Everyone wants to be healthier, right? I’ve never heard anyone say, “I hope to get fatter and less healthy this year.” Right? Okay, that might seem obvious, but I think that it’s worth considering that our actions and attitude have a lot to do with our health. While you might not be saying, “I want to be unhealthy this year,” you might not be saying the opposite either.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
I think Norman has it right. So how do we get started living a healthier life? Here are seven ways that have helped me accomplish my goal of living a healthier life:
1. Start Being Positive
As simple as it sounds, choosing a positive attitude about your health will have a huge impact on your health. Start each day by saying, “I am going to be healthier today.” If you begin your days with this simple statement, you’ll be surprised to find that the rest of your thoughts and actions will start to fall in line. Hang that note on your bathroom mirror. I promise you it will help.
2. Drink More Water
One of the first things that I decided to do a few years ago when I knew I wanted to improve my own health was to start drinking more water. Once again, I feel like the morning sets the tone for our day, so I began each day by drinking one large glass of water. If you start each day this way, you’ll be more hydrated, more relaxed, and more motivated to be healthy.
Motivation comes from action, not the other way around. It’s important that we set goals we can accomplish so that we can gain more motivation. That’s why drinking one large glass of water is so important. It’s a small goal that you can accomplish, and it’s something you can build upon. Make it a point to get started with that step right away!
3. Take a Short Walk
For the large majority of us, walking is something we can all do. It’s one of the simplest and most effective long term exercise plans as well. If you haven’t made a habit of walking before, then try these simple ideas:
- park at the back of the parking lot at the store.
- walk once around the block when you go out to get the mail.
- take a lunch break once a week at your local park and walk for 20-30 minutes.
Any means you employ to start walking more will be fine. Just make a small change, and stick with it. You’ll get to change your surroundings and get some fresh air. Try and get out and walk a few times each week. You’ll be surprised to find that your mood improves, and you’ll start to find that you really enjoy it.
4. Add the Good Stuff – Don’t Worry About the Bad
In my opinion, one of the worst things you can do to try and get healthy is diet. Dieting is stereotypically something that requires that you don’t eat certain foods and deprive yourself of things you like. While in some rare cases this might be necessary, I don’t feel like its the best course of action. Often times, after a diet, people return to their normal habits and eat even more of the food that is making them unhealthy.
Rather than try to eliminate the “bad” foods, just add in the things that you know are healthy for you. Eat some fresh fruit for breakfast, have a salad for lunch, and enjoy some rice and steamed vegetables for dinner. Don’t focus on the negative of what not to eat, just add some healthy options to your meals for the week. Over time, you will eat more of the healthy food as you adjust, and eat less of the food that doesn’t improve your health.
Make small adjustments and encourage yourself when you eat the things that you know will help you improve. Don’t be discouraged when you eat something less healthy. It’s ok, we all do that, and as long as you focus on the positive improvements you are making, you’ll be making headway in the long run.
5. Listen to Your Body
I think one of the things that is not taught enough in health education is listening to your body. The miracle of the human body is something that we are still in the process of discovering, and one of its amazing capabilities is self-healing.
You may not be used to listening to your body. It’s not something that people talk about all the time, but it is something that I’ve found very helpful in my own quest for healthy living. Here are a few tips and suggestions that have helped me:
- Eat slower. Give your stomach time to tell you when it’s full.
- Don’t work out too hard. If your body is tired, that’s ok. Consistency is what matters in diet and exercise, so it’s ok to take it easy today. Injuries last forever, take it easy.
- Make sure you hydrate yourself! Pay attention to that thirsty feeling, and drink more water. Freshly made juice is also a great option.
- Trust your tongue. If something tastes funny to you, take it easy and don’t eat more. Often the indication of food poisoning, allergic reactions, or other food related issues are brought to our attention when the food touches our mouth. Pay attention and don’t ignore these warning signs.
- Get the rest you need. If you need a nap, take one. If you need more sleep, go to bed early.
There are many ways to listen to our body, but these are just a few ways to re-learn the things that, over time, you might have become accustomed to ignoring.
6. Practice Moderation
Moderation is something we all hear about, but probably don’t put into practice enough. Just like adding small amounts of positive things like water, fresh food, and exercise into our lives can help us improve our health, moderation can help us as well.
Start small and work your way up. If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day, just drop to 8-9.
If you eat ice cream 4 times a week, try 3.
If you are drinking 4-5 drinks a night, try 3.
Whatever area you feel you need to improve in, take it slow, and take a small step toward moderation. It doesn’t have to be you quitting cold turkey, it can just be one step that helps in the long run. Moderation is the best health plan anyway, so make one small adjustment and encourage yourself for it!
7. Be Consistent
This is the most important step for success; consistency. That’s why I always tell people to start with positive thinking and drinking water. Those are two simple things that you can be consistent with.
Start with things you can accomplish and be consistent. Whatever you do daily will have the greatest long term effect on your health, so remember that. There is one thing that I tell myself everyday when I am heading to the gym to work out:
“Today is the most important day for my workout and healthy diet.”
I know that if I let myself slide today, then I’ll want to do the same thing tomorrow. If I hold myself to my goals – to drink water, to work out, to eat healthy foods and moderate the less healthy foods, I’ll be on my way to a life full of health and success.
How do you stay healthy? Share your thoughts in the comments below.