Healthy for Life! How to Live Your Healthiest Life – Adding positive habits and breaking bad habits

by Liz Stovall, MPH Manager, Division of Fitness and Wellness

Changing habits can be challenging and those on a weight loss journey often underestimate how difficult it can be to alter their everyday patterns. So often the weight loss focus is on what can’t be eaten. For example, “I can’t have fast food for lunch anymore.” or “There goes eating ice cream for dessert.” or “I’ll miss my buttered popcorn on movie night.”

This segment in the Healthy for Life article series isn’t about what you need to give up, but what you should to add to your day. Keep in mind that new behaviors take time. These changes may not come automatically or be easy. If you give them your best effort by concentrating on what you’re adding, you’ll pay less attention to what you are giving up.

You are encouraged to do your best to embrace positive behavior changes and remember, no matter how big or small, positive changes add up.

+ Eat a healthy breakfast (but not too much).

WHAT: Have breakfast every morning. You don’t need to eat a lot – just something to get you off to a good start.

WHY: Research shows that people who eat a healthy breakfast manage their weight better than people who don’t eat breakfast. Breakfast is associated with improved performance at school and work, and it helps prevent you from becoming ravenous in the day.


  • Keep it whole. Try whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-grain cold cereal, and whole-grain toast.
  • Include some color. Add some fresh or frozen unsweetened fruit.
  • Make it filling. Low-fat milk and yogurt, an egg, nuts, seeds, and nut butters such as peanut butter can help you feel satisfied throughout the morning.
  • Plan ahead. If time is an issue, place a box of cereal, a bowl and a spoon on the table the evening before.
  • Choose wisely. Select your cereal – hot or cold – by checking the Nutrition Facts label for fiber (choose more) and sugar (choose less). Top with banana slices or berries.
  • Mix it up. Try a smoothie made with fruit and add low-fat Greek yogurt. Blend the ingredients to a smooth consistency.
  • Bring it with. Select items you can grab and take with you to work. Convenient foods include apples, oranges, bananas, pre-portioned cereals, low-fat yogurt in single-serving containers, whole-grain bagels (mini-sized), and low-fat cottage cheese in single-serve containers. Stir in berries or fruit to add fiber and sweetness.
  • Wrap it up. Make a breakfast wrap with whole-wheat tortillas, roll in scrambled eggs with diced peppers and onions. Or peanut butter and banana.
  • If you don’t like traditional breakfast foods, eat something healthy that you do like. For example, fix yourself a sandwich made with lean meat, low-fat cheese, vegetables and whole-grain bread.

Use this habit tracker to monitor your progress. Find inspired breakfast ideas here.

Sometimes the most intense longings for food happen right when you’re at your weakest emotional points. Many of us turn to food for comfort – be it consciously or unconsciously – when dealing with difficult situations or when looking for something to do when bored.

To keep food out of your mood, try these suggestions.

  • Distract yourself from eating by calling a friend, running an errand, or going for a walk. When you focus your mind on something else, the food cravings may quickly go away.
  • Don’t keep comfort foods in the house. If you turn to high-fat, high-calorie foods whenever your upset or depressed, try to get rid of them.
  • Identify your mood. Often the urge to eat can be attributed to a specific mood and not to physical hunger.
  • When you feel down, try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. For example, write down all the positive reasons why you want to lose weight.


Other Resources:

August Healthy for Life article

Upcoming Healthy for Life Educational Experiences:

                Eating for a Stronger, Healthier You
                Thursday, September 19, 5-6pm
                Henrico County Training Center, 1st floor break room

 Do you sometimes feel confused by everything you hear about healthy eating? You’re not alone! Many of us find it hard to sort through all the information that’s out there. A good start is learning the basic food groups and servings from each one. This educational experience will teach you all the food groups, with a special focus on fruits and vegetables. Learn how smart food choices can fuel your body and mind! In addition, program participants will work in teams to create Creamy Tomato Soup from fresh ingredients.

                Chopped Salad Competition
                Thursday, September 26, 5-6pm
                Henrico County Training Center, 1st floor break room

Roll up your sleeves, put on your apron and get ready to chop. Experience the fun of creating simple, healthy salads. Compete in teams to create a healthy, chopped salad using fresh ingredients.

For more information on the Healthy for Life program, How to Live Your Healthiest Life article series, and/or to register for upcoming educational experiences, please contact Liz Stovall, Fitness/Wellness Division Manager, [email protected] or 501-7556.