The hard stuff is easy…it’s the easy stuff that so many people find hard
Promoting common-sense based healthy living, the Mother Nature’s Diet way, I travel around the country doing seminars and workshops, I give people one-to-one training and mentoring, and I meet a lot of doctors, trainers, nutritional therapists and other health professionals.
When I started all this five years ago, I would have thought it would be ‘the hard stuff’ that people would struggle with, that was my expectation. By ‘the hard stuff’ I mean overcoming years of low self-esteem, quitting smoking, overcoming the spiral of negative emotions that so often lead to poor health habits in the first place, or learning about nutrition and exercise, learning what to eat and what to avoid. I would have thought that was the hard stuff that most people did not understand, and I would have thought that would be the stuff folks find hard to deal with.
But in reality, when I talk to people who are making changes to their diet and lifestyle to lose weight, get fitter and improve their health, it’s not that stuff they are looking for help with. Far more often, the stuff they want help with is stuff that I think is ‘the easy stuff’. It’s things like – ‘what can I eat for breakfast?’ and ‘how can I find time to exercise?’ and ‘what am I supposed to eat for dinner?’
Seriously, this is the easy stuff!
Let me share with you some simple tips for the things people tell me they find difficult.
What to eat – breakfast
- We want to get away from cereals and toast. Make scrambled eggs. Once you get good at it, then it only takes three or four minutes, that’s no time at all. I met a lady the other day, a GP, who said she’s got hers down to under 90 seconds! Quicker than me!
- I like to add greens to my eggs, so I throw in a few handfuls of spinach while they are cooking, it all cooks down in there and adds valuable nutrients to my breakfast. Sometimes I add some mushrooms too, and then a fresh tomato on the side
- If you fancy a sausage or two, or some bacon with your eggs, that’s great. But organic sausages, high meat content and gluten free, that’s best
- If you want the bacon or the sausages, but don’t have time to grill them every day, then just grill a batch at the weekend or one evening when you do have time, and then keep them in the fridge – you can grab a couple out, chop them up and thrown them in your scrambled eggs to heat up while you are cooking, it only takes seconds
- Cooked brekky in under 5 minutes = no excuses
- Sometimes in summer I like a bowl of fresh fruits for breakfast, with a handful of mixed nuts added to make things a bit more substantial. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apple and later in the season, blackberries too. You might like to add pineapple, watermelon or grapefruit
If you own a blender, ‘bullet’ or similar, then knocking up a breakfast smoothie a couple of times per week can be a very quick solution – you can even take it with you and drink it in the car!
- Further ideas if you have time, are on this site
What to eat – lunch
- Anything you would normally put in a sandwich, put it on a salad instead
- So instead of getting two slices of bread, putting on some kind of spread, then putting the chicken, or tuna, or cheese, or ham, or egg mayo, instead of putting that in the sandwich, you just chop up some salad, throw it in a lunchbox, and put the same ‘filling’ on the salad instead
- It’s an easy swap! Normally you mash some hard boiled eggs and make egg mayonnaise, well great, just get the hard boiled eggs and chop them up and put them on the salad instead
- Normally, you open a tin of tuna and put that in your sandwich. Well, just open the tin of tuna and put that on the salad instead
- Sliced ham? Sliced chicken = chicken chunks in salad. Smoked salmon? Flaked mackerel?
- If it goes in a sandwich, it goes on a salad
- And if you say, “well, I don’t make my own lunch, I go to the shop and buy it.” Then I would suggest that most of the places where they sell filled sandwiches and filled baguettes, they also sell boxed salads
What to eat – dinner
- Anywhere you would normally use rice, pasta, spaghetti or heaps of white potatoes, put more vegetables in instead
- It’s easy, bit it might feel a bit weird at first! You’ll soon get used to it
- You can make spaghetti Bolognese, but instead of boiling a pan of spaghetti, boil or steam a head of broccoli and put the broccoli on the plate instead of spaghetti
- You can still make a curry, but instead of putting it on rice, try putting it on cauliflower
- Or you can Google how to make cauliflower rice
- You can still make a chilli con carne, but instead of putting it on rice, again put it on broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage
- Or you can Spiralize courgettes, or they call it courgetti spaghetti these days. You could Spiralize carrots, things like that
- These swaps are easy to make and you’ll soon learn how to substitute vegetables for all that pasta and rice
Personally, I like to balance my day – eggs and veggies for breakfast, fish and salad for lunch, meat or chicken and veggies for dinner. There are no rules, but most times I follow something like that as a rough plan, and I might have an apple and a grapefruit as daytime snacks if I feel the need.
Fitting in some exercise
Folks get all caught up on this. If you love to exercise like I do then I am sure you have no trouble making the time, but for people who do not yet have that habit in place, don’t let it be a big deal – the goal is movement, it does not need to be too hard.
- Park a little further from the office and walk
- Get off the bus or train a stop early
- If you have the space to do it (especially if you are working from home) you can pop in exercises between emails – a set of squats, sit ups or push-ups
- Get up a little earlier and go for a brisk walk first thing every morning before breakfast – once you start you will come to love it
- Join a gym, hire a trainer, get motivated
- Find a sport you enjoy, play, it’s fun, not punishment
- Check this free eBook for lots more simple ideas
- Develop a simple habit of popping out for a walk in your lunch break
- Consider getting a dog so you have to go out and walk every day
- Think about trying out one of these movement monitors like FitBit and try to walk your 10,000 steps every day
- If you like to watch TV in the evening, could you put down a yoga mat and do some exercise on the floor (push-ups, sit-ups, touch toes, leg stretches, crunches, etc.) while you are there?
I meet so many people who just don’t know how to get started with all this. The food we eat and our work-family-life patterns tend to be so habitual, I get it, habits are hard to break. But on the flip side of the same coin, you’ll find that once you make new habits, then they feel effortless and are easy to maintain. That’s what this is really all about – you just have to push through a little discomfort to create changes, and then establish new habits to replace old ones.
Change the cereal habit to a scrambled eggs habit.
Change the sandwich and crisps habit to a boxed salad habit.
Change the pasta habit to a fish and veggies habit.
Change the TV habit to a gym habit.
Your health and body will thank you for it.