FOOD

5 Healthy (And Easy) Habits Your Body Will Thank You For

Feel better, inside AND out.

09/01/2017 7:54 AM AEDT | Updated 09/01/2017 11:39 AM AEDT
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4. Get enough sleep.

If your current goal is to 'work out five times a week' when you're used to zero exercise, or to 'lose X amount of kilos by March', now is a good time to slow it down and start implementing easy healthy habits.

After all, the key to making big changes in terms of diet and fitness (and sticking with them) is taking small steps.

"Healthy habits take the stress out of looking after yourself. When something is a habit we don't have to think about doing it or worry that we might forget a crucial part," celebrity trainer Tegan Haining, who has trained the likes of David Beckham and Natalie Imbruglia, told The Huffington Post Australia.

Creating habits means that reaching your goals will be easier and more achievable -- and they will actually last for the long haul.

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Set yourself a challenge of listening to YOUR body.

"Small habits make huge lasting changes for our body and mind in the long run. Think of the cumulative effect of daily meditation -- it improves our concentration, as well as providing clarity and calm," Haining said.

"Exercise becomes easier with each small step taken daily, and our digestive system thanks us once healthy eating habits become the norm, becoming efficient at flushing out toxins, maximising energy and nutrient intake."

But how do we make healthy habits actually stick?

"If you find it hard to form new habits, just pick 1-3 things to change in a given week and do that and just that, until you don't even have to think about it anymore," Haining said.

"Once you feel you are ready, introduce another three things, and keep going until before you know it you have healthy habits across the board with diet, exercise and lifestyle."

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Here are five healthy habits our bodies will thank us for.

1. Hydrate

It might sound simple, but drinking enough water does wonders for our brain function, skin, digestion, circulation of nutrients in the body, and more.

"Good old H2O provides a myriad of functions within the body, hence why a lack of it can make us feel sluggish and tired," Haining explained.

"I always try to drink two glasses upon rising to kickstart my intake for the day."

2. Stretch

Stretching isn't just for before and after you run. Try a simple six minute yoga sequence on YouTube to get you started, and work your way up to more.

"Daily stretching allows our blood to move more freely through our fascia to our muscles and organs," Haining said.

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You don't have to be flexible to practise yoga.

3. Avoid refined carbohydrates

We often hear this guideline, but it's easy to forget. While carbohydrates are important for energy, not all carbs are created equal. As a general rule of thumb, avoid refined or simple carbohydrates.

"This includes baked goods, white breads, white flours, white rice, chocolate, flavoured milks and yoghurts," Haining told HuffPost Australia.

"These are all designed to give us instant energy, but lack nutrient density and spikes our insulin levels which encourages fat storage in our cells, rather than fat burning."

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Go for complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread and pasta, brown rice, legumes and veggies.

4. Get enough sleep

"Try to sleep with the sun, this means between 10pm to 6am," Haining said.

"When we sleep our body releases growth hormones to repair our tissue. This is when we will develop our muscle tone, making all those Pilates classes pay off.

"Plus, adequate sleep allows us to wake feeling energised and less likely to reach for a sugary breakfast or double shot espresso to get us going in the morning."

5. Dry body brushing

Dry body brushing involves using a natural body brush to scrub your skin. It sounds simple, but dry brushing not only buffs away dead skin, but helps promote tighter skin, cell renewal and blood flow.

"Our skin is our biggest organ, so why not give it a helping hand in shedding off the excess dead skin, along with the toxins excreted through our pores," Haining said.

"It only takes a few minutes before your shower or bath and leaves your skin feeling silky soft."

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Starting at your feet, make long sweeps and brush towards the heart.

As for habits we should aim to get rid of?

"Don't have lemon water and then brush your teeth," Haining said. "This is a great way to wear down the enamel on your teeth! Do it the other way around, or just have the water -- still great even without the lemon."

Haining also recommends skipping your evening glass of wine, or switching it for exercise.

"Life is stressful, for sure. Having alcohol might be a quick fix, but it can also greatly disrupt the quality of your sleep, leading to you waking up feeling tired or irritable," Haining said.

"This isn't a great way to start the day, as you are more likely to skip your workout or reach for the chocolate bar to make yourself feel better. If you've had a stressful day, try doing some exercise in the evening to blow off steam instead."

The last habit Haining recommends giving up is excessive exercise. While we may think this is beneficial, over-training can cause stress in the body.

"Give yourself at least one day off a week to allow your body to rejuvenate. You can actually find you are stronger if you allow yourself a day of rest," Haining said.

"Listen to your body and don't cause stress by training multiple times per day. Signs that you are over-training could include prolonged muscle soreness, trouble falling asleep or insomnia, or excessive weight loss."

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