Skinny people…they are everywhere. On TV, billboards, and at the beach. They make it look easy to look the way they do. You see her at Starbucks while you are ordering your tall black decaf coffee, (because you know, every calorie counts). Meanwhile she is ordering a Venti caramel frapp, loaded with whipped cream and sugary goodness. It just doesn’t seem fair. Here you are counting calories and hating life and there she is drinking your favorite drink and wearing skinny jeans. You tell yourself that you have kids, you can’t help the way you look. Then you notice she is pushing a stroller with two small babies. How does she make it look so easy? You make a mental note that this is your new worst enemy,
In all honestly though, we are all busy, we all have kids to chase and jobs and crazy hectic lives. And as much as we might hate to admit it, there is nothing wrong with being a skinny chick, she works for it. Don’t think of them as skinny people, think of them as healthy people. Not all skinny people are healthy of course, but many are. And while it is true that some skinny people spend hours at the gym, the real secret to getting thin isn’t found in the gym, but in the kitchen.
Food is fuel. It is what keeps us running when we want to stop. It is what keeps germs and other nastiness away by keeping our immune system strong. Food can work for us or against us which is why it is so important that we watch everything we put into our bodies.
But you already know that, that’s just common sense. We all know what we eat affects our looks and our health. The trick isn’t learning why you need to eat healthy, the trick is learning how to eat healthy.
Most healthy recipes are a bear. It is a bear to find the ingredients, it is a bear to prepare everything, (usually from scratch as processed foods are a no no), and it is a bear to clean up after you are done.
No matter how badly we want to be healthy, most of us just don’t have time for all of these ‘bears’, not when there is work to be done and kids to chase and a house to hold together.
The issue isn’t that we don’t want to be healthy. The issue is that many of us don’t have the time to be healthy. Sure, there are billions of books and programs that all swear that having a healthy lifestyle won’t put a dent in your already busy schedule, but they are able to think that way, being healthy is their job…they literally get paid to be healthy. Unlike you they aren’t trying to change their lifestyle in addition to an already exhausting workweek.
You might not have all of the answers, but what you do have is a desire to be healthy and feel good about yourself. A desire to know that you are doing the best that you can to give your family the gift of health. And when you combine that desire with a few simple tricks, you will be able to stay healthy and feel better about yourself without adding more stress to your already busy day.
1. The Fruit and Veggie Trick
One of the biggest budget breakers in eating healthy is buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Sure, it isn’t much of an issue when you have one or two servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but when you are eating healthy, and aiming to eat fruits and veggies at every meal, that is another story.
To make matters worse, you can no longer have the convenience of buying things in cans (after all, there are a lot of hidden things in there that might are good for your budget but terrible for your health). If you are a budget person, like me, you know that the produce section is where things can get a bit hairy and now you are looking at an increased fruit budget and an increased vegetable budget.
Luckily there is a trick to this, and the trick is so stupid simple that I am ashamed to say it took me years to find it, and even then it wasn’t me, it was a food blogger that I follow.
Instead of buying fruits and veggies in the produce aisle, get it from the frozen foods section. There are two big benefits here….
Obviously the cost is the biggest benefit. Shopping in the freezer section is generally no more expensive than the produce section, and in many cases it is actually cheaper. Best of all, the work is done for you. I recently had a recipe that called for a bunch of peaches. Not only was it more expensive for me to buy the peaches in produce, but the frozen peaches were already cut for me – that my friends is a major score for an anti-cook like me.
The second biggest benefit is that frozen fruits and veggies last longer than fresh ones. Yes, some can argue about the taste, but I personally don’t notice it. And even though there are times when I love escaping to the grocery store, I generally hate shopping for groceries and I would rather order pizza every night than make that dreaded half hour trip, (which is really more of an hour trip after I haul everything in and find a home for it in the kitchen). At the risk of losing my mother of the year award I will tell you that I have done this pizza trick many times, my budget has suffered and my waistline has suffered, but for some reason it still seems better than restocking my grocery supply. Thankfully, when I buy most of my fruits and veggies from the freezer aisle, I don’t have to worry about them going bad as quickly, I get to buy enough for two weeks and then stay as far away from the store as humanly possible.
Tip: The night before you eat your frozen fruits and veggies, measure what you need and move them to the fridge.
2. Get Your Bulk Non-perishables Online
Most people don’t realize it, but a large portion of the foods you buy can be delivered right to your door – without busting your budget. Buying bulk food online is convenient and easy. Just pick the foods that you need and in a few days you will have a pretty box sitting on your doorstep.
Sure, you can’t do this with your refrigerated items, but you can do this with almost everything else. Dried beans, pastas, condiments, rice, nuts, dried fruits, bottled sauces, spices, and more can all be bought online. Sure, these might not be the ‘star’ of your meals, but they are all things that your kitchen can’t do without.
