I’m currently watching a blustery snowfall this morning, while just last night I was staring up at a 50 degree cotton candy sky. Welcome to New England.
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Now that it’s February (!!) the threat of long gone resolutions is creeping around the corner, putting your $300 juicer and collection of Jillian Michaels workout DVDs on the chopping block.
And quite frankly, that’s quite alright with me. I never set any weight loss goals for the new year, but rather more mindfulness activities like journaling each night, practicing yoga at least once a week, or actually chewing my food rather than inhaling it.
What I do believe in, is making small changes over time, for the rest of time. By focusing on one small aspect of your life that you can improve upon at a time, it makes the overall goal of better health all the more achievable in the long-run. And that’s where it really matters.
So I’m sharing some of my favorite small changes you can make to add up to one lean, mean, healthy lifestyle machine!
Make Sleep a Priority
I can’t say enough good things about sleep, yet it’s one of things I see get under-minded the most when it comes to good health. Without enough sleep comes a cascade of less than stellar health consequences. You can’t think as clearly. You don’t have the energy to crush your workouts. You end up more hungry, and for the wrong kinds of foods.
Tip: Commit to being in bed 30 minutes earlier than you usually do. Set an alarm to help you remember, and power down from electronics to help prepare you for sleep. A cup of herbal tea, and a good book are my secret weapons to a solid 8-9 hours of slumber each night.
Especially in the air-hurts-your-face kinda weather, it’s easy to stay shacked up inside with you, yourself, and seasons 1-6 of the office all winter. (not that I know from personal experience or anything..)
Tip: Get some person to person time each day. Whether it’s sitting down to lunch with your co-workers, getting coffee with a friend, or chit chatting with Mom for 10 minutes.
Added bonus: 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 even I struggle on doing daily, but even just one meal a day can make a small but big difference. Eating without distractions allows you to enjoy your food more, and avoid mindlessly eating while you are glued to the cliffhangers of Making a Murderer.
Tip: Enlist the help of those you live with. Make it a date to eat dinner together…AT THE TABLE. Step away from your work desk, and eat your lunch away from your computer screen.
Live alone? Set the mood yo self! Make your dinner plate look like something you actually want to dive into, instead of food on a plate. Light a candle. Put on some Michael Buble. Tell yourself how breathtaking you look tonight in your Alumni hoodie and 3 day old leggings. You worth it.
Easier said than done, right? With the non-stop society we live in today, taking time to relax seems like it comes at a premium. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!
Tip: Take just 5 minutes to sit down, breathe, and not worry about squat. Just forget it all. Believe me, life will go on in that time-span. Feeling even more adventurous? Give your body a big ol’ stretch. We’re talking cat like, full body, in it to win it stretch. You’ll come out feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle that killer game of Candy Crush…or work project or something.
Sounds counter-intuitive right? I talked about this in my post about how to stay active throughout the day, but it seems like efficiency is the way to be nowadays, when it comes to making small changes to a healthier life, inefficiency is key.
Tip: Park far away when out shopping or at work. Take several trips to take the groceries in. Walk to a co-workers office instead of emailing. These small changes can easily add up some daily steps without you actually even noticing.
Write it Out
When in doubt, write it out! Whether it’s thoughts, feelings, or food, writing something down can help take it off your mind, and avoid the added stress.
Tip: If something is really bothering you, write it down on paper. Everything you’re feeling, as hurtful or hateful as it may be. Then destroy it. Shred it, burn it, flush it down the toilet. The whole act itself is gratifying, and helps take the added stress and weight of whatever is bothering you out of your mind.
When it comes to eating healthy, preparation is key. Each week, set aside 10 minutes to write down the meals for the week, the groceries you need for them, and what foods you can prepare ahead of time. This will end up saving you so much time during the week, and make sure you are set up for success when it comes to eating right each day.
Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro at this whole eating healthy thing, reading labels is a must. No matter what life changing, too-good-to-be-true mantras are spelled out on the front of that shiny and glowing of health package a food is in, flip it over to see it’s true colors.
Tip: Look at the ingredients list to any and every food you buy that comes in a package. You’d be surprised how many straightforward foods (like roasted nuts, pickles, canned vegetables) are secretly loaded with preservatives, trans fats, and sugars. My rule of thumb, if you can’t recognize it, neither can your body.
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Swap Out One Drink for Water
You’re always hearing, drink more water. 8 glasses a day. Half your body weight in ounces. With a new water recommendation every day, it can easily become overwhelming to know how much flippin water you’re actually supposed to be drinking.
Tip: While I recommend most of your daily drinks to be water, start by swapping just one drink a day for water. Try changing that extra morning cup of coffee for warm water with lemon, or your afternoon soda for a 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
We all have our vices. Extra salty potato chips. A bar of rich, velvety chocolate, or in my case, peanut butter. It’s so easy to overindulge and mindlessly eat these foods when they are at your disposal, but keeping them out of site, can help keep them out of mind.
Tip: Keep those “trigger” foods either out of your house, or somewhere hard to reach or see. If you truly have a craving for it, honor it, but eat it with intention and enjoy every bite.
Give Yourself Credit
You are in fact an awesome being. Making the simple step to want to better your health is exponentially 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 road blocks 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.
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