What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
There are so many health tips and diet plans out there, the information overload alone makes a girl want to sit on the couch with a cookie. Below are 5 of the easiest ideas that have the largest healthy impact on my life -- no rigid guidelines or eliminating food groups.
I call them health "ideas" instead of rules because really they're just things to think about. I find when you want to make longstanding changes, the gentler and simpler the better. I like juice cleanses and squat challenges like I like getting my wisdom teeth removed. (Paired with copious amounts of codeine.)
Eat more whole foods.
If you can take a look at what you're eating, understand exactly how it got on your plate, and pronounce all of the ingredients, then you're probably doing alright. The less ingredients the better. The fewer steps between the harvesting of your food and its arrival on your plate, the less processing it has received, and the more nutrients it still maintains.
Pro tip: If it came from a box, it's probably pretty processed.
Eat more colors.
Beige is not the optimal color for food. If the foods you eat on a daily basis span the whole ROYGBIV, you're probably not doing too bad. I'm talking natural, organic coloring here, not a bag of gummy bears.
Pro tip: Shop for produce by what's aesthetically pleasing. Pretty pretty beets.
Add, don't eliminate.
If sex with my exes has taught me anything, it's this: What's suddenly forbidden is also suddenly thrice as appealing. (Also yes, they probably did learn that oral sex trick from that girl they met at Union Pool...)
So, if you want to eat healthier, instead of focusing on what you can't eat, think of all the delicious good-for-you things you want to add to your diet. “Yay, let's eat more quinoa” is much more uplifting than “Wah, no more unlimited bread baskets.”
Make a nice list of healthy things you want to munch, and then fill your grocery cart with those. You will be too full of blueberries and joy to miss whatever food you're avoiding.
Pro tip: Eat before you're too hungry. I don't mean eat when you're still full, I mean eat before you're ravenous so you still have enough sense to make good choices.
When you're well-slept, your entire universe changes. You will be less irritable. You will be less stressed. You will look and feel younger. You will be less likely to eat your feelings because your body isn't struggling to find an energy source, and also because your feelings are telling you to smile, not to conquer a jar of Nutella. I go to bed absurdly early now because the benefit it has on my life is not worth sacrificing for anything. I repeat: anything.
Pro tip: If you're trying to set an earlier bedtime for yourself, but can't seem to fall asleep, try a natural sleep aid like melatonin or kava. They're non-addictive, and once your body gets used to your new sleep sched, you won't need them.
My mom is constantly sending me links to various studies all concluding the same thing: sitting for extended periods of time will kill you. Ironically, I always read these articles while sitting at my desk, and when I'm done, I get a little panicky and do a zillion jumping jacks.
Anyway, you don't have to be a total gym rat to undo the damages of sitting. Any type of movement works. Cleaning counts, as does dancing, and dancing while you're cleaning. Sex counts. Basically anything that isn't sedentary. Have a desk job like most of us? Try and get up every 20 minutes or so even if it's just to stretch.
Pro tip: Drink gobs of water so you have to pee several times an hour. Not only will your skin blossom with dewey hydration, but your bladder will act as an automatic internal timer. Okay, don't drink too too much water. A gallon a day should do it.
Zoe is peeing every twenty minutes and Tweeting about her 10 (okay, 9) pm bedtime at @sexytofublog.