When you buy in bulk, you are paying more money up front, which can be a bit of a shock at first, but you are getting more than you would get if you were buying the regular portions of these items.
Basically, you are paying more now but in return you get more of your product, meaning you will have a good while before you need to restock. In the long run, this can save a lot on your budget. What’s even better is that most bulk items aren’t affected by temperature, so you don’t have to worry about them spoiling during shipping.
There are many online stores that will let you buy in bulk, but since you are ordering online, there are always risks involved.
You want to be sure that what you are buying will not be expired. You also want to be sure that it will arrive on time and is not likely to be damaged during shipping. But the biggest thing that you want to verify is the return policy, you don’t want to receive a package only to find out that it would be easier to keep an expired item than it would to go through the hassle of returning it.
This isn’t meant to scare you off of buying in bulk, it can be a great thing. This is just meant to show you the reasons why you should be careful who you choose as your bulk supplier. There are many stores online that sell in bulk and you want to get the best value for your money and the customer service that you deserve.
The easiest way to do this is to look for recommendations from others. If you have friends who eat healthy, ask them if they buy in bulk and where the shop. If you are part of an online community, tap them for suggestions. Learning from someone who has already done it is a great way to save yourself some trial and error. And if all else fails, Amazon also ships some items in bulk, and even though they have their hiccups they are a trusted site that allows people to review the items that they buy.
If you choose not to buy your bulk items online, you may be able to find what you need locally.
Your local health food store might have everything that you need. Some stores openly offer the option of buying in bulk while others don’t advertise that this is an option. You might need to look at local websites, and maybe even call the stores to make sure they have the bulk items you are looking for. Even when you find a local bulk supplier, you may discover that they don’t carry your favorite brands. This is one reason some people choose to buy certain bulk items locally and get others online.
When done right, buying in bulk can be a great asset to your new, healthy lifestyle. There is a little planning involved, but it can be well worth it in the long run.
3. Grab Recipes Online
One of the hardest things about starting a healthy lifestyle is figuring out what to eat. It sounds simple, but it can be a huge struggle. It is a hassle on your time, a hassle on your budget, and most importantly a hassle on your sanity.
For most of us, we have a few staple menus that we could make in our sleep. This might not offer a lot of variety, but it serves the basic purpose of keeping the family alive and semi-healthy. But while these menus are old friends, they might not be the best option when trying to move into a healthier eating lifestyle.
If you are looking for healthier meals for your family, or just new meals to add to your dinner rotation, grabbing recipes online is a great way to go.
They Are Free
Have you ever gotten recipe books only to get them home and discover that you didn’t really like them? No matter how hard you try, sometimes recipes just don’t look as good as they do in the picture. The result is money wasted on something that is now gathering dust on your shelf.
When you are looking online for recipes, you literally have thousands of recipes to choose from. Whether you are looking for recipes based around certain ingredients or you are looking for something that falls into a certain style of eating (like Paleo or gluten free), there are recipes to meet all of your needs.
Many Recipes Are Reviewed By People Just Like You
What’s even better is that many of these sites have reviews from others who have tried the recipes. This is a great way to see what others have to say about the meal preparation, what other foods compliment that meal, and how good the meal tastes.
Many times these are busy parents just like you and they are looking for the same thing that you are. Food that is fast, healthy, and delicious. When they say that their family likes a recipe, chances are your family will like it too.
4. Find Your Online Teachers
The biggest factor in your healthy eating success is learning from people that you can connect with. It doesn’t matter if these are people who live down the street from you or people the live across the world from you. All that matters is that they share your healthy eating interests and they have something positive to bring to your journey.
You might find one teacher, or many teachers, it all depends on what resonates with you. Remember, your journey is unique to you, and you need to follow the path that works for you. It doesn’t matter if someone is the most popular person or the person who is the most talked about on social media. If you don’t feel like you connect with them, you may need to keep looking.
A great place to start is looking through Amazon books.
Looking through Amazon books will not just give you great ideas on recipes, it will also give you a chance to read what others are saying about the author. Sometimes the book looks beautiful, but a quick look at the reviews tells you that you will be searching for hard to find ingredients or that the author is giving questionable advice.
Once you find an author you like, take their name and book title to the almighty Google. Chances are they have a blog where you can learn more about them and make a better connection with them. And usually you will be able to get a free gift and join their mailing list, just as a thank you for stopping by. This is an easy way to see if you can relate to them before you spend money on a book. One of the best things about a blog though is the ability to be part of a community. Because blogs are usually linked to podcasts and social media accounts, you have the chance to not only connect with the blog owner, but also learn from and connect with others in that same community.
