“Simple lifestyle changes can transform your health and therefore improve every other area of your life.”
If you’re anything like I was, you’re probably addicted to carbs and/or sugar, and you’re not exactly fond of exercise. Actually, you’d rather complete high school all over again, than run for thirty minutes a day or switch to a clean-eating diet. I can’t tell you how many times I faked cramps to get out of PE (male gym teachers are so uncomfortable with the thought of menstrual cycles; works like a charm every time). This is something I most definitely need to analyze if I want to be a health coach (and part of the reason I was so insecure about pursuing it anyway).
But what I think most of us fail to realize is how simple and easy it is to be a basically healthy person. You don’t have to run if that’s not your thing, and you don’t have to limit yourself to eating only broccoli and lean meat. You just have to develop basic, healthy habits. If your health goal is simply to develop habits that will allow you live a longer life, not be a bodybuilder, then you simply need to focus on habits that will be easy to maintain for your lifestyle.
Simple lifestyle changes can transform your health and therefore improve every other area of your life.
Here are 8 easy ways to get healthy now.
1. Drink Water and Only Water
I know. I heard your sigh loud and clear through my computer screen. You’re thinking you can’t possibly drink as much water as you’re supposed to, or drink only water because that’s so boring!
That is always my problem. How can I drink the recommended 80oz of water a day?! But try to think of how many ounces of other liquids you drink all day (soda, juice, tea, coffee). If you counted your intake of those liquids I would bet it comes close to, or over the recommended water amount.
Your body needs a liquid that is not filled with caffeine and sugar, to help it function at its maximum level. If you have a hard time giving up caffeine and sugar in your drinks it’s okay to start small. Start by replacing one drink a day. If you normally would order a Coke when you go out to eat, order water with lemon instead. If you normally start with 3 cups of coffee in the morning, try 2 instead and replace the third with water. Infuse your water with fruits and vegetables, or try flavored water mixers like Mio.
If you have Will, you will find a way. Give yourself a break and ease into it, all the while believing you’re going to accomplish it.
2. Exercise for 10 Minutes a Day
You hate exercise, right? Or maybe you don’t hate it, maybe you just don’t have time for it. Not everyone can dedicate 30 minutes to 1 hour to exercise every day. But here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be 30 minutes, or even 20. All you need is 10 minutes a day to make a healthy difference in your life. It’s literally the least we can do.
Even if you hate it, (lord help me, I hate it) 10 minutes is almost nothing. If you really don’t have 10 minutes, then wake up 10 minutes early or go to bed 10 minutes later. While I was in the Weight Watchers program I learned that even 10 minutes of activity a day, every day, can drastically improve your health.
I would also like to mention here that you really shouldn’t take time out of life to do things you hate.
Find an exercise you like, or that you can at least tolerate because it’s not so miserable. Walk in place, lift your knees, do jumping jacks, walk up and down the stairs, or lift arm weights. We all have 10 minutes to spare, and if we don’t, we need to stop and examine what’s important.
I’ve started doing this recently and it’s made me feel stronger and more clear-headed throughout the day. The beautiful part about setting such a small goal is that once you realize how easy it is for you to accomplish, you may even decide to add more time as you go. When your body feels good, your soul will follow.
3. Stretch Your Body
If you really, really don’t want to do the exercise thing, I challenge you to at least spend a few minutes stretching your body. Or, if you’re super awesome, do both
Stretching is an easy and healthy way to release all the bent up stress that builds up in your muscles and joints. I kind of love just getting on the floor and pretending like I know all these awesome Yoga poses. I find ways to stretch my arms, my legs, my back, and torso. Sometimes I even plank (but not for very long, yet).
Move slowly. Focus on your breath, and reach for the sky. It feels a little silly when you first start doing it, but after a while, you’ll start to discover that it feels good. Sometimes, you even crave it. You can find some great beginners stretches here. Or, there are all kinds of beginner’s yoga videos on YouTube.
Stretching is a relaxing way to spend time getting to know your body.
4. Open Your Mind to Food
Just as with everything else in the self-help world, you have to open your mind to new possibilities. Stop saying you can’t eat this, or you won’t eat that, or you don’t like this, or you would never try that…etc.
If you say you can’t, you’re right. If you say you can, you’re also right. Which right do you want to be?
Try foods on the menu you normally wouldn’t. Try foods again that you’ve convinced yourself you didn’t like in the past. When I was a kid I HATED onions. As I got older and realized how many foods contain onions I decided people must like them for a reason. Now I understand how much flavor they can really add to a dish.
