Simplicity is underrated. For anyone who has tried it all - the fad diets and crazy exercise regimes – taking it back to basics can be all you need to make massive long-term, sustainable changes in your life. For real results, it isn’t about cutting things out, but rather replacing them with healthier alternatives. Here are ten healthy swaps to get you started!
1: Warm Lemon Water, Over Coffee
Proven benefits of drinking water first thing in the morning include the reduced likelihood of consuming empty calories throughout the day - leading to reductions in body weight1, as well as improved digestion, mental acuity, skin and hair health, and immune function. Hydration first thing in the morning is also a healthy kick-start to your day and one that coffee cannot compete with.
2: Outdoors, Over Indoors
The proven benefits of time spent outdoors include reduced stress levels, improved happiness and overall satisfaction in life. Getting outside may also increase focus, creativity, and memory! The evidence outlining the benefits of time spent outside - whether that be walking, running or even going to the park with your kids each day – is growing, and has been shown to have enormous positive impacts on our emotional wellbeing2). So why not give it a try?
3: Whole Fruit and Veggies, Over Juices
During the juicing process, the fibre contained in fruits and veggies (the good stuff that our bowels love!) is lost, and while the resulting juice retains many vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals. A lot of what our body needs is wasted in the scraps that are left behind. Fibre is critical for good health, so the next time you think about grabbing a juice – perhaps think about swapping it for a smoothie, to give your body the added benefits and reduce wastage.
4: Standing, Over Sitting
The relatively new phenomenon of standing while working at your desk can have huge benefits to your overall health, wellness, and energy levels. Studies show that people who stand at their desk rather than sit burn more calories, are more energetic, less likely to suffer from computer-related postural issues with the neck and back, and even have improved productivity3.
For those who’d prefer not to stand for long periods of time, never fear! Move your working station between standing and regular desks throughout the day, or get your hands on a nifty adjustable desk.
5: Face-To-Face Communication, Over Screen Interactions
This day and age, we are glued to our screens. Our eyes hop from phone to computer, to tablet, back to phone and then we shut them to fall asleep. Interacting with people face-to-face leads to better communication skills, increase understanding, is conducive to building stronger relationships, and can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment. So, the next time you go to schedule a phone meeting, use it as an excuse to go grab a coffee instead, and meet with that person IN person!
6: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Over All Other Oils
If you use oil, use extra virgin. The only oil to have scientifically proven health benefits dating back years! Extra virgin olive oil contains huge amounts of antioxidants; has proven benefits to heart health, joint health, and insulin sensitivity; is a monosaturated fat (good fat), and can increase satiety4…need we say more?
7: Reading, Over TV
Reading is one of the most mentally stimulating activities you can do, regardless of what you read – and your brain loves it! Reading reduces stress, increases knowledge, improves vocabulary, strengthens focus, and can lead to greater clarity in thinking and innovation. Your brain is one of, if not the most important organ we have, so why not make it the best we possibly can?
8: Wholesome Breakfast, Over A Bowl Of Cereal
What you put into your body first thing in the morning can determine your energy levels for the rest of the day. Take a bowl of sugary cereal, for example - giving you a spike in blood glucose levels shortly followed by a slump in energy and activity. Compare this to a bowl of low GI oats with nuts, protein powder, and berries - which gives you much more sustained release of energy throughout your morning. The wholesome option will leave you less likely to binge on high-calorie foods throughout the day, as well as providing your body with the nutrients it thrives on.
9: Weights, Over Cardio
For donkey’s years, the belief has been that cardio was the best activity to promote weight-loss - nowadays, science says something a little different. While cardio still has its place in programs for fat loss, resistance-training has been shown to boost metabolism for longer post-workout than cardio alone – meaning that you burn more calories overall. This is because resistance-training builds muscle which is extremely energy demanding – using more of the fuel you put into your body.5
10: Cold Showers, Over Hot
This is something that will take a little getting used to, but makes all the difference. Cold showers are certainly unpleasant when you first start having them– however, their benefits are extraordinary and you’ll find yourself enjoying them with time. Not only do they give us energy due to the physiological changes we experience in response to cold water, but they also maintain healthy hair and skin, stimulate ‘brown fat’ (good fat) which is known for keeping us warm and may lead to increased weight-loss6. Cold showers also improve muscle recovery, reduce stress, and may even subdue symptoms of depression.7
While not all of these changes work for everyone, slowly integrating a couple throughout each day may lead to greater changes in your overall health, wellbeing, and happiness! What have you got to lose by giving them a go?
About The Author
Stephanie Harris has fed her passion for fitness, food, and photography for the past 5 years in the health industry. She is a qualified personal trainer and a Health Sciences graduate – in her spare time you can find her working out, developing new recipes or writing for her blog, Feeding Energy!
- Daniels, M. and Popkin, B. (2010). The impact of water intake on energy intake and weight status: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, 68(9). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2929932/
- “Pasanen, T., Tyrvainen, L. and Korpela, K. (2014). The relationship between perceived health and physical activity indoors, outdoors in built environments, and outdoors in nature. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aphw.12031
- Pronk, N., Katz, A., Lowry, M. and Payfer, J. (2012). Reducing occupational sitting time and improving worker health: the take-a-stand project, 2011. Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research Practice and Policy, 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477898/
- Owen, R., Giacosa, A., Hull, W., Haubner, R., Wurtele, G. et al. (2000). Olive-oil consumption and health: the possible role of antioxidants. The Lancet Oncology, 1(2).https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470204500000152
- Strasser, B. and Schobersberger, W. (2011). Evidence for resistance training as a treatment therapy in obesity. Journal of Obesity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931407/
- Cypess, A., Lehman, S., Williams, G., Tal, I., Rodman, D., Goldfine, A. et al. (2009). Identification and importance of brown adipose tissue in adult humans. The New England Journal of Medicine https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0810780
- Shevchuk, N. (2008). Adapted cold shower as a treatment for depression. Medical Hypothesis, 70(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17993252