People ask me all the time how I learned about eating healthy. The answer is very s-l-o-w-l-y . . . many, many, many baby steps. It has literally taken me years to develop the habits I follow now.
I can remember when my kids were little. My favorite breakfast was a toss-up between donuts and pop tarts. People who know me now would be shocked by that!
Eat healthier. Exercise more. Lose weight. Do this. Don’t do that. We’re bombarded every day with reminders of what we should change or improve in our lifestyle.
But isn’t life hard enough? The last thing we need to deal with is guilt about that cookie we just ate. Or to be ruminating about how we quit going to the gym. Again. Who wants to be motivated by guilt?
No more pressure! Whether we’re overcommitted or just plain unorganized, we often don’t have the time or energy to scrutinize our eating habits or choose the ideal workout plan.
Yes, change is hard. But there is some good news. Professionals who help people make changes in their lives say that beginning with small goals or steps usually lead to bigger payoffs. We don’t have to go through a major transformation in order to improve our overall well-being.
Keep changes small and simple. The key is consistency. Steadfast adherence to little positives is WAY better than making a major change that we can’t maintain in the long run.
Here are 10 baby steps you can practice on a daily basis to improve the way you look and feel:
Step 1. Enjoy a cup of tea.
Green or black, both have proven health benefits. Let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes to get the full benefit.
Step 2. Eat a healthy, high protein breakfast.
Hearty and satisfying, a meal that is high in protein helps fill you up and stays with you throughout the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Eggs, high-protein cereal, and peanut butter are just a few examples. Read the label and aim for 4 grams or more per serving.
Step 3. Laugh out loud.
Research shows that laughing lowers your levels of stress hormones and heightens activity of the body’s natural antibodies. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Step 4. Substitute brown for white.
Whether we’re talking about rice or bread, whole grains are just plain better for you. They provide a package of nutrients that play a key role in reducing risk of disease.
Step 5. Eat 3 prunes.
Sweet with a sticky, chewy texture, prunes are as fun to eat as they are nutritious. Loaded with antioxidants and fiber, these nutrient powerhouses can help increase your vitality.
Step 6. Eat an apple.
Besides being delicious, apples are nutritious and healthy. They’re also very portable and easy to eat. It’s best to eat the skin to get full benefit of this little super food.
Step 7. Stand on one foot.
As we age, our balance skills deteriorate. A simple exercise to improve and maintain our balance is to practice standing on one leg. An easy way to practice is to stand on each leg for 10 seconds while you’re brushing your teeth. Build up to 30 seconds or more.
Step 8. Add an extra veggie.
Okay, we all know we need to squeeze more vegetables into our diet. If you normally eat one vegetable for dinner, just add one more. Or pack a baggie of baby carrots in your lunch for a mid-morning snack.
Step 9. Move more.
Take the stairs. Pace while using the phone. Park far from the store. Walking is safe and easy for people of all ages. By using your creativity, walking more can easily be incorporated into your day.
Step 10. Have a tranquil moment.
Take a minute or two and be still. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, slowly release your tension and just be. Ahhhhhhh! Savor this moment and ease into it. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga are proven to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Don’t push yourself to try all of these baby steps at once. Try one for a week and then add more when you’re ready.
Long-lasting change is most likely to happen when it’s rooted in personal motivation and a positive attitude. Any small effort you make in the right direction is worthwhile. Remember that change is a process, not an event.
As the people on the island of Alumanaya say, “Life is all about finding balance and perspective.” Small, teensy choices that you make as you go about your day can make a positive and lasting difference in your health and longevity.
Trying to live with An Island Perspective includes simple habits, practiced over time, that ultimately lead to a more exhilarated life.
Want to exhilarate your health? Baby steps are all you need.