Social Media Is a Great Place for Free Recipes
Have you ever been on Facebook and seen recipes that friends put on their timeline so they don’t forget to make them later? You might not have thought much about it, but what if those recipes were all geared towards the type of healthy lifestyle that you are trying to achieve?
When you become part of an online group that is dedicated to a certain lifestyle, you get a lot of benefits. And one of the biggest benefits is the recipes. Many times the owner of the group will share their own recipes as a way of keeping everyone connected and excited about what they are doing, and this is a great way for you to try recipes and get a feel for the types of food that you like best.
You also get comments, lots and lots of comments, from people who are on the same path that you are. Some of them might want be brand new to eating healthy, others might be old pros at it. This gives you a good mix of people to connect with, and many of them will share their tips, frustrations, and details about their lifestyle openly.
While people share recipes and get chatty on Facebook, when it comes to finding recipes quickly, Instagram is the place to be. This will give you even more connections to other healthy eaters. Once you find a healthy eating community you want to learn more about, follow the person leading that community on Instagram. If they are smart they are posting their recipe pictures on there, giving you an idea of whether or not it might appeal to your taste buds. But there is something even better happening here, whenever someone comments on an Instagram post, you can then go to their account to see what they are up to. Many times, you will be able to find pictures of recipes they have tried, recommendations on books they are reading, and even other healthy eating mentors that they might be following.
Remember, Find Your Authors, Get Hooked in on Social Media, and Connect With Your Mentors
So let’s put this together. You go to Amazon, and look at the previews of the books that interest you. But instead of buying the book, you then take the titles of your favorite books and the authors names and put them into Google.
From there you find the authors blog (don’t look for their social media accounts just yet, or you might miss out on a lot of free blog goodies). Once you are on the blog, sign up for their free email. This usually gives you a free gift but this also helps the blog owner to contact you when they release new blog posts, podcasts, products, etc.
Now look at the social media, (usually this can be found on the blog site), and follow them there. While all social media is good, Facebook and Instagram seem to be the places where people are the most chatty and share the most recipes.
Then repeat the process to get hooked into even more healthy communities that interest you.
5. Remember Google is Your Friend
It’s okay, you can admit it, sometimes recipes look like a foreign language. You can’t pronounce the ingredients and some of the brand names are unrecognizable. What’s worse, asking someone at the store for help can sometimes make you feel silly, like maybe you are the only adult on the planet who doesn’t ‘get it’.
These are the times when it helps to have a friend like Google. Sometimes just looking at pictures of the ingredients – or even what the package looks like – is enough to help you figure out where you should be looking for things in the grocery store. Sometimes a quick Google search will also help you figure out if you should be looking in your local grocery store or if you would have a better shot at finding the item at your health food store.
Google Doesn’t Just Help When You Are At the Store
Google might be your hero when you are in the store, but the awesomeness doesn’t end there. Google can also be your biggest help when you are ready to make your food.
So let’s say that your recipe calls for you to braise beef, finely chop vegetables and then saute those vegetables. This can all be very intimidating for someone who has not done it before. After you have already spent so much time hunting for recipe ingredients, you are likely now wondering if you can pull your recipe together at all. Luckily a quick Google search can help you figure that out. Just type in a few words to have videos, articles, and pictures right at your fingertips.
Google can also help you figure out what to do with your food after you have made it. For example, maybe you are so certain that you are going to love this recipe that you want to make a huge batch so that you can have some for later. A quick search can help you to figure out how to change the ingredient portions to match how much you want to fix, the best way to freeze the extra portion, and the best way to bring that frozen meal back to life.
And remember, there is no shame in jumping on a forum or asking someone for help. It might seem intimidating at first because you feel like you are asking questions that everyone else already knows the answer to. But remember, you are just starting your new way of eating, and at some point everyone in those forums or on that Facebook page started right where you are. And on the very slim chance they do make you feel silly for your questions, know that there are plenty of other supportive online communities out there that would be happy to have you.
6. Planning Your Week
Have you ever come home from work stressed, exhausted, and hungry only to decide that tonight might be a great night to order in? Do you find yourself doing this two or three times a week simply because your life is so busy? These questions aren’t meant to shame, we have all been there. Life doesn’t stop just because your day has been crazy busy. The kids still need to eat, the laundry still needs to get done and you still have a night of balancing your checkbook ahead of you. Let’s be honest, who would have time to even think about cooking with a schedule like that?
This is where the importance of planning comes in. When you are able to plan your meals ahead of time you won’t need to hit that drive thru window because you will already have your dinner ready, all you need to do is heat it. Even better, because everything is already set in place you can focus on other things while your food is cooking.
