time in to relax and meditate, but the days roll into each other and that hasn’t quite happened yet.

This challenge was perfect for that. The idea is to take quick technology breaks throughout the day by getting up from your laptop or looking up from your cell phone to raise your gaze to the sky and the world around you. I did just that. School ended for the summer, and while my planner is just as packed, I got home I sat on my porch and then on my hammock and took in the trees, the sun, and the quiet sound of the wind. It was great, and is something I want to incorporate into my daily routine.

LOOKUPP.S. This is part of our new backyard pre-landscaping!)

Here are 5 ways to make time for you throughout the day, and take a technology break. This is one of my summer goals! Are you with me?

Technology Break

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by smartwater through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about smartwater, all opinions are my own.

You can share what you see by tagging #lookupsweepstakes and tagging @smartwater on Instagram!

What do you do daily to make time for a technology break?

5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

Since we closed on our house we’ve been busy with cleaning and packing our old place, and moving/shopping/organizing/unpacking our new place. We are finally starting to really settle in and enjoy our space. Let me tell you, I’ll never take a driveway and a nice spacious yard for granted, ever. The past few weeks, going on a month now, have been a whirlwind. I thought I’d share how I’ve been keeping myself healthy despite my lack of working out.

5 Tips to Jumpstart Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

Jumpstart Your Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

Making time to MOVE: Recently on my Instagram account and on my Facebook page, I’ve shared my love for my Fitbit. We bought them about a month or so ago and I can’t begin to say enough great things about it (P.S. this is not sponsored by Fitbit).

My Fitbit motivates me to take that extra 3-minutes during my bathroom break and walk around a bit, it motivates me to take the stairs, and it pushes me to reach my goal of steps each day; thus, walking and moving way more on a daily basis. I also use the silent alarms to wake me up in the morning (the days of arguing over my incessant snoozing are over).

Snacking: I never leave the house without a snack on me. It’s seriously not worth it! For one, I get “hangry,” which is defined as anger caused by hunger. Get it? That word is fitting. But moreso because if I go into a meal starving I’m likely to want everything and anything, which could potentially ruin my goals. 

Getting a good night sleep: Lacking sleep is not healthy for us; we run way better with a good night sleep. So, winding down and going to bed early, despite the million things I want to finish, was a must.

Keeping up with my food shopping were essentials during a busy month: I also made sure to keep the fridge stocked with healthy foods as the month has been filled with quick dinners such as breakfast for dinner, BBQ, and crock-pot meals.

Staying hydrated: Always have a reusable water bottle on hand!