I wrote this blog post as part of a movement by Weight Watchers to encourage people to remember that loving yourself starts with taking care of your health everyday. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.
Last fall I had a health issue that prevented my from exercising for 4 months. I lost muscle and gained weight. After I recovered and was ready to start getting back in shape I decided that I didn’t just want to form a plan to lose the weight I gained, I wanted to form new healthier habits that I could maintain for the rest of my life.
I decided to make a list of the habits I wanted to change and then develop a plan to tackle them one by one, replacing each bad habit with a new healthy one. I knew to be successful, I needed to make small measurable changes that I could track until they became a habit. I also gave myself room to tinker with the changes I wanted to make until I found something that worked for me.
One of the most interesting discoveries I made when making these small changes is how empowering it is to successfully form a new habit. With each small success, I feel more confident to continue with my goals towards a healthier lifestyle. On Valentine’s Day, I made a commitment to exercise of every day for the rest of the month, but I have been enjoying it so much that I plan to make daily exercise a part of my regular daily routine.
10 Small Changes for a Simple Start to a Healthier Lifestyle
1. Drink more water. I gave up all soda pop, even diet soda. I found soda increased my cravings for sweet and salty foods and caused me to overeat. When I am thirsty, I now grab a glass of ice-water.
2. Get more sleep. At first I resolved to wake up earlier, but then I realized I was short changing myself sleep and I was dragging throughout the day. I changed my resolution to go to bed earlier and found that in addition to getting more sleep, it is easier to wake up earlier.
3. Eat breakfast. I have a bad habit of skipping breakfast. Then I get involved in tasks, letting myself get so hungry that I make bad food choices as I grab the first thing I find. I have created a list of fast and easy breakfasts that I can prepare in less than 5 minutes like oatmeal or a smoothie to help make it easier to eat breakfast even on busy mornings.
4. Prepare healthier snacks. Having healthy snacks prepared in advance makes it so much easier to make smart decisions when the afternoon munchies hit. I have my fridge loaded with washed fruit and cut vegetables as well as low-point dips like hummus.
5. Build more activity into daily schedule. There are lots of ways to build more activity in your day: park further from the door at the store, take the stairs, join your kids in a game of tag. I turn on upbeat music when I clean, so I move at a faster pace. I also turn on music when cooking dinner and turn meal prep into a dance party with my kids.
6. Make Healthy meal plans. It is so much easier to eat healthy, when you have a real action plan to follow. Weight Watchers has a Simple Start App that gives 2 weeks of recipes to make it easy for you to start making healthy meal plans.
7. Take vitamins and minerals. After doing blood work, my doctor advised me to take calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D. It is easy to forget, so I placed my vitamins in a strategic place and have made taking them part of my morning routine.
8. Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I thought this would be hard, but on the mornings when I have a spinach-berry smoothie (recipe below), I knock out 3 servings of fruits and veggies in one meal! I often serve 2 different vegetables with dinner rather than a starch and a vegetable. Snacking on fruits and vegetables and having a salad for lunch has made this an easy goal to accomplish.
9. Get exercise in daily. I decided I want to run in a 5k. For Valentine’s Day I asked my husband to fix up a treadmill that I found at a thrift store, so that I can exercise indoors. I have committed to running or walking on it each day. I picked a time in the morning and a time in the evening when someone is home to watch my youngest son so I can exercise in peace. I enlisted the cooperation of my husband and older kids, so I could make my goal a reality. If you don’t have a treadmill, you can find exercise videos on YouTube, DVD, or do these exercises that you can easily do at home.
10. Take some me time. As a mom, this is hard for me to do! I am using both my time on the treadmill to read a fun book and I am spending time taking care of my nails twice a week to get a little quality time alone.
- 4 oz. yogurt (I often use berry flavored yogurt)
- 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
- 2 cups frozen berries (I use a mix of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries)
- 4 oz. juice (I often use cranberry-blueberry juice)
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend on high until thoroughly mixed. If the blender get stuck, turn it off and use a spoon to mix up the ingredients. Place the lid back on and blend some more.
4 Weight Watcher's points+
Small changes add up! What small changes are you making?