Taking one or two hours a week to plan your meals might seem like a hassle, and honesty in the beginning it might be a bit of a hassle. But this can save you hours throughout the week. Doing something once a week is a lot easier than doing it multiple times a week. One good trip to the grocery store and one afternoon in the kitchen is all you need to make an entire week of meals for your family.
But planning your meals is just the beginning, you can also plan your trip to the grocery store. What was once a headache can be a breeze when you have a categorized list in front of you. Make an Excel spreadsheet and list your grocery categories in bold, (frozen, produce, meats, etc.).Then put each item under the appropriate category and print it out. Not only do you have a focused list that will easily keep you on track, but your excel sheet can be a template for your future grocery lists.
7. Chat Yourself Up
There is nothing more important in your journey than the way you talk to yourself. Yes, eating healthy, and finding your community are important but they won’t take you anywhere if you are not able to take time every day to be kind to yourself.
No one is responsible for your success or failure except for you and that can be a lot of pressure. Learning to fit healthy eating into your already busy life is a lot of pressure, All of this pressure can easily make things a struggle for you.
You need someone in your corner, someone who will talk you up and motivate you when you feel like quitting. Most importantly you need someone who knows exactly what you are feeling all the time.
When it comes to changing your life, you are your own best friend. There is no one else on earth who cares for about your success as much as you do.
Don’t be Afraid to Talk To Yourself
If you think about it, we are all chatterboxes. From the time we get up to the time we go to bed we are chatting with one person or another. Whether it is on Facebook or with the cashier at the grocery store we are constantly talking.
The irony is that we spend so much time communicating with everyone else that we forget to communicate with ourselves. Or worse, we only communicate with ourselves when we are angry with ourselves.
Think about it, when was the last time you felt angry with yourself because you did something silly? Likely it was likely something you would tell your friend not to worry about if they had done it. For some sad reason we are able to get angry with ourselves for the same things that we would tell others not to worry about.
The way you talk to yourself is going to affect how you see yourself. You might not realize it but over time this can really do damage to your self esteem. If you start your journey to healthy living with a negative self image, it will be so much easier for you to fail.
You will stumble on this journey and you will have times when you feel like you are being tempted or challenged. These things are only natural when you set out to change your lifestyle. If you aren’t talking to yourself with kindness it will be easy for you to fail when these challenges hit.
Talking kindly to yourself is just one aspect of loving yourself. You also want to learn how to motivate yourself. Giving yourself something to be excited about will help you greatly as you move through this journey. Yes, there will be a time in the not too distant future when your greatest reward will be the way you feel about yourself, but while you are just starting to form your healthy eating habits rewarding yourself is a great way to stay excited about the changes you are making,
Your rewards don’t have to be anything big, just something that is a treat for you. Maybe you have been eyeing a certain book or wanting to get a certain hairstyle. Maybe your reward can be something as simple as going to a local shop that you have wanted to check out but have just never had the time. Your rewards don’t have to be huge, they just have to be something that matters to you.
The biggest way you can show your love for yourself is to show yourself forgiveness. If you stumble, tell yourself that is okay and start over again the next day. If you mess up a recipe, laugh at yourself and try again the next day.
In the beginning, learning how to treat yourself well might be quite the challenge. It might even seem strange to put an emphasis on loving yourself every day. But over time it will get easier and you will feel better for it. You can be your own worst enemy, but you can also be your own best friend. And a best friend is a great thing to have when you are trying to change your life.
Eating healthy can be a journey or it can be an adventure. At first, these changes might seem overwhelming or even impossible. But if you stick with it, if you really make an effort to follow these simple steps, you will find yourself living a life that you only dreamed of before.
On their own, each of these steps can change the your relationship with food. You could take just one of them and easily start see results. But you will find the best success when you combine these steps.
You are about to do something amazing for yourself. And amazing action gets amazing results. The goal here isn’t a six pack waist, or the promise of having a bikini body by next summer. There are many things out there that can give you that, or at least promise to. The goal here is for you to be healthy – really healthy. For you to find a space between the house and work and the kids where you can focus on small changes that will have big affects on your relationship with food and your health overall.
You are changing your life, that is a big deal. You should be proud of yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed or having second thoughts, please don’t let that stop you. You deserve this and you can do this.
If you are feeling scared, I challenge you to do it scared. These small steps might seem intimidating right now, but that is because of what these little changes represent – the start of a new journey. Just remember, you aren’t alone, everyone feels nervous when they start making changes to their lives. Those people who are the leaders of your new healthy eating community were in your shoes once. They were nervous and intimidated and they found a way to break through that and now they are able to help others do the same. Yes, some of them might have been raised in a healthy eating environment, but I promise you that is the exception – not the rule.
Follow the steps, find your community, forgive yourself when you stumble, and watch your life change. If you’re looking for an amazing community, check out our Facebook Group.
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.
— Tony Robbins