It’s important that we talk about small changes for a healthier lifestyle, because the small, simple, and “plain” stuff is the stuff that works but doesn’t get any attention.
Despite the lack of attention and fame, it’s the plain stuff that makes the biggest difference. So, what is the plain stuff?
It’s not any assortment of pills or potions. It’s not a machine that sucks fat off. It’s not a supplement that promises to transform your body overnight.
In fact, it’s a collection of actions. Nothing flashy. Just small changes. Here they are.
SMALL CHANGE #1: A NIGHTLY ROUTINE
We have put a lot of hope and faith into morning routines. Books are written about it, promising that changing the way you spend your first waking minutes can change your life, happiness, and income.
Morning routines have all the fame and attention. But what about nightly routines?
As you likely know, getting good quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. It’s one of the best things you can do to reach your fat loss or muscle building goals, too. Sleep helps regulate hormones. It gives your brain the chance to be clear and process things well. It is an essential function of your body.
Despite how important it is, less and less people are getting good, quality sleep.
Why is that?
Many people don’t have a nightly routine.
Our bodies are designed to be in sync with the rising and setting of the sun. The sun rises, we rise. The sun goes down, we go down.
Yet, we don’t. So how can we?
Getting off of electronics a couple hours before bed is a great way to put your body in a state that is ready for sleep. You can dim the lights in your house or turn them off as well. It may not be the most realistic to do this every night, which is understandable. It’s great to watch some TV and unwind. And if that’s the case for you, a pair of blue light blocking glasses can help keep stimulating light from getting the best of your sleep.
Eating no later than two hours before bed can help as well. This has nothing to do with the crazy notion that eating late makes you gain fat, but rather, eating too close to bed is shown to have a negative impact on your sleep.
Making your room a cool, dark cave can help as well. Generally speaking, we sleep better in cool environments.
Making small changes in the last couple of hours before bed can drastically improve your sleep and lead to better overall health.
SMALL CHANGE #2: REDUCE HIGHLY PROCESSED FOODS
Everyone wants to know exactly what food to eat and how much of it so they can have an easier time making decisions that will improve their health. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works, as every individual is different, and the context of each person’s situation plays a role in what is best.
However, there are general statements that we can make that apply for everyone and their nutrition. One of them is this: it is far better to have a majority of your food come from whole natural foods rather than highly processed foods.
Does this mean that highly processed foods should be avoided at all costs? No. That’s not realistic or fun at all.
But, we do know that highly processed foods in excess can lead to poor health.
So, instead of trying to find the perfect macronutrient ratio, or the diet that you think will finally work for you, work on including more whole natural food into your diet. As you do that, the highly processed foods will show themselves out.
Any easy way to do this is by asking one question as you’re about to eat. Think about what you’re about to put on your plate and ask, how can I make this a little bit better? For some, that may mean swapping out the coke for water. For others that may mean swapping out the fries for a salad.
I must be clear. No food is inherently bad. Do not take this as a call to eat “clean” 24/7 and forbid yourself of enjoying a little junk food here and there. Simply take this as a call to action to assess your diet, and see what you can do to make it a little bit better by incorporating whole natural foods more often than highly processed foods.
SMALL CHANGE #3: MORE STEPS
A lot of people are desperately searching for the perfect workout program or the perfect diet to help them see the change they’ve always dreamed of.
I’ve got news for you. The change you’re looking for doesn’t lie in that diet your neighbor is doing, or the program that the fit person on Instagram is selling. The change you’re looking for lies in your choices.
And one of the best choices you can make to improve your health is to make your day more active. Spending the perfect hour in the gym won’t do too much if you’re completely sedentary in the other hours of your day.
Small increases in your steps go a long way. Don’t worry about hitting the “magical” 10,000 steps per day. Just do a little bit more than what you’re used to.
If you get an average of 4,000 steps per day, shoot for 4,500 steps. Once that’s a habit, shoot for 5,000. Increase from there.
Anybody can make a change. But those that make lasting change are those that take the time to turn those changes into habits. Find one or two small changes that you want to make, and turn them into habits. Then repeat. Do that over and over with your activity, sleep, and nutrition and you will see a drastic change for the better. And there are your small changes for a healthier lifestyle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam is a fitness professional, baseball fan, and cookie fanatic based in Fort Collins, Colorado. After hanging up the cleats, he found a strong interest in the human body and how it performs. Since then, Adam has been transforming lives through fitness in a fun and encouraging atmosphere. As an ACE CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, he is constantly moved to help people improve in all walks of life.