What does living a healthier life mean to you?
Making the change to a healthier life can be daunting. One of the things I like the most about being healthier rather than healthy is that to me it means making an effort to include healthier habits not the pressure to have strict exercise and eating habits. For me it's about moving in the right direction, being healthier than I was yesterday. Yes I indulge in sitting on the couch and not always walking everyday, but being healthier is about being kind to myself when these less healthy habits kick in. With this approach it also means I'm also more likely to wake up the next day and be healthier instead of beating myself up for as I see it, being human and not always on the straight and narrow.
There’s no one way to be healthier. It depends on your circumstances. That's also why, whilst I share my personal experiences in the Live Well Health Essentials blog, I always recommend you stay in regular contact with your health care professionals and consult them on what is best for you and your circumstances.
Healthy habits can be as simple as waking up that extra half hour earlier to get a head start on your day which is what I love to do, or reading one chapter of that book you always mean to finish before bed each night.
From little things...
Whilst a healthy lifestyle will look different for everyone, the key to finding what works best for you remains the same - start small, and go from there. Progress is about doing what you can and yes, a certain amount of discipline, but it’s also about giving yourself room to grow. It doesn’t happen overnight. It actually takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. So be kind to yourself and use the ideas below to motivate and support your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
Easy Daily Habits To Implement Every Day
Living a healthier life is about moderation and baby steps. I know from experience that motivation fluctuates day to day, one day you’re ready to cut out all caffeine and sugar and all “bad foods” and the next day you have a caffeine withdrawal headache that sends you running for an espresso and leaves you feeling guilty the rest of the day. It’s a vicious cycle, and trust me, I’ve been there.
So, what can we do to start living a healthier life? Here are some small changes you can implement into your daily routine that can make all the difference, even if you just start with one change a day and go from there.
I know you’ve probably heard it before, and are probably sick of hearing it, but one major element to living a more balanced life is sleep! Your body does the majority of it’s healing and resetting during sleep. Studies show that the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, and adolescents at least 8 to 10 hours. It may sound like a lot, but that difference between 6 hours of sleep and 7 could make all the difference to your energy levels, fatigue and attention throughout the day.
One reason you may be struggling to get enough sleep is the struggle to actually fall asleep, because your mind is still overactive and your body is not relaxed.
A big part of not sleeping well comes from overstimulation as a result of blue light, meaning the late night Netflix binges and scrolling on your phone in bed is making it very hard for your brain to relax enough to fall easily to sleep. Setting aside your phone and devices for the half hour before you get into bed and instead reading a book can make it a lot easier for your body to get to sleep - and if you’re up for it, an hour will make it even easier! But it’s all about the baby steps first.
These sleep ritual habits are just a few I've used for myself and my family:
A simple and easy one to start with. About an hour before bed, make sure you turn off as many lights in the house as possible. If you have dimmers on lights use those too. Darkening the house can help with the production of melatonin a body hormone that naturally makes you sleepy.
Put The Phone Down
I put my phone in airplane mode. You can also put the phone on a charger in a different room.
No More Netflix
Before you freak out at the thought of no more binge sessions on Netflix or your latest favourite streaming service, consider reducing the late night binge sessions to only weekends or even one night a week. It's not about cutting it out completely, remember it's about healthier habits.
Our Live Well Health Essentials Lupin bags are a great way to unwind before bed, helping with tense muscles relax and decompress after the day. I typically pop one in the Microwave for 60 seconds just before I'm ready for bed and it really helps.
You guessed it, another facilitator to a healthier life is, drum roll please, exercise. Now before you scroll down to the next paragraph I want to iterate this does not mean you have to lift weights for an hour a day or run 5 kilometres every morning. Adding some activity to your day is relative to your circumstances and it is why I'm passionate about you talking to your health care professionals that you consult with who know you and your body best.
I'm a big fan of walking for almost anyone's fitness level, it's a great place to start. Going for a walk is a great way to be active, and is flexible enough to fit into a busy schedule.
