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

9 Easy Ways To Celebrate YOU!

We live in a fast paced world where we are all constantly on-the-go trying to work and do as much as possible and be the best we can. For woman especially, it can be challenging to carve out time to celebrate yourself because you spend some much time looking after and caring for just about everyone and everything else but you. It is important to slow down and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished and the amazing person you are today. After all, we’ve all heard the advice to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others, right?

Celebrating yourself increases confidence and ultimately helps those around you too. A more confident you will achieve more and help you be a better worker, partner, parent, and friend. But also, celebrating you more often will bring more positivity in your life, and happiness–we all can get behind that, right?

Coffee in the AMPhoto by Alejandro Photography 

So let’s dive into 9 Easy Ways to Celebrate You, NOW!

Practice gratitude with yourself: Write down three things that you do well! And try to do it every single day for a week. It can be the same thing every single day, or three new ones each day. Using gratitude can help shift your mindset into feeling positively about yourself, instead of focusing on the negative.

Clean up your space: Using the Marie Kondo (or KonMari) approach to organize and declutter can be an amazing and transformative experience, especially if you’re hanging on to belongings that don’t bring you joy. Start in your closet! Get rid of the clothing that doesn’t fit or flatter you anymore, and keep only the clothing that makes you feel amazing (see below)! Then move on to harder and more time consuming decluttering projects.

Wear clothes that fit you: You will feel much happier and more confident if you wear clothes that fit you. This may seem like a small thing, but it will instantly make you feel amazing when your clothes truly fit. Need to go shopping for a few new pieces that truly fit? Do it now!

Write down your dreams, both big and small: It can be as small as wanting to start the day off with a cup of lemon water or as big as solving world hunger! Writing this list and constantly checking back with it can be a great roadmap to where you’ve been and where you want to be. Celebrate your victories both big and small along the way. And be gentle with yourself for the dreams that take longer than you expected to achieve, or the dreams that completely change.

Buy yourself some flowers, a plant, or other self-love gift: Buy yourself something, whether big or small, because YOU deserve it! Flowers instantly bring positivity but also if you’ve been eyeing a new gadget or beauty product, just go for it. If the answer to the question, “will this item bring joy in my life?” is yes, go for it!

When somebody compliments you, hear it and say thank you: Full stop. Take the compliment.

Surround yourself with positive people: Understandably this is no small task. Ridding negative people in your life is hard! But keeping those relationships around is harder, especially if they are people who bust your confidence and make it hard for you to celebrate yourself. You deserve to be surrounded by people who cheer you on and make you smile, inside and out.

Give yourself downtime by saying no a little bit more: Everybody deserves a break. You too. Having some downtime, whether it’s 30 minutes or a full week break can help you reflect on all the wonderful you do everyday and give yourself time to recharge. It can be so hard to say no to an obligation, but go ahead and use no a little bit more for other people so you can say yes a little bit more for yourself.

Take yourself out to coffee or dinner: So many people are afraid to take themselves out but it can be such a confidence booster! All you need is you! Feel nervous to try it for the first time? Take a book to keep you company. Doing this repeatedly can truly help you celebrate yourself as you get used to the idea that you are all the company you need (sometimes)!

For some, the thought of celebrating themselves can bring anxiety or be totally uncomfortable. Start small. Taking pride in yourself can be a new thing for many people, but like anything the more you practice it, the better you get. Tell yourself as many times as you need to hear: you deserve it.


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9 Easy Ways to Celebrate YOU

Healthy Travel Tips

It’s about that time, folks! In under two weeks I’ll be heading to the beaches of Jamaica for a much needed vacation! I can’t wait to lounge on the beach with a good book, and shut off from the internet for a few days. I also really can’t wait for some amazing cuisine, of course. There’s so much to celebrate and some much needed relaxation to take place. I can’t wait to share with you all about our trip, but it couldn’t be an upcoming event without an infographic for Healthy Food Friday with American Express to start it off!

You see… traveling can be exhausting on your body and on your mind! It can also mean tons of unhealthy food, drinking, and going off your normal day-to-day healthy lifestyle plan. I’m here to help. These are eleven of my tips to travel healthy!

Healthy Travel Tips from Lexi's Clean Kitchen

1. Load Up on Your Vitamins

Airports, public places, new territories can drag your immune system down. Get ahead of the game and take vitamin c days leading up to your trip, and pack some for the duration of your trip as well- and don’t forget the daily vitamins you normally take!

2. Choose Water

Don’t be tempted by the fruit juices and sodas- stick to water. Make sure to stay hydrated and always have a bottle with you at the beach.

3. Bring Your Own Airport Food & Hotel Room Snacks

Packing your own small meal for the airport will assure you stay on track in the airport and when on the plane. Don’t let yourself get hungry to the point of resorting to the vending machine! Stock your hotel room with snacks and water bottles. Most hotel rooms now have refrigerators, so you can really bring some good-quality eats!

One idea is to bring a small bottle of olive oil and vinegar with you for your own salad dressing option! 

4. Do Your Research

Look into the food in the hotel or surrounding area before hand. Plan places you want to go to get healthy meals and snacks so you don’t stop into the first random place you see.

