8 Easy Steps To Living A Healthier Life

Fear of change can hit everyone at some point, so know you’re not alone. Being healthy doesn’t have to mean you have to immediately go organic, vegan, and gluten-free. You also don’t have to exercise every day or do some sort of cleansing routine. These 8 easy steps will help you live a healthier life that can lead to big success!

Step 1: Sleep More

At the start of the week, identify 2-3 days that you could go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier and/or wake up 15-30 minutes later. Write it down and commit to your new sleep or wake schedule just for the week. Most observational sleep studies show that 6-8 hours a sleep a night is key to longevity. Sleeping will give you the energy you require to achieve the most in a day!

Step 2: Stand More

Sure, walking, running, and exercising more would be great! But, a super small step would be standing more. Make a commitment to taking phone calls, texting, checking facebook and instagram, sorting mail, and other daily ‘tasks’ while standing. You’ll be surprised how many extra steps this might lead to and how much more energetic you may be by the end of the day.

Step 3: Eat Better

No, I’m not expecting you to start a new diet or eliminate a food group. Simply, try one nutritious bit of advice each day of the week. For example:

  • Monday – Have something (even if it’s small) for breakfast
  • Tuesday – Try to eliminate all processed food
  • Wednesday – Skip the cocktail, wine, or beer
  • Thursday – Add a mid-morning snack
  • Friday – Eat a vegetarian meal for lunch
  • Saturday – Skip the bread at dinner
  • Sunday – Enjoy dark chocolate

Step 4: Drink More Water

There are MANY reasons why drinking water is important. Water (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4287/10-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Drink-More-Water.html) can increase energy, decrease fatigue, boost your immunity, relieve headaches, and more! For me, I refuse to use a giant water bottle or cup to get my 8 glasses a day. I use small cups (8-16oz) which forces me to get up every 45-60 minutes to refill which leads to more standing (Remember #2?) and more walking, in general.

Step 5: Laugh More

According to WebMD, we actually change physiologically when we laugh. Laughter causes your muscles to stretch, heart rate and blood pressure to increase, and you burn more calories than when you are at rest. The mental release this provides is also great for your health. While it can’t replace a workout, it certainly is better than sitting around like a couch potato!

Start your day, your lunch break, your afternoon latte break or transition from work to play with a good laugh courtesy of a funny article, YouTube video, or TV show. Just make sure you go for it … laugh. No, I mean REALLY laugh: the ROFL kind.

Step 6: Get Connected

Surround yourself with friends that are living healthy lives, or at least making a concerted effort to try! Ditch situations that could potentially lead to unhealthy choices when you can. Find accountability partners that will help keep you on track at work, at home, and in your social circles.

Step 7: Count the Excuses

Most healthy habits might take some getting use to and new ‘patterns’ to be built in our daily lives. The first step to adopting healthier behaviors (like the ones mentioned above) is to count the number of times you make excuses to NOT do it.

Action Plan: Keep track, for one week, the number of times that you ditch the ‘healthier’ behavior for the ‘traditional’ behavior. Each time you note the excuse also recognize what you could do to make the healthy behavior easier to choose. You’ll begin retraining your brain and your body, simultaneously.

Step 8: Ditch the Guilt

Changing engrained habits to lead a healthier lifestyle is not easy. But, guilt doesn’t make it better. If you make a less ‘healthful’ choice today, review (see #7), reassess, and move on. Is one piece of chocolate going to kill you? No, but 4 months of chocolate every day might! Is one day of inactivity going to pack on the pounds? No, but 4 months of inactivity certainly will.

Sometimes we backslide because our ‘misses’ become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Oh well, ruined my diet today. I’ll start again next Monday.” It’s not an all or nothing proposition, small changes and better choices each and every day will keep you healthy for the long run!

Now, that doesn’t seem too hard, does it? There’s much more where this came from, but it’s important to start small and progress. Small wins over time will keep you in the ‘healthy’ game. Keep in mind, even these small changes could be overwhelming if you tried to do them all at the same time. Choose 1 each week and celebrate your victories. You’ll be a healthier you in no time!

What easy step have you made for a healthier life?

Photo credit: shutterbean

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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the founder of SFR, a consulting firm for aspiring fitness educators, manufacturers and managers, as well as the owner of Balletone® and GroupEx Pro®. Shannon is a 17 year fitness veteran, freelance writer, as well as an international presenter for Schwinn®, BOSU and ACE. She is a member of the ACE Board of Directors, has helped author portions of the ACE and ACSM Group Fitness manuals, and has starred in over 25 fitness videos. Shannon is a certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach interested in helping fitness professionals navigate the industry and find their place. She's busy improving the self-esteem of the world as the Director of Exercise Programming for the Anytime Fitness Franchise.

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