Start small. This is the advice I tell everyone who asks me how to live healthier. If you haven't been exercising or you are wondering why so many people are meditating or you want to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat on a daily basis, it is going to be tough to make meaningful change in 1 week or less. Yet that is the pressure we put on ourselves. If after a week, we haven't achieved all the goals we set up for ourselves, we think we can never do it and we just stop.
This is the worst thing we can do when working on making meaningful change in our lives. Expecting in one week, we will be perfect and all of our health habits will be perfect is unrealistic. It takes 21 days to make a new habit, good or bad. That means we simply need to be consistent on what change we are making and 21 days later, it is just part of our life.
When making the change, I find it easiest to schedule the change. I put the new habit I am working on in a place where I can see if daily. That may mean my electronic calendar, a sticky note on the bathroom mirror or on the refrigerator, or a reminder on my phone. Where ever I know I will see the activity daily. Now, this doesn't mean I am doing it daily. Life happens! But if I remind myself, then I am more likely to do it.
As I mentioned, I may not do the new habit daily. For the first week, I will try to make the change 3 days out of the week. If I do more, that is really a great motivator to keep going. But see how low stress that goal is? Who can't do something new 3 out of 7 days in a week? Then in week two, I up the goal to 4 days. See how starting small can help you build a new habit? Plus, it sets you up for success which is super motivating to keep going.
Now that I've explained how to start implementing new habits into your routine successfully, let's get to the 14 small habits that will make you healthier.
#1 Drink Half Your Weight in Ounces of Water DAILY
You read that right! We are dehydrated, always. Very few of us drink enough water. The benefits of drinking more water are substantial. Weight loss, better brain function, joint lubrication, detox's the body, maintains blood pressure and so much more. Click here for an article from Medical News Today to learn more. Make sure you are drinking filtered water. The best filtration is from reverse osmosis, carbon filters and distillation.
#2 Move Your Body Everyday
Moving your body does not mean you have to join an expensive gym. There are plenty of free resources that can accommodate your fitness level and schedule. YouTube has plenty of workout classes for free. You can go for a bike ride. You can go for a walk. Your goal should be 30 minutes as many days as you can. Make sure to check with your doctor if you haven't been exercising in a while.
#3 Eat More Vegetables and Fruits
Did you know the average American only eats 10-15 grams of fiber per day? That is not enough to keep our bodies healthy. Fiber is important for detoxing the body and promoting cellular health. The easiest way to get more fiber in your day is to carry fruits and vegetables as snacks. Another easy idea is to replace a rice, pasta or potato side dish for dinner with another vegetable. Make sure to drink enough water! When increasing fiber intake, we have to drink more water to keep the fiber moving.
#4 Start a Breathing Practice
You may feel anxious about doing this at first, but just like everything else, when you do it regularly, it will become easier. First, find a place in your house that is your go-to place for breathing. That way, you have a spot to use regularly. Use a timer. My breathing area is near the kitchen, so I use the microwave timer. You can also set your cell phone alarm.
Start with 5 minutes. Remember, starting small helps you be successful. Don't worry if thoughts come into your mind. It is OK. Especially when first starting this routine. Just recognize them and let them go. Use deep belly breathing. That means when you breathe in, your belly expands. When you breath out, it deflates. This is the opposite of how we are taught to breathe. So it will feel odd at first. If needed, use a guided meditation for free. There are plenty of Podcasts and YouTube videos that are free.
#5 Go Outside
We are trapped for a lot of our lives in office buildings, in the house, in school or in the car. Getting outside and seeing nature is calming, reduces stress and makes us happier. A good time to get outdoors is at our lunchtime. This means you have to be a little strict about stopping work and going outside. It is not easy, but you are making a commitment to yourself for better health. Will that big project really be impacted by you walking away from the desk for just 30 minutes?
#6 Laugh, Often
Laughter is really great medicine for all that ails us. Laughter reduces stress, works your abs, releases endorphins, promotes a sense of general well-being and lowers blood pressure. If you aren't around someone funny, go to YouTube. I always find ridiculous videos that make me laugh!
#7 Eat Less Meat
We don't need to eat meat at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are plenty of vegetables and legumes that provide protein. A great breakfast protein meal is a smoothie. Stock frozen fruits and veggies so you can make a smoothie whenever you like. Add a scoop of protein powder. You'll get more fiber (see #3) and protein to keep you full at the start of the day. You may even want to try a full day of not eating meat. It is really easy to do. I have some great blog posts with vegetarian recipes for dinner that even meat-eaters will love.
I hope the 7 small steps that will make you healthier sparked some ideas on what you can start doing to live healthier.
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