Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly is easier said than done. It's more convenient to grab fast food than cook vegetables, and it's tempting to put off exercise because you're too tired. However, not only will exercise and a balanced diet help you look better, they'll help you feel better. Moderation is key -- you can still eat what you like, while reducing portion sizes and making healthier choices most of the time.
Start walking, focusing on a goal of taking 10,000 steps a day. While this might seem like a lot, it's cumulative -- taking the stairs, walking instead of driving and playing outside with the kids all count. These 10,000 steps equal approximately 5 miles of walking a day.
Lift weights or perform body resistance exercises at least two days a week, working all the major muscle groups. Join a gym and use weight machines, use dumbbells at home or do resistance exercises such as power yoga.
Perform at least 75 minutes of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. These activities could include jogging or aerobics classes and vigorous workouts on cardio equipment such as elliptical machines and stair climbers.
Vary your exercise routine to keep yourself motivated. Gyms often offer a free day or week pass to prospective members, and yoga studios sometimes offer a free class. Try as many forms of exercise as possible before buying a membership -- you're more likely to go if you love the place.
Figure out how many calories you need to eat per day. Online caloric needs calculators give you a number based on your age, weight and activity level. Losing 1 pound requires eating 3,500 fewer calories than you burn, so combine mindful eating and exercise to create that deficit each week.
Cut out ingredients you can't pronounce. Instead, fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. Plant foods should make up the bulk of your diet.
Limit your fat and sugar intake. Make sparing use of healthy oils such as olive and coconut, or get your fats from foods such as nuts and avocados.
Eat whole foods as often as possible. Beans, nuts and tofu are low-fat, single-ingredient protein sources, as are fish, poultry and lean cuts of meat. Eat approximately 46 grams of protein a day if you're a woman between the ages of 19 and 70, and 56 grams a day if you're a man. Protein should constitute 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories.
Pair lean protein with whole grains -- the more fiber you get in your diet, the better, so choose brown rice, quinoa and steel-cut oats over white rice, bread and sugary cereal.
Replace sweetened beverages with water and green tea, and have fruit for dessert. You might find that the less sugar you eat, the less you want.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- Helpguide: Healthy Eating
- Harvard School of Public Health: Healthy Eating Plate and Healthy Eating Pyramid
- Oprah: Exercise Excuses: How to Start Exercising
- The Walking Site: 10,000 Steps a Day
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition for Everyone: Protein
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Nutrition for Everyone: Carbohydrates