Sometimes big changes start with small shifts. Whether you’re trying to eat better, get more active or ward off germs, a healthier you doesn’t have to mean a total lifestyle makeover. We asked our readers which small change has made the biggest impact on their health.
I gave my refrigerator a total makeover.
First I placed fruits and veggies inside clear containers and put them, along with yogurt and salad fixings, on a shelf at eye level. Now when I open the door, those options grab my attention. I also threw out any takeout containers, because they only encouraged me to eat more takeout. As a result of this new system, I unconsciously make healthier choices, and it has helped to lower my blood pressure.
Taking brisk walks around my office-building complex
About a year ago, instead of reading during my 15-minute break at work, I started taking brisk walks around my office-building complex. After a couple of months, I was so surprised at how my body shape had changed with that small amount of exercise. My midsection had slimmed down, and my legs were more toned. Now I feel more energetic throughout the day and sleep better at night.
My therapist suggested deep breathing as a tool to manage stress. I teach eighth-grade math, and my stress level is pretty high on some days. I breathe in to a slow count of five, hold for a slow count of five, then slowly release to a count of five. This instantly calms me down and keeps me centered. Think of it as a three-minute break that you can take anytime, anywhere.
There are tons of sweets and fatty snacks within arm’s reach at my office, so I fell into the habit of grabbing a bag of chips or cookies in the late morning and afternoon. Early this year, I began bringing healthy bites (like mandarin oranges, nuts, and granola) to work.Since I’ve cut all those refined sugars and empty calories out of my diet, I no longer experience a late-afternoon slump.
Ihas improved my flexibility and made the aches and pains in my back, neck, and shoulders subside. I spent most of my life believing that cardio was the key to a lean, healthy body and that lifting would only make me appear bulkier. Yet now I look and feel better than ever.
My family and I order all our groceries online. When shopping in the supermarket, I’m more likely to make impulse purchases. (Who can say no to “buy one, get one free” boxes of cookies? I certainly can’t.) It’s much easier for me to resist temptations online. We eat healthier and spend less money to boot.
I’ve struggled with weight issues my whole life, so a few months ago I adopted my 10-year-old daughter’s daily exercise routine: 40 situps and 20 push-ups. While she does it at night for her gymnastics class, I do it within the first 10 minutes of waking up. Not only do I feel stronger but the activity also puts me in a better mood and encourages me to make good choices throughout the day.
In the past, I would drink coffee while getting ready for work, yet I still felt tired. So my fitness instructor advised me to drink water in the morning before my usual cup of joe. He said that this would get my metabolism going and wake me up. Since I’ve begun guzzling water and waiting until the midmorning slump to drink coffee, I’ve felt refreshed and energized.
Lighter morning meals
When I gobbled down decadent breakfasts in the morning, like an egg and cheese on a bagel, I felt lethargic at work. Daily tasks, like sending e-mails and preparing for meetings, required more effort. By eating lighter morning meals, like a dairy-free smoothie or oatmeal with fruit, I have more energy in the morning and that lasts all day.
Track your food
Pay closer attention to what you eat
Wash your hands
Sit up straight
Eat dark chocolate
Read the labels
Wake up earlier