On this journey to achieving health & happiness, I always want to be honest with you. Let me begin by honestly admitting that this blog won’t always be a constant source of motivation and positivity that will instantly inspire you to throw out your junk food, stock up on organic meats and produce, and make you enjoy kicking your ass at early morning workouts. Because, honestly, it’s not that easy. It’s one thing to say it’s easy, but anyone who’s tried drastically altering their lifestyle knows that it isn’t true. Especially not for people like me who love chocolate and wine and sleeping in late and could spend an entire day on the couch watching every episode of Friends back-to-back without feeling the urge to hit the gym. Honestly.
In my experience, living a fit life can be hard. It takes time and effort and sacrifice and commitment and patience. It can be hard to take the time on the weekend to plan, shop for and prep your meals for the week. It can be hard to push yourself during your daily workout when all you want to do is sleep, and it can be hard to choose cardio power hour over happy hour at the end of a grueling week. And it can be really hard to stick with it when you’ve been working so hard and still aren’t seeing the results you want. It’s hard to stay focused and sometimes, trying really sucks. I know this. All I’m saying is that it’s worth it. With the right mindset and motivation, it can get easier.
If you get only one (or 3) thing(s) out this blog, let it be that 1) you’re not alone, 2) that you don’t have to be perfect, and 3) that living a fit life – as annoying and inconvenient as it may sometimes be – is entirely worth the hassle. Honestly.
And here’s some extra good news: getting started may be easier than you think. It’s tempting (and seriously daunting) to look at everything you should be doing better to live healthier. But trying to focus on too many things at once will psych you out and make it harder for you to stick to healthier habits. Instead, start by focusing on just one thing to improve your health and try to be good about it for a month. Eventually it will become second-nature, and you can pick another thing to work on. Before you know it, these healthy habits will add up to a healthier you.
Here are 6 easy things that you can start doing today to help you begin to live a healthier lifestyle:
- Drink more water (and less of anything else) – the general recommendation is that you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day (2 liters or half a gallon). If you’re not doing that, step it up! Already getting your daily 8? Try to drink even more. Not only does water keep you hydrated and can help suppress your appetite, it’s the only thing you need to be drinking. Soda, coffee, juice, and energy drinks are totally unnecessary. Water is where it’s at.
- Eat more often – I don’t mean snack on chips and candy all day long. But eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day will stabilize your blood sugar levels and boost your metabolism. In addition to proper breakfast, lunch and dinner, try to include two snacks made up of fats, carbs, and protein (specific percentages of each depends on your personal fitness goals. Learn more here.) Some of my favorites are baby carrots + string cheese, or apple + almond butter, or hard-boiled egg +tomato slice on ½ an English muffin, or greek yogurt + fresh fruit.
- Stand up – I work a desk job and spend most of my day on my butt either at my desk or on my commute. As often as I can, I stand up. In meetings, on the phone, or walking to and from the bathroom (which happens a lot when you’re drinking enough water!). In general, just being mindful of how much time you spend standing vs. sitting, and taking every opportunity to move a little bit. Maybe go for walk during lunch, go for a walk during a one-on-one meeting, stand up when you take a phone call.
- Cook more – Let’s say you eat 3 square meals a day (plus 2 snacks per day). That means you’re eating 21 meals per week. Try to actually make (as in, in your kitchen, with your own hands) 10 of those meals. You may not realize how often you go out or grab take out or order in. Making meals yourself gives you more control over what and how much you’re eating. Your wallet will thank you.
- Make yourself (and your health) a priority – Whether it’s working out, focusing on your nutrition, getting more sleep, or meditating and reducing stress, make one thing that will improve your health a priority in your daily life. Schedule time for it everyday, write in your calendar, and hold yourself to it. With everything you do for others all day, all week, all year long, dedicate 30 minutes to 1 hour to yourself and your health every day. It may feel like you’re being selfish, but you can’t expect to give the best of yourself to others when you give yourself nothing in return. Investing daily time in your own well-being will re-energize you to give your very best to others. Make the time for it: set your alarm 30 minutes early to make yourself a good breakfast, or dedicate your lunch break to a workout or meditation, or watch one less episode during your evening Netflix binge to go to sleep a little earlier. Just 30 to 60 minutes each day for yourself, and others around will you reap the benefits as well.
- Write it down – Holding yourself accountable is one of the hardest parts of making a true lifestyle change. The easiest way to really be 100% honest with yourself is write everything down. What you eat, when you sleep, what you do during your workout, and how you feel on a day-to-day basis. Most of the time, you don’t realize where your nutrition needs to be tweaked until you see your diet in writing. Or you don’t notice the progress you’ve been making in your workouts until you see how much longer you’re able to run today than you were 3 weeks ago. Do yourself a favor and write everything down as a means to track your progress, and see what’s working for you and what’s not. It allows you to read between the lines of your “Before” and “After” pictures – it will give you a better idea of how daily activity and eating well has an impact on your mood, your energy level, and your general physical health and well-being.
Remember, everything in moderation – and sometimes that includes change. Don’t try to change too much about your lifestyle too fast. Setting the bar too high right off the bat makes it more likely that when you fall off track on one of those things, everything else will follow. Instead, take baby steps and focus on one thing at a time. You may slip up a few times, but just let it go and get back on it. Like I said, it’s not easy. But it’s easier than you may think.