Try new restaurants. Try healthy recipes with ingredients you’re not familiar with. Educate yourself on foods you do love, but that aren’t healthy (personally, I love the Fooducate app for that). If you love food so much, help yourself to realize there is a whole world of food out there you haven’t even become acquainted with yet.
Healthy eating becomes so much simpler when you have more to choose from. You’re not going to like everything, but give everything an honest chance.
5. Walk Outside
Walking inside can feel boring and repetitive. Go for a short walk, even if it’s only 10 minutes, outside. Enjoy nature, notice your surroundings, listen to the sounds, focus on your breath, take time to clear your head and soak it all in.
Most of the general population can walk. It’s an easy and simple exercise. It’s something we’re good at and we have a lot of experience in. We walk every day to and from our homes and our jobs. We walk upstairs and down halls. Why not walk with the purpose of health and clarity?
I know when I don’t want to walk, I usually use the weather as an excuse. We’ve become wimps when it comes to hot, cold, or rainy. The truth is, for the majority of us, the weather is rarely severe enough that it keeps us from doing outdoor activities. At least where I live, there are probably only about 10-20 days a year where it’s so hot, so cold, storming, or there’s enough snow, that going outside is a really miserable experience.
If it’s cold, wear a coat and go out when it’s sunniest. If it’s hot, wear fewer clothes and go early or late in the day. Find a place where you like the scenery and enjoy nature. Mix it up! It’s not just about the exercise, it’s about taking a moment to notice the world around us and finding time to clear the clutter in our minds.
6. Maximize Your Time
If you really want to find small ways to live a healthier life, one way to do it is by getting creative with your time.
First, try combining daily activities with physical activities. I’m talking arm-curls while you watch TV, toe-touches while you’re in the shower, and butt clenches while you’re sitting on your ass at work.
Need to clean the house? Try speed-cleaning. Turn up the music and challenge yourself to do dishes, laundry, and dusting way faster than normal (please, don’t hurt yourself and then blame my blog).
If young children at home are an issue, like at my house, do it with them! Make family exercise time a daily requirement that you get to do together. Or, combine dinner and family time by cooking healthy meals together. I’ve found cooking together helps them be more open to trying new foods and be more appreciative about their plates.
The point is, you can give normal daily life a whole new purpose. Take your mundane tasks and add a healthy spin.
7. Make Me Time
If you don’t think your emotional/spiritual/mental health affects your physical health, then you’ve got a lot of reading to catch up on. You need Me time.
Me time is any time you spend on yourself doing things you love. Maybe it’s a bath, reading a good book, having dinner with a friend, crafting, writing or taking a nap. It’s time spent on yourself without any obligation to others. The problem with me time, especially for women, and especially-especially for mothers, is that we’re ingrained to believe it is the last priority. Our husbands are more important. Our children are more important. Dinner is more important. Work is more important. Making sure the TV is dusted, yep, more important.
As hard as it is to accept, none of that is true. Unless there’s an immediate crisis occurring in your space now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking, and in-fact demanding, me time. I would even argue that me time is most important in your life because it allows you to function at your highest level, therefore allowing you to be the best YOU, you can be, and therefore giving you the ability to take the best care of everything and everyone else in your life.
If you can’t accept that me time is most important, at least accept that it is equally important and know that you deserve it.
8. Take Your Vitamins
Taking your vitamins is the easiest habit of them all.
Food is so completely different now than it was even only thirty years ago, and not in a good way. It’s nearly a guarantee that you and I are not getting all the essential nutrients our bodies need to thrive. Do a little research and talk to your doctor about the benefits of a multivitamin (or perhaps other vitamins you may need in particular) and which one(s) is right for you.
Now, all you have to do is remember to take it. Set it on your nightstand or near your cell phone charger. Put it in your lunch box. Leave it on your desk at work or in your purse. Put it somewhere you will see it and remember to take it. If you’re a giant baby about taking large pills, go ahead and mash it up with some peanut butter, or even better, buy the adult gummies. Personally, Flintstones are still my favorite.
Getting healthy doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with one healthy habit a day, a week, or even a month if that’s what it takes. Slowly add in the other habits as you go. Approach it as a discovery process without adding any more pressure to your life. Look at your mistakes as opportunities to grow, and not as failures. If you have an open mind and a positive attitude, you’ll be feeling and looking better in no time.
Thanks for reading! Make sure you check out my Be Healthy board on Pinterest for even more ideas on making a healthy lifestyle more simple!
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