More often than not most of us set out to be healthier for the sake of aesthetics and/or losing weight. This is setting you up for failure. While you may strive to look a certain way or be a certain weight, these are primarily short-term goals. What happens once you reach that number on the scale? Do you go back to your old ways? Does the goal post keep moving?
Do yourself a favor and think about your longevity and health. Sustainable healthy behaviors will elicit the same response of weight loss or looking better as a by-product. In fact, you may find yourself no longer caring about the number on the scale or that six pack you’ve always wanted because you feel better and are overall happier with your life.
There are small doable things we can do to help us change our habits for a lifetime. These small changes can not only lead to the weight loss mentioned above, but they may improve your quality of life.
5 Simple Life-Changing Habits
Cut the Alcohol – One Drink Per Day
Yes, as the author of this article, I do admit that I love craft beer and wine. However, the frequency and how much you indulge directly relate to our longevity. Countless studies show us the negative impacts of alcohol and overconsumption. Particularly on the brain – alcohol in a sense literally kills brain cells and leads to numerous diseases. Here are just a few of the adverse long-term health effects of alcohol:
- Cardiovascular issues – high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke. Etc.
- Liver damage, disease, and cancer
- Digestive problems
- Increased risk of cancer including; breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.
- Weakening of the immune system
- Learning and memory problems
- Mental health problems
But what about the studies released on the positive effects of red wine, for example? Glad you asked. It’s all about moderation. One glass of red wine daily can actually be good for you due to the antioxidants. Now, if you down two bottles of wine on a Friday night, you just lost all of the good benefits and are just poisoning your body in a sense.
If you do partake in alcohol, be smart about it. Stick to one drink per day – pretty simple.
Drink More Water
We all know this. Our bodies need water to function correctly, yet many still do not consume enough water. When fully hydrated, our bodies can optimally function, and often when we are thirsty, we mistake this for hunger. Therefore, drinking more water may actually help with weight control.
Get a reusable water bottle and make it your goal to drink so many daily. How much you need to drink is subjective. If you are someone who never drinks water, start by just simply aiming to drink one per day. If you already drink water, raise your goal by drinking 2-3 bottles a day.
I always aim to drink at least three 40oz servings of water daily. I have a reusable mug that holds 40oz, and I aim to drink three daily. Sometimes I drink more and sometimes I drink less, but it’s a good daily goal that helps ensure I am mindful of how much water I drink.
It is astounding how much time the average person spends sitting every day. I encourage you to track how frequently and long you sit every day. Once you get an idea of how many hours you spend sitting, this can help you set small, realistic goals to stand and move more throughout the day.
A good place to start is to stand and move around a bit every hour you are awake. This may sound super easy, but you will find it takes mindfulness to ensure you are actually doing it.
Get a pedometer and establish your baseline. How much do you currently walk in an average day? From there, set a goal to increase your step count each day. Set small, realistic goals. For example, after tracking, if you find you walk 2,000 steps per day – awesome! Now, make it your goal to hit at least 2,100 steps every day. Once you can easily hit that, start gradually increasing the step count.
You can easily get more steps in each day by making minor adjustments to your everyday life, like:
- Taking the stairs
- Park farther away
- Avoiding driving if possible – walk to your destination instead
- Walk while having phone calls or meetings (if possible – I get it sometimes we need our screens)
Fruits and Veggies
Diet is confusing. There is so much information about what you should and shouldn’t eat. Do yourself a favor and just keep it simple – eat more fruits and veggies. Every meal should contain a fruit and veggie. The more non-starchy veggies, the better. Vegetables are incredibly filling and, when prepared properly, incredibly tasty.
Simple switches and ideas to eat more fruits and veggies daily:
- For breakfast, choose oatmeal and load it up with fruits – top it with fresh fruits like diced apples, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Your bowl should look more like a mixed fruit bowl than oatmeal.
- Sneak in spinach everywhere – spinach is one of the few veggies that have more health benefits when cooked than raw, so cook with it. Put it in everything; you likely won’t even notice it’s in there. Add it to spaghetti, burgers, eggs, etc. You name it and can likely saute it and throw it in whatever you are making.
- Keep snacks on hand – carrots, celery sticks, bananas, etc.- easily accessible so you can grab them without any effort when searching for a snack.
- Learn to cook – one of the many reasons people wrinkle their noses up at vegetables is because they have never had them properly prepared. We now have tons of delicious recipes at our fingertips at all times so there is no excuse for not knowing how to cook with vegetables.
Habits for a Lifetime
The key to long-term success is making lifestyle changes. The five tips listed above are so incredibly simple that anyone can start making these small changes to their everyday life. You can continue to make more changes as you become accustomed. Meaning you started by adding spinach to your spaghetti sauce. Now it’s time to punch it up a notch and add even more veggies. Think zucchini noodles, adding diced veggies like mushrooms and onions to your sauce, skipping the garlic toast in lieu of cheesy cauliflower crusts, etc.
The key message is to really start by making small lifestyle changes and continue to set new goals.