Our philosophy starts with a few simple things: follow a natural diet, engage in natural exercise patterns, go outside often, sleep well and drink plenty of water. But while big principles like this are easy to remember, life throws up many little challenges every day. Below are some tips to help you cope with these.

Eating healthy

Healthy eating is not just about knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid. It is also about making the right decisions throughout the day:

  • Whenever you feel hungry in between meals, have a drink of water first. Often, your brain gets its signals mixed up and what you actually need is water. It’s perfectly OK to liven up your water with a few slices of ginger, cucumber, lemon or mint leaves. Even when you’re fasting.

  • Coming up with a new healthy meal every day can be a daunting task. Most families have a list of around 7 go-to-recipes they come back to again and again. Whenever you and your family really like a healthy meal, make it part of the rotation.

  • If you don’t have time to cook an elaborate meal, don’t worry. Bacon and eggs or minced meat with finely chopped apples and some cinnamon are great when you’re hungry.

  • It’s a good idea to keep some emergency foods in the fridge for when you’re on the hunt for a snack. Things like a piece of cheese, deli meats, deviled eggs or crispy vegetables (like carrot or celery) with some dipping sauce are easy to prepare and keep in your fridge for a rainy day.

  • Healthy eating doesn’t have to be more expensive. Buy fruits and vegetables locally and in season, buy cuts of meat other people avoid, have meat free days, use frozen foods as a substitute and don’t eat out too often. And don’t forget the amount you used to spend on crap…

Healthy exercise

Exercising is vital to living a healthy life. But doing exercise in a way that you can keep it up is harder than it sounds.

  • Look for exercises you find fun. Try many different things and see what exercises gives you energy. Having fun exercising makes everything so much easier. Any exercise can earn you food (check out the information pop-ups for the three exercise activities)

  • Don’t worry about getting results. Focus on putting in the effort to earn foods or stars. Don’t worry about how fast or how far you went. Over time, you’ll find you can do more reps, lift more weight or run faster.

  • Plan your exercises outside as much as possible. Being outside is healthy and invigorating. Leave your phone at home so you can really clear your head without checking your email or instagram every two minutes.

  • Don’t underestimate the potential of DYI projects. You’re using many different muscles, you tend to push yourself to get it finished and you get a nice sensation of achievement at the end.

Habits and motivation

Building new habits is easier said than done. But being aware of tricky situations is often enough to beat them.

  • Try to find 2 or 3 habits you’re comfortable doing every day. This gives you a nice steady rhythm and it makes earning your foods much easier. Taking a walk, going to bed on time, exposing yourself to the sun, no phone at night and drinking water are all good candidates for daily habits.

  • Depending on your old habits, breakfast can be a tough meal when you grow tired of having eggs seven different ways. Some inspiration: yogurt with granola based on nuts, seeds and dried fruits (make sure you earn them!); banana pancakes; fruit smoothies; even stir fries and casseroles can make a good breakfast. It’s also very natural to have some leftovers from the night before.

  • Bad habits are often triggered by places or situations. Whenever you catch yourself sliding back to an old habit, pause to think what brought it on. This can help you avoid your triggers in the future.

  • Don’t weigh yourself too often. Your weight is not a very reliable measure of your health, and changing your behavior every day based on what the scales say is the exact opposite of building healthy habits. Lock your scales away and only weigh yourself once a week/month (if you really feel the need).

Fasting and calorie restriction

Skipping one or more meals has been shown to reverse aging and have a positive effect on health. But like with anything, there are do’s and don’ts.

  • Don’t feel you have to fast every day. It’s perfectly fine to keep three meals a day as your baseline and only do fasts a few days a week (when they are the daily challenge, for example).

  • One of the big risks of fasting is that you grow hungry an hour or so before lunch. If this happens, don’t fix your appetite by indulging in a string of snacks. Either have a big glass of water to hold you over, or have your planned healthy lunch a little earlier.

  • Skipping a meal is not a license to stay in bed or sit on the couch all morning. You’ll find you can do walking exercises easily. Strength and sprinting exercises may trigger your appetite, so don’t do them unless you know you can resist.

  • Don’t use fasting as punishment. If you’ve had a bad food day, it is more important to load up on your essential nutrients than to compensate for the extra calories. Sentence yourself to some time in the kitchen to make a delicious big salad.

Miscellaneous advice

Just some final tidbits that were on our mind.

  • When you are trying to change your life, your friends and colleagues can frustrate your progress by (unintentionally) belittling your efforts. Thinking of a short elevator pitch can help you cope. Something along the lines of “I’m trying a new diet based on unprocessed foods and using my cravings to motivate myself. I haven’t made up my mind about it, but I want to give it a fair shake.” This leaves rooms for questions, while also stretching that you’re not here to preach to them.

  • Yawning/stretching is a great way to keep your muscles toned. Lions will hardly move all day, but they will stretch a lot. Society can frown upon yawning, but really letting go and stretching those arms as far as they will go does wonders for your body.

  • Similarly, taking a nap can be viewed in Western Society as not keeping up with the Joneses. But some of the greatest minds in history were famous nappers. Take short naps so you don’t accidentally slip into deep sleep. If you’re feeling tired every day, make sure you sleep well.

  • Finally, don’t let your health become an obsession. Healthy meals should leave you full and satisfied, healthy exercise should be fun and energizing and your healthy habits should feel natural. If you’re constantly thinking and worrying about your health, it may be time to take a break…

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