Walking is a great way as well to get some sun and spend a little time outdoors if you have that option, studies have shown that Vitamin D has multiple health benefits like bone and muscle support as well as immune function. And a little sunshine is always a mood brightener!
Ways to fit Walking in to daily habits:
If you live near where you work, try walking to work. If that is a bit of stretch. Try adding walking to your commute by getting off the bus a stop further away and walking the last 10 minutes.
Exercise the Dog
This is one I'm getting used to as we just welcomed a puppy into our family! What I like about this one is you're so preoccupied with walking the dog, you don't even realise you are walking!
Remember, you don’t have to speed walk or be out of breath at the end of your walk for it to have been beneficial either, just activating and moving your body is enough. The logic I use here is, it's healthier to be off the couch than always on it.
People often neglect stretching as a form of both injury prevention and activity. Not only is stretching a vital step you should take after completing a workout to prevent muscle injury and decrease muscle tension, especially if you’re doing a high impact workout or using weights and help to reduce the lactic acid that makes you wake up in agony the next day.
I've found a great way to increase stretching is yoga.
Yoga is also a quick yet beneficial way to incorporate some exercise into your routine and get the blood flowing. Even 25 minutes of yoga has shown to increase energy levels, lift mood and have meditative effects from the focus on movement. This is a good way to get moving if you’re stuck home or do not have access to a gym or studio, all you really need is some room.
To boost the benefits of stretching, try our Live Well Health Essentials Lumbar With Straps Therapy Bag or Extra Large body Body Hot and Cold Packs and feel the difference the next morning - you’ll be thanking your past self.
Food For Fuel
Are you someone that often skips breakfast as you are “too busy” to eat in the mornings? I know this is something I’m guilty of from time to time, and that’s okay! A healthy lifestyle won’t happen overnight.
Breakfast is usually the first to go in a busy schedule, or is often replaced by a coffee and a takeaway McMuffin because it just seems easier. Here are a couple of quick and healthy breakfasts that you can squeeze into your morning without taking too much time.
Oats For The Win
I set a timer on my phone the night before to prepare the Overnight Oats. It actually has a extra healthier benefit I didn't expect, it starts my bed time routine away from the TV and devices and is kind of relaxing too. It takes less than 5 minutes of a night and in the morning all I need to do is grab a spoon and eat it! Plus if I am running late, it's easy to take with me and eat it in the office.
- ⅓ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup milk of choice
- 1 Handful fruit of choice (i love frozen raspberries)
- 1 tbs protein powder or chia seeds
Simply mix all of the above ingredients together in a jar or sealed container and leave them to sit overnight, then enjoy your ready to go breakfast the next morning! You can always add honey or maple syrup for sweetness as well.
Super Food Yoghurt
I've found Greek yoghurt is a protein packed way to start the day. It fills you up and is naturally higher in protein, calcium and probiotics which support your gut's healthy bacteria than regular yogurt or flavoured yoghurt.
For my go to yoghurt breakfasts, I put the following in a bowl:
- 200 g Greek yoghurt
- 1 banana, chopped
- A dash of honey
You can switch this up with granola or muesli as well, and a great way to add more protein and good fats are a sprinkle of hemp hearts over the top! Whatever you have and enjoy.
Food is something that never fails to connect. Something I love to do when I know a friend is maybe struggling or just in need of a good old fashioned catch up is drop by a little self care package of goodies I baked! Not only does baking make me feel better, a little self care for myself, it’s a lovely way to show a friend or family member you miss them and are thinking of them. This is my go to healthy, protein packed banana bread recipe.
This is a not negotiable feature in my life. What has helped me to be healthier is to limit my caffeine intake. I make a point of having one high quality espresso a day. For me it's not about depriving myself of one of life's luxuries but rather, focus on getting only high quality in my day.
There’s no magic step that will transform your life, and the path to living a healthier lifestyle is different for everyone - the first step is determining what works best for you, and coming up with a plan that’s actually achievable.