10 Simple Changes for a Healthy Lifestyle
The thought of making a big lifestyle change can be daunting, especially if you’ve given it your all before and have fallen off track. Luckily, it’s the smaller changes that often add up and create the biggest impact on our lives.
Here are 10 small changes you can make in your daily life that offer big rewards in your health and wellbeing.
1. Develop a morning ritual
I once read a book called “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod (highly recommended), and it was the first time I had ever really understood the concept of a morning ritual. I suppose I always had morning rituals, but I never pieced together the importance of them, and how to create rituals that start your day on the best foot possible.
While this might look a bit different for everyone, there are lots of different morning rituals you could commit to that would make you feel your best. Perhaps you wake up and allow yourself 10 minutes to just take in the morning before the chaos begins. Maybe you sip a glass of tea or warm lemon water to energize your body and get your digestion moving. Maybe you take some supplements or commit to a few minutes of writing down your goals. Perhaps you head out for a 30 minute walk so it’s done and out of the way for the day.
No matter how you slice it, designing and committing to a morning routine that works for YOUR life can make an incredible impact on your overall health, happiness and well-being.
2. Commit to Sunday meal prep
Speaking of rituals, have you ever heard the quote, “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content”?
Yes, there is definitely something to be said about taking an hour or two to plan your meals for the week on a Sunday. You can grab your groceries and get a bit of the grunt work out of the way before the work week begins. If you’ve got veggies washed and chopped, a few types of protein ready to rock and some healthy snacks pre-packaged for those moments when you need a little somethin’ somethin,’ you are bound to see a much higher level of success than if you just wing it.
3. Get rid of temptation
You heard me! The cheesies, the frozen boxed pizzas, the gummy worms, the ice cream. All of it! If there are temptations that will haunt you throughout the week, get rid of them. Give them away, toss them in the garbage, whatever you have to do to ensure that they aren’t going to be blocking your path to success. I know that for me, I simply can NOT have junk food in the house or I will eat it (true story!). If I want to enjoy a treat now and then, I can either a) Get in my car and go buy a treat (in which case I will only buy ONE), or b) Choose from one of the healthier yummy snacks that are at home in the cupboard anyway! Option b usually wins, especially if it’s winter outside.
4. Fill half your plate with veggies
Steam ’em, saute ’em, roast ’em, grill ’em, or eat ’em raw. No matter how you prepare them, just try ensuring that half of your plate is filled with vegetables at every meal. Not a fan of veggies with breakfast? Try adding some cauliflower rice or spinach to your smoothies and you’ll hardly notice! And lastly, to prevent mealtime boredom, try grabbing one new veggie or fresh herb you’ve never tried each week. You might even find some new favourites to add to your rotation!
5. Sweat once per day
Recently I suffered from some health issues that caused me to be unable to exercise my body the way I always had. (I had an enlarged spleen, so my options were limited.) Knowing that my need to move and stay strong at this point was crucial to my healing, I reached out to a coach friend for suggestions.
They sent me a pedometer in the mail. I thought, “Seriously?”
The truth is, you don’t have to be a crossfit pro or a marathon runner to reap the benefits of movement. You can simply put one foot in front of the other. I set a daily step goal with my coach and made it my mission to achieve it, or surpass it as often as I could. Yep, if you make it your goal to sweat once a day, even if just from a daily walk outside, you are moving in the right direction.
Water makes up a huge percentage of the human body. It helps to transport nutrients where they need to go, it helps us digest our food, it helps regulate our body temperature, it improves kidney function, and it even gives our skin a glow! If you’re not a fan of plain ol’ water, you can find countless recipes for infused waters! From grapefruit and rosemary to berries and lime, the combinations of flavours are endless! My personal favourite? Cucumber and fresh sprigs of mint. Aiming for 8-10 glasses per day is a great place to start.
7. Say no to alcohol, pop, or processed foods MORE
Sometimes people (myself included) can get overwhelmed with the idea of an “all or nothing” lifestyle. The idea of cutting out chocolate completely can make us want more chocolate than ever before because our brain switches to a scarcity mindset. That’s where the beautiful word “MORE” comes in handy. Someone once told me, “You don’t have to be a vegetarian to reap the benefits of eating lots of veggies! Why not just be MORE vegetarian?” In other words, why not just eat more veggies each day?
The same thing goes for the things you need LESS of, like alcohol, pop and processed foods. If you dread the idea of giving up your nightly glass of pinot or ginger ale, why not simply try to choose something else more often? Perhaps your nightly glass of wine become a friday night dinner tradition instead? Life isn’t about giving up the things you love and completely restricting your life. It’s about finding a healthy balance and allowing a little indulgence here and there, too.
8. Amp up your game on the weekends
Do you think of the weekend as a time to kick your feet up, take a few deep breaths and relax? While that’s definitely important, it can also be a time where your entire week of progress can be derailed. One cheat meal turns into two and two turns into, “Well I’ve already ruined my progress so I guess I’ll have to start again next week!” But what if your mindset made a flip? What if on Friday when you came home, you strived to be MORE diligent with your meal planning and prep efforts? What if you used the weekend as an opportunity to have LASER FOCUS on your goals?
Not as a punishment, but as a reward. I mean, how long have you been waiting to feel really, really good? This simple mindset switch can change EVERYTHING.
9. Turn off your phone!
Our connection to the world in this day and age has never been greater, yet our connection to ourselves has never been smaller (a whole other topic in itself!). Our smart devices have been designed to work in a similar way as a gambling machine in that we can easily fall down the rabbit hole of scrolling over and over. Suddenly an hour has passed and we can’t even remember what we were looking at in the first place! In that hour of time, our brains were firing yet our bodies were completely still.
There’s no doubt that social media has it’s essential place in the world, but being aware of how many hours per day we’re in front of a screen, be it a television, a tablet, a smartphone or a computer, can allow us the choice to set it down and get outside. Movement is an essential key to life, so try not to allow your smart devices to keep you still for too long.
10. Let there be sleep!
I’m sure that you assumed I’d tell you to aim for 8 hours per day in this post somewhere, and while that IS a great piece of advice, I want to offer a different suggestion. STOP SABOTAGING YOUR SLEEP! It’s easy to say “I never get enough sleep because I’m SO busy!” I get it – I’m a mom to a 1-year-old, a full-time employee, a college student and a business owner. Trust me – I TOTALLY get it, and I’ve said it a million times. The next thing you know, I find myself scrolling my newsfeed, binge-watching Netflix, and staying up late to try to soak up a little “me” time while everyone else is sleeping. Suddenly it’s 1am and I’ve got an alarm set for 6! Once I realized that I was self-sabotaging my essential sleep time (right around the time I got sick with the enlarged spleen), I knew I had to make a change because my health literally depended on it.
Nowadays, I have absolutely no shame in heading to bed early. I hop into my freshly made bed, jump under the covers and I know that while I might not be conscious for it, this is the best kind of “me” time I could ask for. With a good night’s sleep under my belt, I know the next day I will feel happier, more productive, more energized, and more focused.