We all want to be as healthy as we can be, but why does it have to feel like it takes so much work? Hyper-restrictive diets that require you to source special ingredients from Nepal or train for a marathon — that’s never going to happen when you have a job and kids to shuttle around.
Luckily, not all lifestyle upgrades take a ton of time or involve supreme self-sacrifice. You can make plenty of healthy changes by tweaking a few habits around the edges. Let’s get started:
1. Stash healthy snacks for your weak moments.
If you find yourself losing steam and reaching for the junk food in the middle of the afternoon, set yourself up for success by keeping your office fridge stocked with fruits and veggies to eat instead. If your commute is your weak spot, try keep mixed nuts or healthy granola in your glove box.
2. Eating out? Save half for the doggie bag.
Restaurant portion sizes are out of control, and if you polish off the whole plate, you’ll almost certainly get more than your daily allotment of calories. Get in the habit of setting half of that entrée aside to pack up for leftovers before you even start eating, and you’ll consume less while picking up a delicious lunch for the next day.
3. Exercise at work.
About 64 percent of American adults are considered to be obese, and no one is so lazy that they can afford to ignore the health risks. Use your coffee break to take a walk or do some stretching at your desk. Even little bursts of activity can boost your productivity and improve your overall health.
4. Park and walk.
If you live in the suburbs and rely heavily on your car to get you everywhere, make a commitment to parking as far away from your destination as possible. You’ll avoid maddening parking lot competition at the mall and get a whole lot closer to those 10,000 daily steps you should be taking.
5. Keep water with you.
Think it’s impossible to drink the recommended eight glasses of water each day? It’s much easier if you keep a refillable bottle of water on your desk at all times. You’ll find that taking a sip makes for a pretty healthy mini-procrastination technique, and your increased trips to the bathroom will give you a change of scenery when you’re bored at work.
6. Try a desktop meditation.
Think you don’t have time to devote to mindfulness meditation? There’s an app for that. All it takes is a minute or two of downtime to focus on your breathing to reset and reduce your stress — general wellness is important for good health, too!
7. Commit to meatless Mondays.
If you’re not too irritated by seeing #meatlessmondays on your social media feeds, give it a try — you don’t have to post pictures of every meal to partake. Setting aside a day to reduce your meat intake will help you cut down on calories, saturated fat, and other nutritional baddies. You might also find some favorite new — and lighter — vegetarian recipes to put into heavy rotation on non-Mondays, too.
8. Take a multivitamin.
If you’re worried that your diet isn’t the greatest, you can fill in some of your nutritional potholes by taking a vitamin each morning. No need to go crazy with the supplements: A basic multivitamin has everything you need in one easy dose.
9. Turn TV time into exercise time.
Instead of sitting still in front of the TV (or laptop or tablet), roll out that yoga mat and start stretching instead. It’s also a great time to do crunches or pull out those dusty hand weights, too. The more you stay in motion, the better your health will be — and you can claim some major multitasking street cred to boot.
10. Go to bed.
Sleep deprivation is no joke: It’s bad for your heart, causes you to gain weight, and is connected to all kinds of chronic illnesses and muscle pain. If you have to, set the timer on your phone to remind you of your bedtime. Once you start getting seven to eight hours each night, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without proper rest.
All these little things can really add up, so choose one or two new habits to work on for starters — you can always add more later. If you choose a few to put a few of these in place right now, you’ll be on your way to a healthier new you in no time.