Monday, October 10, 2011

7 Baby Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle


Many of us have the desire to lead healthier lifestyles and just don't know where to start. The idea of a lifestyle overhaul can be extremely daunting. But you have to start somewhere. What is more important than your health, really? It's a matter of making it a priority. Below are a few small changes that I've made to get me on the right track. Maybe some of these will be helpful to you too. Baby steps can give you the confidence to eventually take bigger, bolder steps to get you where you want to be.

Instead of cutting out sweets; treat yourself to one small sweet a day.

I have a major sweet tooth i.e. sugar addiction. One day, I realized this and decided that I need to give up sugar completely. Um, yeah, so that worked for about a day and then I totally binged on a whole sleeve of chocolate chip cookies. There are always temptations around, so I'm learning to have one small piece of yumminess a day and keep it moving. I try to satisfy my urge for sweets with fruit and yogurt. Any other ideas?

Get by with six or seven hours of sleep during the week.

My doctor tells me that everyone is different and may not necessarily require 8 hours of sleep every night to function at their best. Personally, I find that between 6 - 7 hours a night gets it done for me during the week. Anything less than that, and I'm struggling. It's hard for me to go to bed at night. Not because I'm not tired but because I always try to squeeze too much into my precious evening time. It's not always easy, but I make every effort to get myself in bed early enough to allow for 6 - 7 hours of sleep. I also make a point to get as much rest in as possible on weekends.

Does everything need to be organic?

I don't know about you, but I cannot afford an all organic diet. Nor do I think it's necessary, really. Who knows, my opinion on that may change one day. For now, I try to buy primarily organic fruits and veggies. Produce has the potential to carry the heaviest exposure to pesticides, so where we can afford it, I opt for organic. What do you think? If you're all organic, all the time, what are your reasons?

Eat a fruit or veggie with every meal.

Most of us know that we should get 5 fruits or veggies in a day. If you include one with each of your three meals, you're almost all the way there. Throw some veggies on your sandwich and opt for carrots instead of chips. Have some fruit with breakfast. Pull out the blender and mix up your own smoothies. Or, if you're "too busy" like me, then you can buy fruit and veggie smoothies from the grocery store like ones by Odwalla and Bolthouse Farms.

See your doctor at least every other year.

Sometimes we have misperceptions about our health simply from not going to the doctor. Some of us are afraid to go. While I understand the feeling, the only way to get rid of this anxiety is to go. I feel most comfortable seeing my gynecologist once a year and my primary care doctor every other year. Depending on your age and health status, you may need to go more or less, but you should stick to a schedule. Keeping these appointments will ward off some of the worries we create in our minds from simply avoiding our standard check ups.

Breathe and Stretch.

The benefits of yoga and meditation are a sense of balance and connection between mind, body and spirit. But these practices take awhile to master. Why we always think we have to be a master before we can try something, I don't know. Why not start by practicing deep breathing and stretching a couple times a day? Perhaps in the morning and at night. Even throughout the day, when I feel anxiety, anger or frustration building up, I practice deep breathing and it calms me down. Stretching first thing in the morning is a great way to gradually wake up your body. Think about your intentions for the day and program your mind to stay positive. Once you start doing this on a regular basis, it will be easier to branch out and incorporate more structured practices.

30 minutes of activity - 3 times a week.

You just have to get moving. It's just that simple. When you have the option to walk, walk. When you have the option to take the steps, do it. These are small choices that we can make that can get us on the right track. You don't have to get your exercise in the gym, necessarily. Maybe you can take a dance class or join a running group. Any type of physical activity that you can add to your life will have a positive impact on your health.

What other tips can you add? I'm always looking for more ways to lead a healthier lifestyle without turning my whole world upside down overnight.  Share your experiences with me.


Alexis said...

I totally agree with your way of doing things. That's how I'm able to stick to certain things as well. As far as the sweet tooth, I'm right with you on that one. One other substitute I have is snacking on trail mix. It is so delicious and healthy, and the dried fruit has that sweetness you crave! I definitely have to exercise portion control with it. lol

Kim Jackson said...

In response to your question about being "all organic all the time": I would say I am all organic 95% of the time. If my budget is particularly tight that month (let's just keep it real--that stuff gets expensive), or if there isn't an organic option then I'm fine with making an alternative choice. My reason for doing so is solely related to my personal health. I have health issues/concerns in that my body is just very sensitive to everything I eat so I have to constantly monitor what I'm taking in to avoid getting sick. Organic foods have less chemicals, and they're easier to digest the closer they are to their natural state. With regards to produce--if I can't get organic, I try to get items that are locally grown; again less chemicals used because they don't have to worry about preserving the foods for transport.

With all that said, I don't think making all organic choices has to be the option for everyone. Do what you find works for your body. Especially if, as the post indicates, you're just taking baby steps to changing your overall health.

Great tips, love.

Nicole Amanda said...

I love this!! It's so effortlessly on point. Makes me feel like a healthier lifestyle is actually attainable. Lol! Kudos!

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