When people choose to embark on a health/wellness/fitness journey, they often think that it means a complete, sweeping overhaul of their life. Things like cleanses, 21 day challenges, extreme restrictive diets and new fitness programs all aim to spin your routine in a complete 180*.
Couch potato?... Start exercising for at least an hour a day.
Fast food addict?... Eat nothing but vegetables, rice and white fish for 3 weeks.
Shoot, you like to chew your food?... Nothing but green juices for a seven days straight.
These things may seem like a good idea at the time. You are fed up with your state of un-health, and you are motivated to completely change your ways… for a day or two. Then it becomes a nuisance. You’re starving and cranky and your whole body aches from your 90-minute plyo workouts in your living room. Inevitably, you go back to your old ways.
Why? Because they are your habits. They are your comfort zone. They don’t require extra effort or thought or discomfort. It’s human nature to rely on our habits, and that’s totally OK. So why not play into this? When you slowly shift your habits over time, make small changes and stick with them, you will incrementally change your everyday living M.O. to one that promotes, rather than inhibits, a healthy lifestyle.
These habits are what, ultimately, will morph your body, your attitude, and your life outlook to one that is healthy and thriving. It’s not a sudden turnaround that will do it, but rather, a small slow turn toward wellness.
Here are some small changes you can make on a daily basis to make Health a Habit. Don’t do them all at once- that’s too much, too fast. Choose one that seems attainable for the first week or two. When those things start to feel like second nature, add in more. Over time, you won’t even realize you are doing it anymore. You’ll just be living it.
Drink more water - sounds easy, but most of us are in a constant state of slight dehydration that is tortuous for your body.
Get yourself a fun, cool water bottle (mine is a 32oz HydroFlask that I have decorated with stickers that mean something to me) and set benchmarks throughout the day. “I am going to drink one bottle before I get to work, refill and drink another before lunch, one more after lunch, and another throughout the evening at home.
Try a little hydrating boost in the morning: mix 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, juice of half a lemon, and a few drops of stevia in a big glass of water and sip on that first thing in the morning. It kind of tastes like lemonade and does wonders for hydration and digestion
Sleep more - prioritizing just one more hour of sleep a night can make a world of difference.
There is no TV show that is more important than your sleep and recovery. So, set your DVR to record that “prime time” show (why do they call it that? It’s prime time for bed!) and catch up later. Your health is more important.
Try to add some quiet white noise like a small fan.
Keep your room a little cooler at night.
Stop looking at your phone (or other blue light devices) 30 minutes before bed.
Add in more whole foods - A healthy diet is not about what you eliminate, but instead, what you include.
Add in all kinds of vegetables that you like where ever you can, and you will find that you crowd out other, less healthy parts of meals. Start with ones you know you like, and over time experiment with trying others. Each veggie is packed with a different profile of nutrients, so variety can be beneficial.
Make it a goal to add in a few handfuls of greens at 2 meals a day. Here are some ideas.
Start moving away from super processed, packaged foods- tell yourself that you will finish what you have on hand, and then restock with whole food alternatives or opt for choices that have minimal ingredients on the labels.
Snack on healthy options- Some people are snackers. No problem there. Just reach for healthier options. Replace your chips or candy bar with some fruit or some nuts.
Move more - Just try to move your body in an intentional way on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be an intense session at the gym (unless that’s your jam, then go for it). There is no right way to exercise- as long as you get yourself moving. Just pick something you enjoy, and try to move intentionally everyday.
Take the kids or the dog for a nice long walk.
Take the stairs up to your office
Try an at home yoga video.
If you like it, go for a jog or try and new fitness class at the gym.
Declutter - even if you don’t mind a little mess, having a clear organized space is calming to your mind.
Invest in your mental health- it is just as important in a healthy lifestyle as diet and exercise
Buy a pretty journal and just jot something down each day. Five minutes of reflection time can be so cathartic.
Try meditation. If you’re new to it, there are some good apps that will get you started. I really like the Headspace and Calm apps.
This may seem like a long list, but remember you don’t need to start all at once. Choose one thing that looks manageable for you in your current life, and add that in. After a week or two, you won’t even realize you’re doing it any more. It has become a healthy habit in your day. Continue with that one, and then try adding in something new. There is no rush, no prize for winning some race to a healthy life. It looks different for everyone, and you have to give yourself time to figure out how it will work for you. Ease into it, make moderate changes, and don’t complicate things too much for yourself. Make Health a Habit.