5. Eat Breakfast Every Day 

Fuel your body for the day. Load up on protein and good quality fats to fill you up and give you energy.

6. Get a Good Night Sleep

Traveling is exhausting on you and your body. Make sure to get adequate sleep each night of your trip and hey, you’re on vacation- sleep in a little!

7. Make Time To Exercise 

Get MOVING! Check out your hotel’s gym or make yourself a fun hotel workout! If you’re in a sunny place, get outside and get moving. Check out sights in the area you are in for a nice hike, bike ride, or outdoor adventure.

8. Shut Off From The Internet

Leave your computer and cellphone at home or in the hotel room and enjoy the social media break!

9. Avoid Tons of Excess Salt And Sugars

The longer you are away, the more affected you’ll be by the change in food.  Often vacation meals are more indulgent and can be cooked differently than your day-to-day eats at home. Avoiding excess salt and sugars are ways I stay on track and keep my energy and mood up while on vacation!

10. Order Smart While Ordering Out

Look into restaurants with healthy options before departing for your trip. Make conscious choices while ordering your appetizers and main dishes. Include protein and tons of veggies in your meal, and ask the restaurant what accommodations they can make.

11. Live A Little

After all, you ARE on vacation! Whether you indulge by treating yourself to a massage, ordering dessert at dinner, or sipping on some cocktails; enjoy and don’t beat yourself up. Remember: everything in moderation, and have FUN!

What is your best healthy travel advice? What is your vacation guilty pleasure?

I was selected by American Express to contribute to their Tumblr community. As such I was paid for my services, but all opinions in general and about American express are my own.

 

Healthy Food Friday: Dark Chocolate

Friends, I am so excited to introduce you to a new Friday series brought to you by yours truly for American Express’ Tumblr! Healthy Food Friday’s will feature a different food each week, provide you with some health benefits, and I’ll even mention a few recipes you can use them in. 

This month, since we’re still feeling the Valentine’s Day love (at least I am!), let’s start the series off with dark chocolate and some of its health benefits.

Healthy Food Friday: Dark Chocolate

Healthy Food Friday: Dark ChocolateI was selected by American Express to contribute to their Tumblr community. As such I was paid for my services, but all opinions in general and about American express are my own.

UsetheminChocolateRaspberryGanacheCupcakes5img_2128Paleo Flourless Chocolate Cake

10 Ways to Stay Healthy, Happy, and Stress-free this Holiday Season

Family gatherings, office parties, travel and weekend get-togethers with friends and family are part of the fun of the holidays, but the pressure of gifts, time spent traveling and family tensions can also cause extra stress this time of year. Finding different way to de-stress and stay healthy this time of year can help you get through the hustle and bustle (and even enjoy it!)

Here are ten ways to stay healthy, happy, and stress-free as we bid goodbye to 2013.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy, Happy, & Stress-free

1. They may not mesh with your holiday décor, but leave vitamins out on the counter over the holidays so you’ll be sure to take them. Make a full night’s sleep and steady hydration a priority as well.

2. Know your holiday stress points & plan ahead: make lists, start your holiday shopping early and decide on your party menu’s in advance. Doing things at the last minute increases anxiety.

3. Schedule time to relax: make time to get a massage or even just to lounge around the house.

4. Snack wisely: If you’re heading to a party in the evening, make a snack plan. Hold off during the day, or decide not to indulge during the event.

5. Prevent overeating: don’t go hungry to a party! Have something to eat before you head out the door. You’ll be less likely to pig out at the buffet table when you get to the party.

6. Keep it movin’! Whether you are in a hotel, staying with friends or family, or spending the holidays at home; make being active a habit. Take advantage of hotel gyms and pools, suggest a post-lunch or halftime walk (particularly good when visiting friends and family: “show me your neighborhood!”), or stick to your weekly fitness classes at home.

7. Balance your holiday plate: At this time of year, simple carbs and high calorie foods rule the roost. Rebel! Come down heavy on the veggie and fruit side of things so you can earn a little taste of something from the desert platter. Also – go easy on the sauce (you never need as much as you think) and watch your portion size!

8. Bringing a holiday dessert to the party? Modify your recipes and cook up a healthier option with sugar alternatives like honey or coconut sugar – or opt for a non-food gift.

9. If you’re hitting the road, pack smart. Bring healthy snacks with you – the menu at the gas station is pretty heavy on salt and sugar – and don’t forget your running sneakers.

10. Indulge, but in moderation! Have your piece of cake…just don’t have five. Go in knowing you plan on indulging in one extra appetizer or a single helping of your favorite dessert and stick to it.

One final point on the dietary front: the confidence boost you’ll get from making a plan and sticking to it will far outweigh the momentary rush you get from downing that extra brownie and then dealing with the guilt afterwards. And you’ll establish a pattern that will set you up for a healthy year to come!

 I was selected by American Express as to help educate consumers about how to use Membership Rewards points. As such I was paid for my services, but all gift choices selected and opinions about the gifts and American Express are my own. http://t.cmp.ly/68ee5b1be62ebaeb5a

How do you stay healthy and stress-free during the holidays and going into the new year?