Losing weight or making other healthy lifestyle changes boil down to repeatedly doing the behaviors that support these goals and eliminating those that don't.   In other words creating good daily health habits!  Diets and extreme interventions don't work. Making small but effective incremental changes in your daily routine does.  Here are five healthy habits that will support weight loss, weight maintenance, and help you to kick ass well into your golden years.

#1. Drink your water.  Water has a vital role in optimal health and achieving a healthy weight. Water helps maintain the fluids in our bodies that are responsible for digestion, circulation, transporting nutrients and maintaining body temperature.  Water energizes muscles so we can perform daily physical activities and train at our best. Water is the ideal choice to substitute for higher calorie beverages if you want lose weight. Staying hydrated will also aid weight maintenance by preventing over consumption of calories due to thirst rather than true hunger. 

How can you create a healthy hydration habit?  I have two strategies that will work. One, you can fill a large bottle with your goal amount (work up to ½ your bodyweight in ounces) and keep it with you until you drink every drop.  If that’s not practical, a second method  is to buy smaller bottled waters and stash them in all your main locations such as your car, gym bag, purse, and desk at work.  If you like technology there are simple and free phone apps such as “Daily Water” to remind and motivate you to drink up.

#2. Set yourself up for snacking success. When you’re busy, hungry,  and don’t have time for a meal you are going to snack.  To ensure your snacks are nourishing  you’ll have to plan ahead.  Without that planning it’s oh so easy to fall prey to those left over donuts in the office! To avoid temptation put together a bunch of healthy snacks at the beginning of the week. Bring some to work and have a few in the car.  Try to focus on choosing whole foods that contain fiber and protein for satiety.   Low gylcemic fruits,  nut butter,  veggies, and greek yogurt are good choices.   In the car you will need dry snacks like a small pack of nuts, trail mix, or a healthy protein bar (Rx bars are yummy). If you have the nutritious stuff available you will be able to prevent unhealthy snacking and keep yourself on track with your health and weight loss goals.  For some great snack ideas check out the link:   http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-low-carb-snacks

# 3. HIIT it every day.   If you have 20 minutes per day you can change your body composition and improve your fitness.  Just 20 minutes! An hour at the gym is great.  But many people do not have the time, motivation, or money to devote to working out.   HIIT or high intensity interval training is the perfect solution. This format involves alternating short bouts of intense exercise (burpees) with short periods of rest or low intensity exercise (marching in place). Research has repeatedly shown it is very effective in helping people lose weight and get more fit.  You can do research on the internet if you are not sure what exercises to try.  If you like phone apps there are some great ones that will provide ready-made HIIT workouts appropriate to your level of fitness.  Some good apps are Nike plus Training Club, Sworkit, and Keelo.  The main thing is to commit 20 minutes a day and choose exercises that will make you sweat, breathe hard, and feel the burn.  Create the movement habit!

#4.  Change your oils.  This health hack won’t make much difference in your outer appearance but will definitely improve your physical health and reduce your risk for disease.  Oils are a common source of fats in our diet.  As such, they can play a positive role in weight management and overall health.   The important thing is to consume the right kinds of oils and steer clear of the less healthy ones. Unfortunately, the common oils used in processed foods and for cooking in most restaurants have been shown to have negative health effects. Canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and vegetable oil should be avoided as they are genetically modified, highly refined, processed, and unstable.  Research shows that people who consume these types of oils suffer more cancers than those who eat Omega-3 rich oils such as flax oil.  The best oils to consume are natural, unrefined, and rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Change your oils to avocado oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, and olive oil.  These oils are safe, delicious, and have protective health benefits.  

#5. Start your day with intention.  If you are having trouble making the lifestyle changes needed to lose weight and be healthier maybe it’s because you have not made it a priority yet.  To make significant change it’s necessary to intentionally focus positive energy and effort in the direction of that change!  One of the best ways to do this is to take 5 to 10 minutes at the START of your day to set your intention.  Before you pick up the phone, get distracted, or start getting everyone else ready for their day you can take a few minutes to plan for success in taking care of your health goals.  You can journal, mediate, or just think through your goals over your morning coffee or tea.  Ask yourself, “how am I going to take care of my health today?”  Think it through.  Take it seriously.  Then follow through with action.  Creating this daily habit will work wonders with your health and other areas of your life.