“As I see it, every day you do one of two things: build health or produce disease in yourself.” ~Adelle Davis
Do you live a healthy lifestyle? You don’t have to be running marathons, eating tofu and sprouts, or meditating for hours to say yes. A healthy lifestyle is a work in progress, with peaks and valleys, but hopefully always moving forward toward learning more, making better choices, and living mindfully.
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to begin with big, dramatic, challenging change. Making small changes and incorporating them into your life slowly and incrementally will increase the likelihood that you will stick with the change and want to do more.
If you view any positive change as a small gift you give to yourself, to honor your body, mind and spirit, it will make the change less intimidating and more natural. As modern dancer Martha Graham reminds, “The body is a sacred garment.” We must treat it as such.
In just one day, there are many small changes you can try to facilitate amazing health benefits and perhaps kick-start an new healthy habit for life.
Here are 12 actions that require little time and commitment but provide big rewards, especially if they are repeated every day.
1. Start your day with stretching. Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier in the morning to begin your day with some stretching. Stretching helps wake you up, gives you more energy, improves flexibility and coordination, helps body circulation, and fosters relaxation. Here are some great morning yoga stretches for you to try.
2. Fuel your body properly for the day. If you eat one really healthy meal a day, make it breakfast. A combination of complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat packs big health benefits and can leave you feeling full for hours giving you the energy to start your day. Here are some great breakfast ideas.
3. Make room for tea. Tea contains loads of antioxidants, reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke, bolsters you immune system, protects against cancer, and increases your metabolism. What’s not to love? If you can’t give up coffee entirely, make your second cup a cup of tea instead. White and green teas are the healthiest, but any kind tea is great for you.
4. Drink ice water. You expend more calories warming up ice water to body temperature than you do drinking cool or tepid water. If you drink 8 pints of ice water a day, you’ll burn 123 calories. Plus drinking water keeps you hydrated and flushes toxins from your body.
5. Breathe properly. Proper deep breathing through the abdomen has a myriad of health benefits including improving digestion, the quality of your blood, nervous system function, and the respiratory system. It’s easy to learn correct, slow breathing to enjoy big benefits to your health. When you feel yourself breathing shallowly or too rapidly, correct your breathing style.
“The body is a sacred garment.” ~ Martha Graham
6. Manage stress as it happens. Frequent or chronic stress will do a number on your health. When your autonomic nervous system is over-activated, you will see physical symptoms that can lead to long term illness including depression, anxiety, ulcers, headaches, hair loss and heart disease. When you are in a stressful situation, especially one that is chronic, remove yourself as quickly as possible, and treat the stress. Breathe properly (see above), meditate, exercise, talk with someone, take a walk. Calm your nervous system before stress claims your health.
7. Eat small and eat often. Having six smaller meals rather than three large ones a day will help you manage hunger and manage your weight. In fact, use a salad plate rather than a dinner plate for your meals to help control portions. This method will help you avoid ravenous hunger and binge eating. You will be more mindful of what you are putting on your plate as well.
8. Add two goods and remove two bads. Pick two foods that you know are bad for you and replace them with two superfoods. Here’s a great list of best and worst foods. Try this for a day, then challenge yourself to try it again another day this week. Just increasing your vegetable intake and decreasing your white foods (white breads, rice, pasta, cookies, etc.) is a great way to lose weight and add nutrients to your body.
9. Fidget in your chair at work. Foot tapping, rocking, bouncing your legs, and other restless movements can burn somewhere around 120 calories and hour, depending on your weight and age. Instead of sitting perfectly still, move some part of your body (if it’s not too disruptive) and lose weight while you work.
10. A little movement goes a long way. Even if you can’t get motivated to start a serious exercise routine, just do several short exercise bursts during the day. Take the stairs, walk the long way, do jumping jacks for five minutes, clean the house at a faster pace, take a short walk, dance to some music. A little exercise is better than no exercise. It will burn some calories and may motivate you to move for longer periods of time.
11. Have sex. Regular sex has surprising health benefits. It relieves stress, boosts immunity, burns 85 or more calories (per 30 minutes), improves cardiovascular health, reduces pain, lowers the risk of prostate cancer, and helps you sleep. It has some other added bonuses too.
12. Go to bed earlier. Adults optimally need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Most of us are lucky if we get the low end of that range. Proper amounts of sleep help reduce stress, helps keep your heart healthy, reduces inflammation, makes you more alert during the day, bolsters your memory, helps you lose weight, and reduces your risk for depression. You will feel better, think better, and look better with a good night’s sleep.
These are easy, doable activities that won’t disrupt your routine too much or cause you to run away screaming. If you are able to do them today, can I challenge you to do them tomorrow? How about the next day? Creating a healthy lifestyle does require consistency.
If you do just these activities, you will burn around 500 calories, add several super foods to your diet, remove a couple of bad foods, reduce your stress, improve your overall health, have great sex, and get a good night’s sleep. Not bad for a day’s work!
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