You’ve decided to be healthier, now what? Obviously you need to totally overhaul your life and daily routine, because what you have been doing isn’t working. But changing everything seems like a huge and daunting task and you’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you’ll start next week… Sound familiar? This is a really common problem. People want to be healthier but they get stuck on the getting started part. It feels like their whole life has to change and that is a lot of hard work. So how do you get started? Small. Yup. Start really, really small. That might seem counterintuitive to being healthier, but it is actually a lot more successful than you might think. When you change small things in your life over a longer period of time you have a higher chance of actually sticking with those changes. What are some small changes you can make to be healthier? I’m glad you asked! Here is a list of ideas on little changes you can make to your eating, exercising, and daily life that will help you on the road to being healthier!
- Eat out less. Do eat out more than three times a week? Are you always getting fast food for your lunch? Try cutting back just a little. If you eat out four times a week, cut down to three. If you are always buying your lunch, try making and bringing your own just a few days a week. By making just a small change you will be saving not only calories, but money as well. Plus you will be able to control exactly what you eat when you make it.
- Eat slower. Many of us are really busy and tend to eat either really fast or on the go. This tends to make us eat more because our body isn’t really registering that we’re eating a meal. Try and slow down when you’re eating. Really taste the food, take small bites, and enjoy the meal. The slower you eat the chances are greater that you will feel fuller sooner. This little trick can help you stop eating more food than you need.
- Eat less. Try eating a smaller portion of food. If you normally make and eat a big pot of spaghetti, try eating half and saving the other half for lunch the next day. You don’t have to do this for every meal, just start with one and then keep adding more meals. You’ll eat less and be able to have leftovers for lunches and dinners during the week
- Make one healthy swap. If you normally eat white rice, try brown rice or quinoa. If you usually eat white bread, try whole grain. If you usually eat flavored yogurt, try plain greek yogurt with cut up fruit. Try a lettuce wrap instead of sandwich bread or adding an extra serving of vegetables. Little food swaps like this can save you calories and get you used to eating better quality food. Again, you don’t have to change everything you eat. Start slowly and over time change more and more things.
- Add a glass of water. Try drinking one more glass of water than you normally do each day. Switch one of your sodas/juices/lattes with a glass of water. Water is super important and most of us could be better at drinking more.
- Keep a food journal for one day. You don’t have to obsessively write down everything you eat every single day, but pick a day and write what goes in your mouth that day. At the end of the day, see what you’ve eaten. Having it all in front of you can help you see where you need to improve your eating habits. Maybe you snack way too much in the afternoon because you don’t have enough to eat for lunch.
- Walk. If you have never exercised or haven’t exercised in a very long time, walking is a great place to start. Add just 10 minutes of walking to your day and work your way up from there. Once you’re able to walk for a good distance, start adding other exercises. Maybe jog for a few minutes or do some crunches. Keep building from there and soon you will have a pretty decent workout routine.
- Move more in general. Little things can really add up throughout the day. Park your car farther away from the building. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Walk over and talk to your co-workers instead of sending them an email. Maybe you can’t fit in a 30 minute workout everyday, but you can move more and every little thing helps
- Enlist a buddy. Find a friend to take walks with you or try a new class together. Having someone else to keep you accountable makes working out more of a priority and can make it more fun.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is really important for good health. It is when your body is able to shut down and recover from the day. Muscles are repaired during sleep along with other tissues and brain functions. Try going to sleep a little bit earlier at night, even just fifteen minutes can make a big difference.
- Stop negative talk. Talking bad about yourself will get you nowhere fast. Putting yourself down won’t make you healthier, it will just beat you down. Try saying one good thing about yourself everyday. Yes, you might feel silly at first but it can really have a positive effect on your mind and attitude.
- Limit TV time. If you normally spend your entire evening in front of the boob tube, try and cut down. Instead of four hours of TV a night, try two and go read a book, exercise, mediate, take a bath, anything but sitting on the couch. I get that watching TV is a relaxing and brainless activity many people enjoy after a long day, but there are better more productive things you can do that will help you unwind even better.
All these things might seem like insignificant ideas that won’t amount to much. But doing a lot of little things like this will add up over time. As you start to get used to each new habit, add in another and then another. Soon you will realize that you have changed all of your unhealthy habits for healthier ones and that it seemed like you did so without much effort. You can’t just magically get healthier overnight, it takes time and dedication. Start small, go slow, and you will get there before you know it!