Bad habits, as we all know, are hard things to break, and good ones, frustratingly, are hard to make.
It will come as no surprise then that healthy habits in particularly so regularly elude us. In a bid to change this, we've looked at the golden rules that every healthy person swears by.
Print out and laminate.
It goes without saying that if you plan your meals for the week, you'll eat better. Then you won't be tempted to reach for that ready meal or just several rounds of toast and jam, when you've had a hard day in the office.
But is there any real proof that being organised really will make you be healthier? Well, no but anecdotally, we spoke to 10 of the healthiest women we know and discovered that the really key to staying healthy and fit in terms of food, is preparation. The good news is that it doesn't have to be all chia seeds or having to buy a Nutribullet (as much as we love them) to stay in shape.
Here is a brilliant meal plan we found on Hungry Healthy Happy blog, which provides an ace clean food menu which is easy to stick to.
Keep a food diary
We don't need to tell you that you need to drink a lot of water to stay in shape. So we'll avoid telling you that one. There is, however, one thing many a healthy person swears by and that is keeping a food diary. In a study of 1,700 people by the Kaiser Center for Health Research in Portland in 2008 dieters who kept a food diary for six months lost twice as much weight as those who kept no food record. Essentially, you're accountable for every bit of food that passes your mouth. If that doesn't sound particularly fun, why not download the MyFitnessPal app which helps you chart what you've eaten, or try taking pictures of every bit of food you eat.
Everything in moderation
Another thing that's vital for keeping on track with a healthy programme is ensuring you don't beat yourself up about the fact that you've had dessert after a meal, you've decided to have a glass of wine or you just really want to eat a packet of crisps. OK, so you probably don't want to indulge every day like that but everything in moderation will mean you get the health benefits and enjoy the treats when you want to.
TinyBuddha.com has some brilliant ways for helping you to understand how strict you really need to be with yourself.
Limit your alcohol consumption
This is a clear no-brainer. We're not suggesting you don't drink at all but there are many studies that show why you should limit your consumption so that you don't have various health problems. The NHS website offers great advice on how you can do this but also what the real health benefits are, such as your skin looking healthier, your feeling better in the mornings and feeling fitter. There are also massive long-term affects such as helping your heart, ensuring you sleep better but also improving your immune system.
It's not about weight loss
Focus on your overall wellbeing rather than weight loss - this is about feeling healthy. While it's true that studies suggest weight loss and self-esteem go hand in hand, realise that if you don't get rid of those extra pounds, you're not a failure and you should recognise how your body feels rather than looks. The other important thing that every healthy person understands is that this is a lifestyle, not a sudden quick-fix diet plan which means you can't go back to gorging on multipacks of penguins.
Don't give yourself unrealistic goals
When you start changing your lifestyle to be one a bit healthier you immediately feel like beating yourself up if you don't lose five stone in a day. But don't start fretting about this, it's important that you understand you're only human. PsychCentral.com suggests that to meet your healthy goals, it's best to set realistic ones in the first place as therefore you're more likely to achieve them. Also, huge goals can feel massively discouraging if you fall short.
Invest in the proper kit, but don't go overboard
By that we mean, make sure you get a decent pair of trainers if you're going running. Perhaps you might want to start using something like My Fitness Pal to track your calories or the Nike Running app for when you're going for a run. Thing is, you don't want to have so many contraptions that's cost you your month's rent or end up feeling like a robot when you're out for a simple walk. Essentially, get what you need and enjoy it.
Don't make excuses
From not eating right because the shop is too far away, to not exercising because you don't have time. Whatever it is, we're all guilty of making excuses. While we're not saying that you can't have a day off, every healthy person understands that if they just get out of bed a little earlier, and plan their meals in advance they'll be in a much better position to stay on the right track health-wise. WebMD offers some great advice on how to stop making excuses
And if you're really strapped for time, some studies have shown that even if you just do a short burst of high intensity exercise that you can still see results. This is especially great for those who are pushed for time. Even if you're just getting up in the morning and doing a workout in front of the TV for 15 minutes every morning at least you're getting your heart rate up.
Dr Michael Mosley, author of the ridiculously popular book Fast Diet better known as the 5:2, is advocating this new method of exercising. According to Mosley "when you exercise intensively you release things called catecholamines – adrenalin - that is a fat-burning hormone. Levels of catecholamines can go up 10-fold even after a 20 second burst."
Take a look at Mosley's suggested workout here
We can't stress (joke) how important this actually is. If you don't ever take time out from rushing around, where that's reading a book, painting your nails or taking a relaxing bath, chances are you're never really going to feel like you're chilled out. Not only that, never relaxing and eliminating stress from your life can be bad for your heart, such as high blood pressure, and your mental wellbeing.
Sleep. A lot.
While there has been a lot of debate over whether actually getting a little bit extra shut-eye does encourage weight loss, it’s clear there is a correlation. If you sleep over nine hours per night, the genetic factors that lead to weight gain can be overridden.
In one study which looked at identical twins and the difference in BMI after sleeping different hours from each other, Dr Nathaniel Watson, from the University of Washington, who led the US study said “The results suggest that shorter sleep provides a more permissive environment for the expression of obesity related genes. Or it may be that extended sleep is protective by suppressing expression of obesity genes.”
So there you have it. Sleep more, lose more weight.