If you think you're too busy or don't have time to make healthy lifestyle changes, I totally get it! I have kids, a demanding job, etc. What I've found is that positive transformation starts with doing just one small thing and then adding another small thing.
Below are 15 baby steps to help you get going. (I've tried to pick the easiest to fit into a very busy day.) Start with just one and then add another next week.
1. Practice exercise meditation. (The ultimate form of multi-tasking!)
Rich Roll talks about this in his podcasts, too: it's the idea that a rhythmic form of exercise can allow you to go into a meditative state. When you're running/walking/swimming/hiking for an extended time, there are no distractions and you can "zone in," which is a lot like the feeling you get when meditating. This takes practice and I usually need at least 30 minutes to reach that meditative state.
2. When you're 50% full, take a bowl and bring it to your screen.
We know that it's bad to eat in front of screen: Doing so can increase your food intake by 10% at that meal and then 25% more during the day. But maybe you don't have time to enjoy three seated meals a day. My suggestion? Eat at a table until you're half full, then take a little bowl and bring it to your desk.
3. Find a few minutes to be creative. When your mind is creative, you cannot be unhappy.
Those of you who are musically inclined will be happy to know that music increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in the brain. Those things can help you lose the excess weight, lower cortisol, and feel happier and more satisfied with your life.
4. Buy dishwasher and oven-safe glass storage containers.
Ditch the BPA, toxins and endocrine disruptors and opt for oven-safe glass instead. The good thing about this is that it can go straight from the fridge to the oven, to the microwave. Start with this one thing, since it's too overwhelming to most to cut out every endocrine disruptor and toxin in our lives.
5. No time for core exercises? Do weight training standing up!
Squeeze your abs every time you lift. You can also try standing on one foot for an extra challenge. Set an alarm reminder every day to hold your abs in.
6. Start with 2 or 3 yoga poses.
Yoga does not need to be in a studio and frankly many of us are not ready for that anyway. I like the core poses from Michael Taylor's post. Just takes a few minutes before your shower.
7. Delegate and outsource everything you can afford to.
The best way to wipe stress from your life is to hire someone to do the things that stress you out. Now I know many of you might think, Oh yeah, who has the money for that, but hear me out. Many students are willing to babysit for an hour or two a week so you can go for a hike/walk/dinner with your partner. Or buy the pre-cut vegetables at Trader Joe's because that will make your dinner prep easy. Instead of spending money on movies or massages, spend it on something that will decrease your daily stress.
8. Make your motto Activity all day.
Most of us have jobs in which we sit for hours and don't make movement during the day our priority since we have a set exercise time. I fall into this trap, too, but studies have found that all-day activity is SUPERIOR to one hour at the gym. The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found that an hour of vigorous activity isn't enough to keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels in a healthy range when individuals spend the rest of the day sitting down.
9. Set a consistent bedtime.
It's the easiest way to fall asleep faster and have a better night of sleep. If you missed your bedtime one night, don't panic! Instead, wake up at the same time as you do every day and try to sneak in a 20-minute power nap later in the day.
10. Automate your breakfast.
Pick one or two healthy breakfasts and eat those every weekday. Once you automate, you're less likely to make a spur of the moment (unhealthy) decision or to skip breakfast. Some easy picks? A green smoothie! (Some recipes here, here, and here.) Also, give yourself something different on the weekends so that when Monday comes around, you're excited about your breakfast.
11. Take an information vacation.
I never thought I could do this, but I went off of social media, email, Google, TV, etc for a full day. It was like I was detoxing my brain. And I was: Having so much information thrown at you all the time via CNN, Twitter, Facebook makes you tired. It also causes you get distracted. I found that by giving myself a break from all those, I had so much more free time! I asked my friends and family the news of the day and it made for great conversation with colleagues. Now I do mini-versions of this all the time, where I go off gadgets for six hours.
12. Consider a Vitamin D supplement.
Now, I'm not your personal doctor, but I bet that your levels of Vitamin D are low, especially as the sun goes down earlier in the fall. From weight loss, to less allergies, Vitamin D is being studied as a positive addition to almost every ailment. It's cheap and easy! Get your levels checked during your next physical and remember the optimal range is now 50-70 ng/ml.
13. Add friends who are supportive of your changes.
If you're used to going to fast food places with colleagues during lunch, go for a walk instead. Start hanging out with people who recognize your commitment. One of the things I love about my best friends and loved ones is that they support my weird eating habits or exercise routines even if they're different or unconventional.
14. Make friends with apple cider vinegar.
I'm not going to rehash it because there is an awesome article on this site that lists 15 ways you can use ACV to detoxify your home, clean your teeth, shine your hair, and more. I recommend it to all patients who want natural treatments for allergies, weight loss, or heart burn
15. Use your coconut oil.
It's a great investment for cooking, making smoothies, and even caring for your skin and hair. Did you know that it's also good for your immune system? Or that medium chain triglycerides contained in coconut oil can help lower cholesterol? It's great for the thyroid and other hormones, too.
Want to know a strange trick for when you need a satisfying but "healthy" snack? Try a square of dark chocolate dipped in a spoon of coconut oil or manna. (Don't knock 'til you try it.)
So do you find these tips helpful? Or are they a bunch of garbage? I want to know because I have many more that I've collected over the years and am happy to share.
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