Routines and habits make life a whole lot easier, that's for sure. By building good habits into your day to day life, these small changes can add up to really big improvements in your health, wellbeing and quality of living. Also known as the 1% phenomenon, the Marginal Gains technique can be applied to all aspects of your life, such as business or sport, but an easy way to start is in your diet.
The Numbers Game
We all know the words of wisdom - walk 10,000 steps a day, eat 5 portions of fruit and veggies; easy to remember and to understand, and once you build systems for getting these in without thinking, this is a really easy win to improve your health.
Take the well-known advice to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Getting enough water is known to increase your energy, care for your joints and help you to recover from ill-health. However, the Mayo Clinic warns that the 8 glass rule may be an oversimplification; 'Water is essential to good health, yet needs vary by individual.' So what should you do? An easy way is to get a bottle that holds 8 glasses. Every day for a fortnight, make sure you drink that bottle and keep an eye on your exercise level, the temperature of your environment and your general health. Do you feel thirsty at all? Is your pee pale-colored? Fine-tune how much you need and then make sure you fill that bottle. Every. Single. Day. And very soon, it becomes second nature.
Follow the Rainbow
If you're not a numbers person, why not think more artistically about your small changes?
The American Heart Association advises that 'The best way to get all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need is to eat a variety of colorful fruits and veggies.'
To really maximise the benefits from eating a broad spectrum of different colored foods, you can try to make sure that your red and green fruits and vegetables are superfoods. The term superfoods has been coined to describe those foods that have greater nutritional value and often have notable antioxidant properties. It's a useful term to look out for at the store.
If you're going green, this can be as easy as throwing a handful of spinach in your pasta sauce or choosing an avocado salad for dinner. Red superfoods are really versatile. Try a handful of berries at breakfast, or adding tomatoes to your lunchtime sandwich. Less obvious red superfoods include turmeric, cinnamon and pomegranate, so by planning your diet to include lots of green and red superfood you are creating a quick and easy way of making sure you get a really wide range of different vitamins and minerals.
A Little Bit Of What you Fancy
A final small habit to consider taking up is in small treats. It's all too easy to be really restrictive with your diet and then have a massive blow out. This is a much simpler tactic than calorie counting, weighing and measuring your food all the time to see if your diet can accommodate that sweet treat you're craving. But it can be much easier to develop a healthier approach to treats. NBC reported on dietician Amanda Baker Lemein's Two Treat Rule. Lemein suggests that two small treats a week 'will give you self-control around the foods you love while turning healthy eating into a lifelong habit.' There are really straightforward ways to make this healthy habit even easier, and it will soon become second nature. Spending a little bit of time looking up the nutritional information of your favourite treats can help you keep your portions under control. Buying these foods in smaller portions can really help - try a pack of individually wrapped fun-size candy bars, rather than a large sharing bag. Or don't buy them at all! Make your treat an event, not a habit, and walk to the store to pick up your favourite pick me up.
With a little bit of thought and tiny tweaks to your lifestyle, you really can make big changes. So what will your 1% change be today?