Maybe you’ve already successfully managed to change your diet and stick with your dietitian-recommended supplements specific to your needs. (Read this blog to read my tips on diet and supplements). Diet and supplements aren’t the only components of good health when you are changing to a healthy lifestyle. We also need to dig deeper and assess how you are doing when it comes to hydration, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness.
Changing to a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming because it often involves massive changes to your habits. I’m here to help make this transition easier because I think that changing to a healthy lifestyle should be simple. And it CAN be simple. That’s why I’m sharing my best tips when it comes to changing to a healthy lifestyle.
I believe that everyone deserves to feel their very best, and we all know that feeling dehydrated doesn’t feel so hot. So let’s start with some hydration tips.
Tips on how to stay hydrated
We have all heard the innumerous ways that drinking water can improve your overall well-being. When expressing concern about a symptom, one of the first questions often asked is “have you been drinking enough water?”
While water may not be the sole solution to your problem, drinking it consistently can improve some symptoms as well as help point your practitioner towards the source of your ailments. Trying to drink water every day can be difficult especially if you are not already in the habit of drinking it. It can feel repetitive and like a drag to constantly force yourself to stop for a drink. Oftentimes you may even forget to drink water and find yourself at the end of your day realizing you have only had a few cups.
Drinking water can be made much more appealing with these super easy and inspiring tricks:
Drink a glass of water before every meal
Sometimes your day can be a little hectic, and drinking enough water is the last thing on your mind. Setting a goal to drink a glass of water with every meal or snack can help you track how much water you have had more easily.
A lot of times your body is thirsty, but this can also register as hunger. Drinking water before your meal can help you realize that you may have been thirsty rather than hungry, which can help with your diet regiment as well.
If those aren’t reasons enough, drinking a glass of water before a meal can aid with digestion while drinking a glass of water after can help absorb nutrients better. This is one of my favorite tips on how to stay hydrated… This hack helps reach two goals at once, an even better reason to incorporate it into your daily routine!
Drink a glass of water with each medication or supplement
Most people need a swig of something to drink to wash down their pills. Why not turn that sip into a whole glass? Many medications and supplements are taken at different times of the day. This means you would be able to get a good amount of water throughout the day, especially if you have multiple things to take.
Getting into the habit of drinking an entire glass of water with your supplements may even help you remember to take them because you may find yourself getting thirsty around this time. It’s a win-win.
Always carry a water bottle with you wherever you go
A lot of times we find ourselves going throughout the day without water, maybe even wishing we had some right about now. Carrying a refillable water bottle when changing to a healthy lifestyle helps to eliminate this problem.
Putting your water bottle in a place where you can see it often reminds you that water is available, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it throughout the day. Make sure to refill it as soon as possible once you have finished the bottle to have it ready to go the next time you get thirsty.
You can also purchase a water bottle that has time markings on it to remind you to consistently drink throughout the day. Another option is to purchase a gallon bottle and make sure to finish that each day.
Hydration is also extremely important if you are staying active (as you should be when changing to a healthy lifestyle). Making sure you have water close by whenever you are working out can even help you finish your workout routine because you aren’t at risk of dehydration. Speaking of exercise, let’s discuss some of my top tips
How to become more active
We all know that exercise is an essential part of healthy living. However, knowing that exercise is important isn’t always enough to adhere to a new exercise regimen.
Here are my top tips for becoming more active:
You aren’t going to become a triathlete overnight, and that is perfectly okay! No one expects you to be. Start off at a level that feels comfortable, and if you begin to experience any sharp pain, stop what you are doing. If you hurt yourself, then it will be even more difficult for you to continue your journey.
Begin by setting small goals that you know you can reach and follow through with. Gradually build on those small goals as you begin to feel more confident and comfortable with your activity over time. This can help prevent an all-or-nothing mentality that many of us are prone to when it comes to workout plans. Setting reasonable goals and progressing slowly is the most sustainable method to becoming more active.
Other small changes you can make include finding ways to increase your total activity throughout each day:
- Park at the far end of the parking lot to get more steps in
- Opt for taking the stairs rather than elevators and escalators
- Every hour during work, take a stretching break or take a lap around your office
- Invest in a standing desk to decrease the number of hours you’re seated
Find the right workout for you
It can feel like there is pressure to go to the gym to exercise and the thought of being surrounded by people in intense training can feel intimidating, especially during the pandemic. To keep exercising, choose an activity that you enjoy, and listen to what makes your body feel good.
Think outside the usual running, swimming, and biking. You may find an activity that you look forward to, including:
- Rock climbing
- Martial arts
Schedule exercise into your day
Our days can get really busy, and sometimes the only thing you want to do at the end of the day is crawl into your bed and get comfortable. Like many other things in your life, you have to make time to exercise, rather than leave it as a thing you plan on getting done at some point in a day.
