How can you begin to live a healthy lifestyle? It may seem like a good idea to all of us but the thought of putting it into practice might feel insurmountable. You have no time because your work is demanding. You have kids to parent and drive around town. You have no extra money to spend on expensive, healthier foods. It’s true, you have a lot to battle just to start your journey on the road to a healthier you.
So, as the days slowly go by, you slide further and further away from the person you would like to be. A healthy, energetic, and kind individual. (I threw in the kind part, and you’re welcome!)
Well, I have two words for you: Just start.
Start by doing simple things. Little things added together begin to show change. Stringing one good decision after another and another adds up over time. Days and days of good decisions begin to stop the negative momentum and start the process of making the changes you want to see. Here are three things you can do to start right now.
Get more sleep.
You might argue that you don’t have enough minutes in the day. We all feel this way at one stage in life or another. Your household has two working adults, three kids, a dog, two fish and someone left the hamster cage open! Yes, I get it! We are busy. So, how can you possibly add more to your day when you don’t have any time to give? It's about prioritizing and protecting what is good for your well-being.
Get more sleep
I would argue that if you DID get one more hour of sleep, you would be able to handle your day much more efficiently. You would be sharper on your computer, in meetings, and in your interactions with people at work and at home. You would be able to solve problems better and tolerate things better when family is in the dreaded meltdown mode. One more hour of shuteye allows your brain to fire on all cylinders throughout your day instead of sputtering around the track and barely making it to the daily finish line.
Drop two things from your daily food intake that you know are bad for you and add one or two things that are healthier. It might be that morning latte that is filled with cream and sweet stuff (note: sugar means empty calories). It could be that daily soda or energy drink. It might be that afternoon cookie or candy you crave. Or, that bowl of cereal or ice cream you like to have in the evening.
Drop it. Don’t question it. Don’t try to justify it. Just drop it.
I didn’t say you had to drop everything, just a few things you know aren’t helping the bottom line... or the waist line! Next, add a few items that you know are better for your body. Eat a fresh salad at lunch instead of that fried food, that loaded sandwich or the burrito with sour cream. Instead of french fries, order a salad or a side of veggies. It’s got to hurt a little to make some change happen, but you don’t have to turn your world upside down and stop it all at once. Simply start by removing a few things that you know are not helping and add a few things that will.
Move your body daily. Too often one of the first things to go from our wish list of things to do each day is our workout time. We think we can just swipe that time to get this work issue rectified or run that errand and plan to find time later in the day for that workout - which we don’t and then we lose our chance to move our body that day.
I was working at Subway as a teenager years ago (yes, a former sandwich artist!) and asked a very fit customer how he got so muscular? What did he do to build up his physique and how did he find the time? He said, most people go to bed thinking, “Tomorrow I will work out”. Sounds familiar right? Well, he continued, it's the people who say they are going to work out tomorrow and actually know what time they are going to do it who are the most successful. I have always remembered that conversation and I immediately began to plan what time in my day I was going to exercise. It’s not enough to just say you will workout or exercise. You have to make it such a priority that you set an appointment for your fitness. If not, you are back to trying to squeeze it into your day. Make exercise a part of your day that is non-negotiable. It’s like a doctor’s appointment that you can’t miss it. Go to bed not only thinking you will work out, but set the time for when you will be exercising and plan your day around it.
The road to healthy habits might be as simple as going to bed a bit earlier, dropping two food items that no longer serve you while adding two things that do, and making a daily exercise appointment with yourself. Give these three changes a try. I assure you, they will help move your health to a higher level.