Improving health and fitness is a common goal, but starting your information search can be completely overwhelming. One site will say to stop eating carbs, another will say they’re essential. One site will say to only eat between 12-8PM, another will say to eat several small meals throughout the day. Instead of following any of these arbitrary rules or going “all in”, I recommend starting small. The following 5 basic habits are great places to start, then refine your journey from there. Which habit you start with will depend on where you’re at in your journey and what area of your life could use the most help.
1. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water.
Water is key in helping you feel your best. Calculate your body weight in lbs, cut that number in half, and set it as a goal number of ounces to drink each day. If this is a reach for you, start smaller and work your way up. These tips also help:
- Swap one coffee/soda/juice/glass of wine per day for water.
- Use sparkling flavored water to help you hit the goal.
- Drink a glass as soon as you wake up!
2. Remove distractions when eating.
We often multi-task, eating while we do other things. This takes away our ability to tune into our own hunger and fullness cues. Removing distractions (tv, phones) helps us slow down, enjoy our food more, digest better, and listen to our bodies. People often eat less and eat better when the distractions are removed, without having to track intake or consciously change food choices. Giving your food more attention just through slowing down and removing screens has a wealth of impacts and is relatively simple to implement.
3. Add walking to your day.
Workouts get a lot of attention, but what are you doing during your other waking hours every day? If the answer is sitting, let’s work some more movement into the day. Walking is a great option because you can do it inside or outside and it helps with both stress management and getting in enough activity. A nice most-meal walk helps with digestion, too! Set a timer to get up at the end of each hour and walk the entire house, or to your mailbox, or to the end of your street. Or, after each meal, walk for 5-10 minutes. The activity adds up (and also creates positive momentum for you to keep going).
4. Develop a bedtime routine.
Better sleep improves physical and mental health. It allows you to recover and gives you the energy to be more productive during the day. Sleep may be the single biggest “bang for your buck” change you can make to your health. Some easy places to start are: decreasing caffeine intake (especially in the afternoon), going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, or starting a bedtime routine (there’s a reason it works so well for kids!). I’ve found the Hatch Restore to be so helpful for nighttime routines (and gentle wake-ups). I also find that reducing blue light after sunset helps me wind down (which is why I love these glasses).
5. Start small with working out.
You don’t have to work out 7 days a week to see results, and in fact, you shouldn’t. Especially if you’re just starting. How many days per week do you think you can commit to exercise for the rest of your life? That is the number of days you should start with, and usually that number is more like 2-3 days/week. In the beginning I’d also focus less on “what’s the most effective workout” and more on “what do I like doing enough to stick to it”. Try different things: strength training, barre, spin, running etc. See what sticks! My Get Strong At Home program can be modified for fewer workouts/week and is a great way to try working out at home.
You may have noticed that not all of these are diet and exercise related. That’s because your health is much deeper than that. If you are dialed on your nutrition and exercise but have no social interaction, can’t sleep at night and spend your entire day thinking about food and exercise, I’d argue that you’re not experiencing optimal health.
If you’re looking for help with habits like these, my HealthierU program may be for you. Our virtual group setting encourages accountability and gives you access to expert coaching at a fraction of the cost for 1:1 coaching. And if you’re looking for a more advanced/customized plan, contact me about 1:1 options!