Getting fit and sloughing off unwanted habits isn't exactly a one stop shop—at least, not in my experience. Instead, I've learned improving your health is a lot more effective (and easier) when you're looking at the big picture and taking things one step at a time. So instead of overhauling your whole life, nutritional outlook and agenda, here's a new game plan: Ten small steps to ease you into a healthier day, whether you begin with one or opt to take on the whole list.
First Thing in the A.M.
Whether your morning hours are pre-dawn or sometime before lunch, here are some strategies for making the most of them.
Start With Water
By the time you wake up in the morning your body is headed straight for dehydration, which means that starting your morning with a full glass of water is a quick and effective way to re-hydrate. Bonus: You'll also get your metabolism moving and start flushing out toxins. If you want to get really wild, try out lemon water instead for an extra detox and energy kick.
Take Your Coffee Black
Parting with sugar can be tough (believe me, I know). But skipping the extra spoonfuls or the added sweeteners in your favorite creamer is a super simple way to cut down on your daily intake. Once you've made the leap, consider making your own cup of bulletproof coffee and see if it helps you sustain that caffeine-fueled burst of energy a little longer.
Consider Dry Brushing
Who doesn't love a good health trend—especially when it looks like it may really, actually do your body some good? Enter dry brushing. Said to boost circulation, remove dead skin cells and jump start your body's ability to detox effectively, this option only takes a few minutes and makes for a great pre-shower routine.
Throughout Your Day
Squeeze out a few extra health benefits from the things you were going to do anyway.
Park Farther from Your Office
This may be one of the older tricks in the health book, but it's also one of the easiest to add to your day. Instead of scanning for the parking spot closest to the building, pick one in the back row and savor those few extra moments outside before you head to your desk for the day. It only adds an extra minute or two to your arrival to work but may bring some extra pep to your step.
Increase Your Water Intake
Yes, we've already discussed that essential first glass of H2O. Keep that hydration momentum rolling by adding an extra glass of water—or two—into your workday while you're at it. Better yet, invest in a water bottle that will help you reach an optimal level of hydration and keep it at your side. Try a one liter bottle and plan to drink your way through it twice each day.
Schedule Your Workouts
Whether it's a daily run or a fitness class, by actually adding your workout to wherever you keep your schedule (instead of simply remembering you'll try to squeeze some exercise in) you're doing two things: First, making time for yourself and second, committing to your workout. Both will help you get that workout gear on instead of slipping onto your couch for a little extra Netflix.
Take a Lunchtime Walk
Too busy for a morning or evening workout? Try fitting some into your workday. Make sure you grab a pair of good walking shoes and get out for some fresh air on your lunch break—and make it more of a challenge by increasing the distance every day.
Snack on Smoothies
I'll admit my preferred afternoon snack is a cookie. Or, you know, a bag of barbecue potato chips. But swapping that bag of processed sugar and starch for a nutrient-packed green smoothie? I could get into that. Especially if it means consuming extra greens without thinking twice. Plus, these recipes look kind of incredible.
In the Evening Hours
Finishing your day off right can set the tone for an entire week of wellness.
Make a Meal Plan
Anyone else have strong feelings about grocery shopping, or making dinner at the end of a long day of work? Let's talk about meal planning, which may be the best way to save time, eliminate some stress and potentially increase your nutrition intake. Win, win, win.
Go to Bed Earlier
This may be the most important item on this list. Lack of sleep can almost single-handedly sabotage your health, while on the other hand, getting enough sleep can help eliminate stress on your body, boost your immune system and even reduce things like sugar cravings. It can take a while to really readjust your sleep schedule and form lasting sleep habits, but going to bed even ten minutes earlier each night will help you add significantly more shut eye to your life in a matter of days.
Are you making changes to improve your health? Where did you start?
Re-edited from a post that originally appeared 01.19.2017.-CM