You might have noticed that many people say they want to develop healthy lifestyle habits or get into practicing those healthy daily habits we all know we should practice, but it’s a rare person who does. Every adult knows they need to eat healthy, get exercise, stop smoking, etc., but we quit after a few weeks. Want to know why?
We all know someone who has done this. We might even be guilty of this ourselves. Maybe we buy a gym membership, expensive new running shoes, a new gym bag, and clothes, maybe one of those fancy health monitoring watches. Then we buy books on nutrition, sign up for those healthy meal home delivery services, start a line of credit at GNC (those supplements aren’t cheap!), and a fancy juicer so we can make our own green juices.
We swear to lose weight, get in shape, get 6-pack abs, read more, look at social media less, swear off those late-night Netflix marathons and make a vow to never, ever eat sugar again.
That all goes right down the drain within 6 months’ time. Why is that? Why do people do this?
It all comes down to change. We want to change everything at one time and we want it NOW. When humans try to change too many things at one time, it usually results in nothing being changed.
Don’t Go All Out
If you could sit back and look at your life, see it in a straight line, you would see how you developed unhealthy habits over decades. Let’s face it, no one is born drinking beer, eating potato chips, and watching Breaking Bad until 3 AM.
So why do we expect that we can undo everything at one time?
You picked up these habits one at a time and that’s how you will need to break them.
Of course, you can do all the things mentioned above. You can improve your mind, exercise more, be on social media less, lose weight, even have those 6-pack abs. You just can’t have them all at once.
Start off making a few small changes. It doesn’t matter where you start, just don’t try to do everything at once.
If you decide that dropping 10 pounds is your biggest wish right now, then begin making small changes in that area. Stop drinking sodas and eating after 6 PM this week. Next week, start eating a big salad with lunch and dinner. The week after that, maybe you should try walking for 30 minutes 5 days each week.
See how this works? Keep adding small changes you can stick with. Small changes add up to big results.
We want to help you get started by making a list of 10 good healthy habit ideas you may not have thought of. Anchorage can be a difficult place to live a healthy lifestyle, but by making small changes over time, you can surprise even yourself!
10 Rarely Practiced Healthy Lifestyle Habits
1) Eat One Really Healthy Meal Each Day
No matter how well we might plan something out, life happens. You can plan to make that healthy egg-white omelet with whole grain toast when you find that your car has a flat tire. So, you change the tire, and to avoid being late, hit the drive-through. This doesn’t mean your entire day is shot, however. You can get right back on the healthy bandwagon. Plan on a super healthy lunch or dinner. No matter what happens during your day, if you eat at least one super healthy meal, you’ve made a great start!
2) Have Fun with a Physical Challenge
Most of us would love to hit the gym for an hour or two 6 days a week but who has time for that? Even gym rats say they get bored with the same old workout routine. Not having time or being bored doesn’t mean you can’t get in some fun exercise! Once a week, pick something challenging and fun. Skip the gym and your treadmill. We are talking fun and interesting. Take a 5-mile walk to your friend’s house. Ride 15 miles on your bike to a coffee shop or point of interest. Take a 2-hour hike to see something different. This will not only challenge your body, but it gives your mind a much-needed change of scenery.
3) Drink Water Before Every Meal
This sounds like an old-fashioned piece of advice, but that doesn’t make it any less true! Drink one 8-ounce glass of water 20 minutes or so before every single meal. You will get in some hydration and you might feel full enough to pass on that second helping.
4) Be Proactive about Your Health
Being healthy means more than just exercising and eating right! No matter how healthy someone might look on the outside, there are processes going on inside that can’t be seen without testing and imaging. So, don’t be a slacker about getting flu vaccinations, yearly health checkups, doing any other tests your doctor might recommend (like mammograms or prostate screening), see your chiropractor, get your vision checked, and see the dentist at least once a year to ensure that your good health stays that way!
5) Get Your Sleep
Right now, your mind is saying “YES! More SLEEP!” but we know what goes on in real life. Busy schedules, late-night meetings, that email from your mom that has you worried enough to call her, all those little things that can interrupt your sleep pattern. While you can’t do anything about mom, you can stop looking at social media, shopping on Amazon and watching the next Orange is the New Black season. Make changes to ensure that you get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, minimum. Allowing the body to rest is every bit as important as eating right and exercising.
6) Let Yourself Go Crazy
Not literally, of course, but give yourself permission to eat as many fruits and vegetables you want. Seriously, go all out! It is far better to eat 600 calories of fresh fruit than a super-sized soda. Eat fresh fruits, not juice. The fiber will make a huge difference in how your body deals with the fructose and calories. You will never hear a doctor say, “You need to cut back on those apples.”
7) Put Snacks in Front
Everyone knows that if that bag of potato chips is right in front of you, you will just keep eating them. Put it out of arm’s reach, and people eat less. So, put healthy snacks (nuts, seeds, cut up veggies, yogurt, chunks of cheese) in a bowl right next to you or right in the front part of the fridge. Move less healthy stuff to high shelves or behind other items so you don’t see them right off or you must work to get to them.
8) Keep Healthy Snacks with You
If you are hungry and away from home, you are going to head straight to the vending machine or hit up the drive-through. Always have something healthy in your desk drawer, coat pocket, briefcase, or purse.
9) Cut Back on Carbs
While insulin is vital, did you know it’s a fat storing hormone? Your body will make more insulin to deal with carbs than protein. Cut back on carbs and most people lose weight without even trying. You don’t have to stop eating carbs entirely, just cut back on them. Eat more vegetables (except corn, peas, and potatoes), lean meat, fish, cheese, eggs, and nuts. Cut out soda, candy, fruit juice. Try cauliflower rice and zoodles (“noodles’ made from squash or zucchini).
10) Look for Exercise
Just a quick note here: getting in exercise is not an excuse to pig out on anything other than fruits and veggies. Having said that, it’s the small things that add up and will make a difference. While your diet accounts for probably 80 percent of your health, exercise is a big bonus. Look for ways to get just a bit more exercise into your daily life. You know some of them; take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking lot or park a block away from your destination and walk, but how about some of these ideas:
- Stand or pace while talking on the phone
- Don’t send that email or phone- walk over and talk to your co-worker (when possible)
- Take a walk on your breaks (even if it’s just around the block)
- Do 10 jumping jacks anywhere, anytime you can
- Do your own filing at work, make your own coffee, walk to the restroom that is the furthest away from your desk
- Try changing your office chair for a mobility ball
- Keep a yoga mat or dumbbells next to the sofa and use them while you watch TV
- Wash your own car (Don’t forget to vacuum inside!)
- Dance while you’re cleaning house or cooking
- Have at least one good belly laugh every day. It only burns about 40 calories on average, but the health benefits of laughter are enormous.