If you want to live healthier, you should know that big grandiose changes rarely stick. The best way to make lasting change is by making a series of small changes in the areas that matter most. Watch my video on Habit Change for more information on this.
The Top 5 Healthy Habits
1) Eat More Vegetables
2) Get Exercise Everyday
3) Sleep Well
4) Stay Hydrated
5) Meditation/Stress Reduction
New and healthy habits don’t need to be big. In fact, you are more likely to find success in making small changes vs trying to make larger changes. Each time you make a small change and stick with it, you prove to yourself that you can do it and you prove to yourself that you are a healthy person.
I invite you to choose 1 small change to make in your daily lifestyle. Pick one, see how it goes, then add more later. But for now, just do one thing.
1) Eating More Vegetables (find more inspiration here)
Serve 2 vegetables with dinner (make half your plate veggies).
Make vegetable forward meatless meals 1 night a week.
Have veggies with breakfast (veggie quiche or a small salad topped with an over-easy egg).
Eat a vegetable soup for lunch.
Have a V8 for a snack.
2) Get Exercise Every Day
Start your day with 4 sun salutations or 10 jumping jacks.
Walk for 10 minutes at lunch.
Go the distance (make a rule to always park far away or use the farthest bathroom).
While watching TV, do crunches during commercial breaks or in-between episodes.
Take a short walk after dinner.
3) Sleep Well
Catch up. If you have been sleep-deprived, take a week of going to bed super early until you feel rested and can figure out how much sleep you really need.
Get ready for bed super early so that when you start to feel tired you can go straight to bed.
Be in bed by 10pm. If you’re a night owl, slowly shift your bedtime 10-15 minutes earlier every few days.
Journal before bed. If thoughts keep you up, writing them down can clear your mind for rest. Keep the journal by your bed and write in it if you wake up with thoughts you can’t get rid of.
Set the mood. Make your bedroom inviting. Scent your pillow with lavender.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This could be a bath, yoga practice or simply drinking a mug of hot water to relax.
4) Stay Hydrated
Start your day with 16 oz of water. (I take this to bed with me and drink it as soon as I wake up)
Sip on warm, non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.
Fill a large water bottle and drink the contents between breakfast and lunch. Repeat between lunch and dinner.
Eat brothy soups.
5) Meditate/Reduce Stress
Start a meditation practice. Begin with just a minute or two of sitting quietly and focusing on the sensations you feel in your body. New to meditation? Check out this video.
Use meditation in the moment. Simply close your eyes and watch the movement the breath brings to your body. Count 5 breaths, then let it go, open your eyes, return to the day. Do this as often as needed.
Journal. Getting your thoughts out of your head can reduce stress. You can also do a gratitude journal, in which everyday you write about what you are grateful for. Gratitude is a great remedy for stress.
Be in nature. Focus on the sights, sounds and smells. Let go of stressful thoughts and be present, even if just for a few minutes.
Watch This YouTube Short
I find that the more you incorporate healthy behaviors into your life, the less you want the bad ones. For example, when you eat more vegetables, you tend to eat fewer undesirable foods (like fatty proteins or cheap carbs). When you are exercising a lot, you are less likely to want to smoke.
However, if you are actively trying to give up a bad habit like smoking or drinking alcohol, the same ideas apply. Cold turkey doesn’t work for most people (yes, there are exceptions). Start by decreasing a little bit daily. Identify one situation in which you used to partake in the habit and choose something else. For example, if you normally smoke when you drive, start a no smoking in the car rule. If you often have wine at book club, bring ingredients for a fancy mocktail instead. Then, slowly add situations in which you avoid the activity; this will slowly decrease the amount you are doing it until you get to the point where you feel you can let it go. I’m not saying it will be easy, but changing slowly is usually much less painful.
Once you feel like you have a handle on these 5 healthy habits, what next? You know you best, but for many people some next steps might be…
1) More fruit in your diet
2) Declutter your home
3) Eat less animal protein
4) Try herbal remedies like this one
5) Spend more time with family
You don’t have to wait until the New Year, your birthday or even the start of a new week. Pick one small thing that sounds good to you and start today. Then, just keep at it, adding a little something new every week or so. A year from now, you will thank yourself!