10 Small Changes That Can Improve Your Health
Right now, I don't have any weight loss goals. Instead, I want to focus on making small changes over time, for the rest of time. By focusing on one small aspect of your life that you can improve upon, you make the goal of better health more achievable in the long run. And that's where it really matters!
Make Sleep a Priority
I can't say enough good things about sleep, yet it's one of the things I see get forgotten most often when it comes to good health. Without enough sleep, a cascade of less-than-stellar health consequences follow: you can't think as clearly, you don't have the energy for exercise, you end up more hungry and you start eating the wrong kinds of foods.
Tip: Commit to being in bed 30 minutes earlier than you usually are — set an alarm to help you remember. Power down from electronics to help your brain prepare for sleep. A cup of herbal tea and a good book are my secret weapons to a solid eight to nine hours of slumber each night.
It's easy to stay shacked up inside and binge-watch your favorite show, but that's no way to live! Regular social activity actually can help to improve longevity, boost immunity and encourage healthy behaviors.
Tip: Whether it's sitting down to lunch with your coworkers, getting coffee with a friend or chatting with your mom for 10 minutes, make sure to have some interaction with at least one person every day. Or, enlist the help of a friend when it comes to being active. This will help hold you both accountable and encourage habits such as walking, running or attending fitness classes. Plus, you'll get to catch up while you work up a sweat.
Here's an added bonus tip: Hug someone! It's amazing how one simple gesture can boost your mood for the entire day.
Sit Down to a Meal
This is one that I really struggle with, but even just one proper meal a day can make a big difference. Eating without distractions allows you to enjoy your food more and avoid mindless eating.
Tip: Make a date to eat dinner with friends, family or roommates at a table. Or, step away from your work and eat lunch somewhere other than your desk. Live alone? Set the mood for yourself with some good music and candles, and set your plate to look like something you actually want to dive into, instead of just some food on a plate.
Easier said than done, right?
Tip: Take just five minutes to sit down, breathe and not worry about squat. Just forget it all. Believe me, life will go on. Feeling even more adventurous? Give your body a big ol' cat-like stretch. You'll come out feeling refreshed, energized and ready to tackle whatever is next.
It sounds counterintuitive, right? It seems like hyper-efficiency is the only way to be nowadays. But, when it comes to making small changes for a healthier life, inefficiency is key.
Tip: Park far away when shopping or at work. Take several trips to bring in the groceries. Walk to a coworker's office instead of emailing or calling. Small inefficiencies can add to your daily steps without you even noticing.
Write It and Forget It
When in doubt, write it out! From thoughts, feelings or food, writing can help reduce stress.
Tip: If something is really bothering you, write down everything you're feeling, as hurtful or hateful as it may be. Then … destroy the paper: shred it, burn it, flush it down the toilet! The act itself can feel gratifying and helps take the added stress and weight of whatever is bothering you out of your mind.
No matter what life-changing, too-good-to-be-true mantras are spelled out on the front of that shiny and glowing healthy food package, flip it over to see its true colors.
Tip: Look at the ingredients list on every food you buy that comes in a package. You'll be surprised how many seemingly straightforward foods are secretly loaded with preservatives, trans fats and sugars.
Swap Out One Drink for Water
"Drink more water." "Eight glasses a day." "Drink half your body weight in ounces." It can feel overwhelming thinking about how much water you're supposed to be drinking.
Tip: While I recommend most of your daily drinks be water, start by swapping just one drink a day for water. Instead of an extra cup of coffee in the morning, opt for warm water with lemon. Or, instead of an afternoon soda, drink flavored seltzer. Once you see how easy it is to swap one drink, slowly swapping out more over time becomes a breeze.
Keep Temptation Away
It's so easy to overindulge and mindlessly eat your favorite foods when they're sitting out. Keeping them out of sight can help keep them out of mind, too.
Tip: If there's a food you can't stop eating once you start, keep it out of the house or at least somewhere that is hard to reach. Then, if you truly have a craving for that food, eat it with intention and enjoy every bite.
Give Yourself Credit
You are, in fact, awesome! By wanting better health, you've made the biggest small change you can make. Pat yourself on the back, tell yourself how awesome you are, and keep on truckin'!
Tip: Whenever you hit speed bumps or roadblocks in your journey to better health, remember why you started and thank yourself for going in the right direction. Staying positive will make every setback seem smaller.
(Photo: FogStock/Vico Images/Erik Palmer/Thinkstock)