Jump-Start Your Health Routine in 3 Simple Steps

Getting healthy is a worthy goal, but sometimes can feel overwhelming. The amount of health information available in the world today is staggering. A quick search on the internet for health habits yields a mind-boggling number of ideas and advice. Finding the right place to start is key. Whether you need to revamp your eating or exercise habits, shed a few pounds, or help your family reform their habits, these simple steps will help you get off to the right start.

Beginning with a few simple goals can yield impressive changes in the long run. The key is to keep things manageable and focused. Start by making a simple yet specific plan.

Focus on Food

What we put into our bodies might just be the biggest factor we can control when it comes to our health. Here are a few key points to remember when making your health plan.

  • Keep it balanced. Eating a balanced diet, including plenty of fruits of vegetables, is one of the most important improvements to your health routine that you can make. If you’re not eating any fruits or vegetables, start there. Include one in each meal or snack you eat. If you’re eating a few here and there, challenge yourself to include more.
  • Focus on a few small changes in your diet. Once you have mastered those, keep improving. Try setting one goal each week and work to master that. Examples of small changes might include choosing water instead of soda for each meal, or choosing fruit and yogurt instead of donuts for breakfast, or swapping your usual afternoon cookie for a few nuts and string cheese. The small, simple changes add up over time to build your healthy lifestyle.
  • Meal and snack planning is crucial to success. Even if your meal plan changes through the week, having healthy meals and snacks planned allows you to make a healthy grocery list. Sticking to your healthy grocery list keeps your fridge stocked with healthy options. And if there are healthy options around when hunger strikes, you’re on your way to healthy habits.

    Include Exercise 

    Many Americans aren’t getting enough exercise. Technology and a culture of convenience have made it pretty easy to be sedentary and the idea of exercise can often foster feelings of dread for many.

    But if we can find exercise that we actually look forward to and enjoy, we can be successful in maintaining an exercise habit. With all the options out there it’s important to find something that fits into your daily schedule and that you anticipate as a time to improve yourself and relieve some stress.

    Think about your current fitness level and find at least one way to progress each week. If you’re starting from scratch, a walk around the block during lunch and after dinner can be a great place to start. If you have a current exercise habit, look for ways to increase the intensity. Add a mile or two to your running route or increase the amount of weight you’ve been lifting.

    Both cardiovascular exercise and weight bearing (resistance training, i.e. weight lifting) exercise are important.

    If you aren’t including both in your routine, now is a great time to add some variety. Most importantly, find something you enjoy. Hike with your kids, do some yoga, play tag at the park, start a water fight. Choosing exercise you enjoy will help you create a successful exercise routine.

    Get Some Sleep 

    Though often overlooked when improving health, getting the proper amount of sleep is crucial to improving your health. When we get enough sleep our bodies can function at their best. Rest is important for our basic bodily functions. It’s also important for our brains.

    When we’re rested, it’s easier to make healthy decisions about our lifestyles. We have the energy to make dinner instead of heading through the drive-thru and we can add an after dinner walk because we aren’t exhausted by the end of the day. A simple tip to help you get more sleep—try setting an alarm a few minutes before you’d like to be in bed to remind you to start getting ready for bed.

    Sometimes, the simple things can bring the most results. Make simple changes. Involve your kids and start shaping healthy habits early. And most importantly, just get started!

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