10 Small and Easy Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle
Do you want to be healthy?
Yeah! Me too. And I have plans to be healthy, especially in the next upcoming year.
But I have something to confess.
I hate going to the gym. I hate eating healthy. I hate putting on running shoes. I also hate running.
Who actually wants to go to the gym five times a week and eat a diet of kale and chicken breasts? I mean, there are some really dedicated people who do that all the time, but is that really more than 5% of the population? (Totally just made up that statistic based on my anecdotal experience of the people in my life dedicated enough to achieve that level of discipline)
Or, let me rephrase that - who actually has time and energy to go to the gym five times a week and meal prep every Sunday for the rest of the week?
Yeah, not me.
It’s not always easy though to be healthy. If you’re living a busy life (and who among us really isn’t overscheduled and overbooked for the next two months!?!?) then you know how hard it is to stick to your diet and exercise like you should.
Take for example going to the gym - it sounds so simple in theory, but it’s majorly difficult when you have to make the conscious effort to go, take your gym bag and items with you, get changed into your gym clothes, exercise, shower and clean yourself and then put on fresh clothing…
The important thing is to not let perfect be the enemy of good enough.
So okay, maybe you didn’t completely abstain from sugar this week (because Michelle brought in donuts at work and you just had a moment of weakness) or maybe you didn’t go to the gym three times this week (you went twice but the third time your dog threw up and you had to go buy carpet cleaner) you can still be making strides towards being healthy and living a better life.
While we all love the feeling after running a couple miles or having successfully gone low-carb for two weeks, It’s important to have easy and simple wins as well. You have to start with the simple things before you get into the complicated and more difficult things - and here are ten easy ways to start being more healthy.
1. Eat more vegetables
While in keto land an on-going debate is being held about high carb and low carb vegetables. Let’s be real for a second - vegetables and plant matter are healthy. Carrots and broccoli shouldn’t be demonized for having more starch than kale and lettuce.
It’s usually the other stuff that messes it up (oh look, a pan of mac and cheese attached itself to my kale!) but the vegetables themselves are always okay to eat.
There are so many ways to get your vegetables in through salads, eating crudites, roasting or sauteeing them, cooking them into stews and soups and scrambles, even blending them into green smoothies - it doesn’t matter, so long as you’re eating more of them. Just eat your veggies!
2. Stretch for six minutes during the day
Do it! Just get up sometime during the day - especially if you’ve been seated at a desk for a long period of time - and do a quick stretching routine to balance your body out, activate your muscles, and relieve the tension and strain.
I love the following stretches
The Asian squat
Holding them each for two minutes (for a total of six minutes) really helps to stretch the muscles out and gets me feeling loose and limber. It really helps with the stiffness you get from sitting at a computer or desk all day.
3. Skip the soda
If you’re looking for a great way to feel healthier in a very easy and instant win, skip soda. It’s full of high fructose corn syrup that you need exactly 0% in your life right now.
Choose sparkling water or water with a slice of lemon or lime in it instead. I hate drinking plain water, but I can get behind sparkling water or ice-cold water with a squeeze of citrus in it.
4. Do a quick morning meditation this week
Meditation doesn’t have to be for a long time in a Buddhist temple with a gong softly sounding in the distance. I mean don’t get me wrong, that sounds great (especially right now) but not all of us can fly right now to a Buddhist temple to participate in meditation.
Instead, do a quick morning meditation. It won’t take more than a couple minutes - you can stretch it out to ten minutes if you want to - but it will be enough to get your mind cleared, yourself focused, and ready to start your day.
5. Have a cup of green tea
Between the little boost of caffeine (from the obromines and theophyllines) that gives you energy without being jittery (like coffee) the tannins with anticancer properties, the polyphenols with anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties, and the antioxidants like catechins and epigallocatechin gallate, there’s so much to love about green tea.
If you’re needing to feel a bit healthier or need to give you digestive system a little bit of a berak, a cup of green tea is the way to go.
6. Power walk for ten minutes
Running or weightlifting are great for the body - but they can take a lot of effort to do. In addition, there are many people who may not be able to run or lift weights - if you have bad knees, are recovering from an injury, or maybe are feeling self-conscious about going to the gym, it may not be an option.
That doesn’t mean the only other option is to sit on the couch! A power walk is going to be a great way to get in some great physical activity. Taking ten minutes to walk at a quick pace is enough to get your heart rate going and boost your activity level without putting strain on your joints or making a big to-do about exercising.
Best of all, you can totally power walk indoors if the weather isn’t cooperating - many gyms do have tracks where you can walk, or you can even power walk around a mall or other public place.
7. Have a piece of dark chocolate
Chocolate is really a magical food. From the anandamide (known as the “bliss” hormone) to the phenethylamine (known for triggering the release of pleasure neurotransmitters and endorphins) to the flavanols that are anti-inflammatory and heart protective, there are so many powerful nutrients in chocolate that it’s not a wonder that everyone is taking a chocolate supplement every day!
The best way I’ve found to enjoy chocolate is to either have a square or two of dark chocolate (72% cacao if you can find it) or as a hot chocolate/cocoa with healthy fats like coconut oil or heavy cream blended into a deliciously creamy and chocolate-ly drink.
8. Do a plank
I know that some people dread the idea of doing planks. The burning of the core muscles and arms and legs definitely comes to mind. I however, love doing planks - it does something wonderful for my body, and really helps with the upper back tension that I usually have.
I assure you that planks are some of the best exercises you can do for your core. Especially if you have shoulder or neck or back pain from sitting at a computer (or looking at your phone, or slumping in your chair) a plank is going to do wonders for helping you strengthen your core and feel better.
I can do a two minute plank easily, but if your core isn’t as strong, try smaller intervals. See if you can do a thirty second plank. Or if you can’t do that, aim for fifteen seconds. It gets easier as you build up your core muscles, I promise!
The best part about a plank is that it doesn’t require you to get sweaty or put on special clothes - you can do it at work, at home, even if you’re out and there is a nice patch of grass somewhere like in a park. Hold it for a short period of time, and you’re good to go!
9. Have some ginger
Ginger is really trending now. Despite being a hideously ugly looking rhizome, it has tremendous health benefits - everything from anticancer to anti-iflammatory properties to improving digestion to soothing achy joints.
I enjoy ginger by cooking with it - added to salad dressing, into soups and stir fries is the usual culprit. I’ll also enjoy it in ginger tea and ginger water as well to get my fill of those healthy gingerols.
10. Get good sleep
For at least one week, commit yourself to making a conscious effort to get better sleep. Whether that’s reworking your schedule to get to bed earlier, turning off your phone, or taking a bath before bed, find a way to make your sleep game on point.
Good sleep is so important - probably the most important thing you can do for your health, whether that’s for longevity, physical recovery, losing weight, or better mental focus - so it’s worth it to invest in your sleep health.
So there you go. Easy and simple steps to a healthier and better you. Most of these things are things you’re already doing or can do in a few minutes. Being healthy shouldn’t be so hard, and these are things that literally anyone can do to be healthier.
I hope that this helps you be healthier!