You’ve decided you want to clean up your health. You want to get it under control so you don’t have to worry about all the consequences that not taking care of your health can bring on.
But you don’t know where to start.
There is so much information out there. So many diet plans, “detoxes,” “cleanses,” fitness memberships, wellness retreats, mindset courses…..the list goes on.
But really, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Healthy living comes down to 3 things:
Sleep, diet, and exercise make up the foundation of your health. These are the 3 things that you can take control of and optimize in your daily life, without having to go to any extreme lengths.
Let’s take a look at how you can work on these 3 main aspects of your health and optimize them with some simple daily habits.
How to Kickstart Your Health Journey in 3 Steps:
Sleep is extremely important for all aspects of health. It allows your body and mind to function properly, to heal, and to grow.
From cognitive ability, to mental health, to immunity, to weight, to physical performance, to disease prevention — everything is better with proper sleep.
7-8 hours of quality sleep a night seems to be the sweet spot. Fewer or greater hours can negatively impact your health.
Establishing a consistent sleep schedule also sets you up for a productive day and helps you get the other aspects of your health under control.
If you want your body to operate properly, you need to give it proper fuel.
When it comes to diet, forget extreme diet plans – they usually don’t work and just make you miserable.
Instead, opt for a balanced diet of nutrient-dense, whole foods.
Whole foods are foods that have not been processed, refined, or had extra ingredients added to them. Examples include:
- whole grains
(…basically, things that look like what they came out of nature looking like).
Whole foods are great because they are nutrient-dense. Something like a plain old apple is going to provide you with a lot more nutrition than say, manufactured apple juice, which has less fibre, fewer vitamins and minerals, and a whole lot of added sugar.
While the optimal diet may look different for different people (given how vastly different the responses to food can be among people), a good place to start is taking it back to the basics of whole foods, and reducing your sugar and processed food intake.
Cutting down on sugar is never not a good idea. Excess sugar consumption can contribute to all sorts of health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Most of us are consuming way more sugar than we should, and we’d all be better off if we cut back.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not one to say no sweets and desserts should be allowed ever (because let’s be honest, sugar is delicious). But pick your battles. Don’t waste sugar on foods that aren’t that delicious, like a lot of processed foods that have way too much added sugar.
If you can’t cut out refined sugar completely, at least reduce it by cutting it out of foods that sugar has no business being in. (Check out this post for more tips on how to cut down on sugar).
A balanced, nutritious diet also naturally helps prevent deficiencies by covering your nutrient requirements.
The quickest way to drastically improve your health may be to identify and fix a nutrient deficiency you didn’t know you had. For example, something like iron deficiency is quite common and can really bring down your everyday health and wellbeing. It is an incredibly simple fix (iron supplements or eating more iron-rich foods) that can improve your quality of life dramatically.
For most common chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, exercise is pretty much always recommended as a way to help reduce your risk or manage the disease.
The general recommendation for adults is at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
Certain jobs and lifestyles definitely make it easier to incorporate exercise into them, but even for those with desk jobs, all that is needed is to exercise at least a little every day.
And it doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be as simple as a nice, relaxing, 20-minute walk to clear your head at lunch break.
The key to making exercise (and diet and sleep) easy, is to implement small and simple changes into your everyday routine.
It doesn’t have to be this whole “big thing”. When you try to make big life overhauls, you tend to crash and burn.
Instead, it’s a healthier lifestyle that you’re aiming for. So it’s the basic, mundane routines in life that you are aiming to improve.
Intense health and fitness programs can definitely get you motivated (in the beginning at least), but in order for healthy living to be sustainable, you need to make sure you are implementing the small (but powerful!) routine changes.
If you need some ideas to get going, here are some simple habits (that cost nothing and require minimal effort) to try out to see if any of them work for you:
7 Quick and Easy Healthy Habits (to Implement in Your Daily Routine)
1. Keep a water bottle on hand
With this simple habit, you will end up drinking waaay more water every day.
Staying hydrated has all sorts of health benefits – it keeps your body energized and working properly, keeps you feeling more full, and is important for healthy skin, digestion, and more.
You’ll also be less likely to go for pop and other sugary drinks, and unhealthy snacks.
2. Meal prep
A lot of people swear by meal prepping and there are plenty of hard-core meal-preppers out there, which makes it easy to find tons of healthy ideas and meal plans.
Meal prepping requires some planning ahead, but can save you a lot of time and stress. Just allocate one day to planning and prepping for the week, and you’ll thank yourself all throughout the week.
Keep it simple with whole foods – you can make a lot of different meals with few ingredients.
Meal prepping is a great way to make sure your meals are well thought-out, balanced, and healthy. It’s when we’re in a rush or there’s no food in the fridge that we tend to grab unhealthy foods.
3. Eat healthy snacks
This is similar to the last tip, but I want to emphasize snacks specifically.
Even if you can’t always meal prep, having some handy go-to snacks is a great idea because snacking tends to be the way we put a lot of crappy food in our bodies.
Snacks tend to be sugary and highly-processed foods. The high sugar content gives us the energy spike we are often craving as we look for a snack, and makes it hard to stop eating.
A better option is to plan out some simple, healthy snacks to keep on hand. Nutrient-dense snacks are best because they keep you satisfied without overeating, and provide the proper nourishment that food is supposed to.
Try fresh fruit, raw veggies, nuts, and seeds. To spice them up, add things like cinnamon or other spices, and if you really need some added sweetness, try natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
4. Intermittent fast
Intermittent fasting is when you only eat during a specific time. This doesn’t mean you have to go hungry; it just means you start and stop eating at a certain times.
Nowadays, most people have busy schedules that have them waking up early and going to bed late. This leads to the tendency to snack into the night, and allow only a few hours for the body to fully rest and digest.
The typical intermittent fasting schedule is to eat within 8 hours and fast for the remaining 16 hours each day.
Studies show that intermittent fasting can be beneficial for cognition, physical performance, obesity, diabetes, heart health, and more (1).
5. Go for a walk every day
It doesn’t take too much added effort to get in a few minutes of walking every day.
Go for a quick walk around the block in the morning to start off your day with a boost of energy, or in the evening to relax and burn off a bit of dinner before bed.
Additionally, you can get more steps in by taking the stairs, walking to your bus stop, getting up from your desk to walk around/stretch every so often, etc.
6. Do a quick home workout video
No need for gym memberships to turn your fitness around. Just pull up a free workout video.
There are so many fitness gurus providing free workout content on Youtube. Find an instructor or workout that you like, or keep mixing it up and try out different workouts.
This can literally be just 10 minutes out of your day. Do a quick calorie burner to get your blood pumping, or target one muscle group each day, or work on your flexibility with stretching and yoga. No fancy equipment required.
A little bit of daily movement can help reduce risk of injury and strengthen your bones and joints so you can handle daily tasks better. You’ll also get some nice feel-good endorphins and energy to improve your day.
7. Do one stress-free, relaxing activity every day
Last but certainly not least, work on managing the daily stressors in your life.
Often, stress is out of our control, but taking steps to manage daily stress can help prevent chronic stress.
Daily stress-relieving activities can be as simple as doing a hobby, going for a walk, watching your favourite TV show, reading before bed, etc.
Also, proper sleep, diet, and exercise are all great ways to help manage chronic stress. By focusing on getting these 3 things under control, you will automatically help reduce your stress at the same time.
Improve your health by focusing on sleep, diet, and exercise. For lasting results with minimal effort, implement simple healthy habits into your daily routine.
I hope you found this article on improving your health helpful. If you liked this article, or have any questions, be sure to comment below!