Ideally your carb choices will be 100% whole grain. There are so many options available: oats, barley, rye, quinoa, brown rice and more. Sourdough is also allowable-the enzymes create improved digestion and the advantages compensate for the white flour.
Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
(See the first point for an easy way to achieve this.) Go for a variety of colors and flavors and textures. In today's world our choices are almost unlimited.
Eat at least 3-5 servings of healthy proteins daily
There are so many healthy protein options too: eggs, yogurt, whey, cheese, beans, lentils, nuts, cottage cheese, lean meats, seafood and more.
Drink more water
We've all heard you should drink 8 glasses or 64 ounces of water per day. More recently, however, I've read you should drink 1/2 of your weight in ounces of water daily. So, a 120-pound woman needs 60 ounces and a 200-pound man needs 100 ounces. Others even suggest we should be drinking 2/3 of our weight in ounces of water. However, if this is more than your current intake, I suggest you increase the amount slowly.
Take the stairs
I do this all the time and usually beat the elevator. It's boring to stand there and wait, then stand inside and wait some more. Unless you're carrying unwieldy luggage, why not just take the stairs and increase your activity level? Every little bit counts.
Exercise 6 days a week
God himself rested on Day 7, and so should you. It gives your body a chance to rebuild and restore as well as rest. If you haven't been active, start with 3 days a week and work your way up to 6, but make it a part of your daily routine, not a daily decision. And mix it up a bit: weights, cardio, sports, walks and the list can go on.
Stop eating at 8 p.m
(or twelve hours before breakfast)
This eliminates the habit of midnight snacking. And, recent research has shown this habit also improves your memory.
We're not talking about a Big Gulp and Doritos; we're talking about grape tomatoes, mozzarella and Triscuits or celery and peanut butter or a banana and a small handful of cashews. You get the idea. Giving your body a boost between meals helps stave off hunger pangs and keeps you in control.
This is the key that really works for me. I have failed at a number of diets, but with this one simple habit I've kept the weight off: If you're craving chocolate (or whatever your dieting vice is), allow yourself a helping but keep the serving size to 100 calories. Don't demonize any foods but allow no more than 2 cheats a week.
Get more sleep
Sleep more than 6 hours a night. Most doctors recommend 7 to 9 hours for adults. A good night's rest does wonders for your breathing, your heart, your emotions as well as your energy level.
Your mind and spirit are inseparably connected to your body. It's amazing what prayer, meditation, and reading scriptures or other uplifting books can do for your health and wellbeing. Additionally, fostering gratitude and forgiveness in your life can offer you true peace and contentment.
Jana Winters Parkin is an artist, writer, and adjunct faculty at UVU. She co-hosts a popular podcast for women: "The Living Room" (bit.ly/TLRSHowiTunes) and spends every day possible exploring mountain trails. Contact her at