15 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle
The week of January 20-27th is National Healthy Weight Week.
We all want to live a healthier lifestyle, but many of us don’t know where to start. Luckily, transitioning to a healthier lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. Follow these easy steps from UnityPoint Health to get started.
1. Get a Move On
Dance, swim, tidy up your house, jog or take a brisk walk to start the week off with a bang. The CDC suggests that the average American adult exercise for two hours and 30 minutes per week. Find an aerobic exercise you love, and you won’t want to miss a sweat session.
2. Drink Water
Belly up to the kitchen sink to refill your water bottle. Drinking water when you’re thirsty and with meals can help you keep a normal temperature, feel more focused and help your body rid itself of waste.
3. Catch Some Zzzz’s
Aim for six to eight hours of rest each evening. Sleeping not only helps you feel more rejuvenated, but also reduces your stress levels. Hit the hay at the same time each night and wake up at a similar time each morning to reap the most benefits from shut eye.
4. Take a Breath
While it’s true you’re breathing every second of every day, you probably aren’t strategically taking deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed, irritable or overwhelmed. Stress can make losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight a battle, so knowing ways to combat it is important for your overall health. Practice diaphragmatic breathing, slow deep breathing into your belly, to put your mind at ease anywhere and at anytime.
5. Sign Up for a Race
Signing up for a race automatically provides you with a goal and a timeline to reach it. Race options are endless: from 5K’s to full marathons, there is a race for everyone’s skill level. Not all races require running, either. Research to see if a charity you care about puts on a race, so you can celebrate your own health and others’ well-being, too.
6. Chat with loved ones
Connecting with friends and family who encourage your healthy habits is an important tool for weight management. Confiding in people closest with you can provide a sense of comfort and stability. Call a family member once a week or meet up with a friend for coffee to stay connected.
7. Step It Up
Take the stairs whenever possible: in the mall, in your apartment building, at the office, etc. Climbing stairs throughout the day not only burns extra calories, but it helps you form healthy habits. The more you move, the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight.
8. Focus on What You Can Change
Life is full of ups and downs, but focusing on the aspects of your life that you can change or impact will help you feel more in control and less stressed. Knowing that you have the ability to lose weight, or manage your weight, can motivate you to make healthier choices like exercising before work, packing a nutritious lunch instead of eating out or choosing water instead of soda.
9. Derail Your Stress
Keeping stress at bay is sometimes easier said than done. However, there are several ways to overcome stress and anxiety. The CDC suggests the following tips to manage stress:
Avoid drugs and alcohol
Confide in loved ones
Participate in social events
Eat a well-balanced diet
Get plenty of sleep
Become active in your community
10. Cook a Nutritious Meal
Whip up a well-balanced, nutritious meal to celebrate your health this week. The CDC suggests incorporating each food group into your daily life. Fill your plate with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, low-fat dairy products and protein-enriched foods like poultry, beans and nuts to help you feel your best.
11. Record Goals
Write down your weight loss or weight management goals this week to take ownership over your health and well-being. When recording your goals, it is important to make them as specific as possible. In addition, each goal should have a deadline that is both attainable and challenging. For example, the goal of losing weight by your birthday is a great objective, but it isn’t specific enough. Losing 20 pounds by your birthday is a goal that is both specific and time-bound, which helps you take responsibility.
12. Be Conscientious
Making sensible choices, organization and persistence are all key to weight management and overall happiness in life. A conscious choice to drink water instead of a soda, organizing healthy meals for the week and sticking to an exercise routine reflect being conscientious and ultimately affect your well-being in a positive way.
13. Snack on It
Snacking is imperative for weight management, but you must choose snacks that fuel your body. The CDC suggests choosing fruits and vegetables for snacks since they are low-calorie and filling. An apple, a cup of blueberries, carrots with hummus, or a banana are all excellent choices when preventing the unwanted snack attack.
14. Reward Yourself
Stay motivated to achieve your weight loss goals by rewarding yourself for mini milestones. Put a dollar in a jar each time you exercise and vow to spend it on a trip to the destination of your choice or buy yourself a new pair of running shoes after a month of training for the big race. Rewarding yourself with non-food items can help you stay focused on the desired outcome.
15. Just “Be”
Live in the moment for a few minutes each day: feel the sun on your skin, listen to your favorite song or count your blessings to live a fuller life. Carving out time in your day to relax and enjoy life is imperative for true happiness.