Find a time where you can clear your schedule and focus on your activity. Plan workouts for a time when you have the most energy. Invite other people to make it a social event. Make your activity a part of your day rather than an afterthought. Make it something you can look forward to.
Some people prefer working out later in the evening, perhaps due to their work schedule or sleep schedule. But did you know that working out too late in the day can make it more difficult to sleep due to increased cortisol? Exercise is important, but you can also put more stress on the body if you aren’t getting enough quality sleep. Finding a balance is key, and that can take some time, so don’t be so hard on yourself if you are early in your journey. When changing to a healthy lifestyle, we need to account for all of these aspects.
Sleep is another essential thing to focus on when changing to a healthy lifestyle, so let’s dive in for some tips on optimizing sleep.
How to optimize sleep
Sleep is also essential for health, but many people don’t prioritize it. Some people believe that operating on just a few hours of sleep each night is perfectly fine, but this can be detrimental over time.
Here are my top tips about optimizing your sleep:
Try relaxation techniques to reduce stress and anxiety
We have all had nights where we are in bed ready to go to sleep, but the day’s events just keep rolling around in our heads. Stress has been shown to make it much harder to sleep, and sleep deeply. Avoid anything that may cause stress before going to bed. This can include avoiding anxiety-provoking activities like watching the news or checking financial reports or stock markets.
Incorporate stress management and relaxation techniques, such as:
- Accepting imperfection
- Balancing time between work and rest
- Maintaining a balanced diet
- Engaging in physical activities, at least 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week
- Communicating emotions and concerns
- Utilizing body relaxation exercises such as mindful breathing
- Use blue light blocker glasses, especially after the sun sets
- Take Epsom salt baths
Maintain a regular sleep schedule
Insomnia and poor sleep often point to an irregular sleep schedule. Having a bedtime routine can be helpful in winding down for a night of restful sleep. Having consistent bedtimes and wake times can help reset your body’s internal clock to be able to sleep.
About 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep is the recommended amount daily. Begin your bedtime routine 30 minutes before getting in bed; a relaxing routine can include light stretching, meditation, and/or taking an Epsom salt bath or hot shower.
After having an irregular sleep schedule you may find yourself getting tired during the day. Daytime naps can make it really hard to fall asleep later, which will establish a broken pattern of sleep. This can lead to sleep deprivation and insomnia, so try not to nap throughout the day, especially in the late afternoon or evening. If you really need to nap, try and limit it to 45 minutes at most so that you will be able to get deeper, more consistent, and restful sleep at night.
Making sure your environment puts you in a sleepy mood
Using screens should be avoided as much as possible when getting ready to go to sleep. The light from screens signals the brain to be in a more wakeful state and inhibits melatonin secretion, which makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. I know many of us are guilty of this, but try not to take your phone into the bed to remove the temptation.
Also, minimize other distractions by creating a dark and quiet environment right before bed. This can include getting blackout curtains and unplugging anything that may be making too much noise or emitting light.
If possible, adjust your sleeping area to the right temperature range for you. Cooler temperatures are better, so aim for 65 degrees, plus or minus. Consider investing in a good mattress, pillows, and bedding that can support you the best. The goal is to make you as comfortable as possible as you fall asleep.
Strategies to use while falling asleep or staying asleep
If you have tried everything above and you still can’t fall asleep or find yourself waking up during the night, here are some other strategies you can use.
- If you find yourself lying awake in bed for more than 20-30 minutes, leave your bedroom and read. You can also try another relaxation technique.
- If you have woken up because of light, try and cover your eyes with something dark.
- If you woke up because of recurring thoughts, try writing them down to help work out the problem. Being mindful of why you can’t sleep is the key to figuring out how to fix it.
Speaking of mindfulness, that is our last lifestyle change that is essential for better health, so let’s dig in.
Check in with yourself and reassess: Practicing Mindfulness
Checking in with yourself is extremely important while embarking on your journey. Think about the ways your new habits have made you feel, and talk to your physician about any adjustments you think you may need.
Remember to always listen to your body. Make sure to stop every once in a while to think about the progress you have made and congratulate yourself for all that you accomplished. Even if the change seems small, be proud of yourself for committing to it, because it just brings you one step closer to the end goal you are working towards – taking the best care of your body that you can!
Practicing mindfulness can serve as a great tool to help assess how you are doing in your goal as well as help keep you motivated to reach it. Take a moment each day to consider how you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally. This can help you to identify patterns and call attention to your needs.
Here are some questions to ask before, during, and after completing your desired activity:
- What are you doing?
- What are you thinking?
- How are you feeling emotionally?
- How are you feeling physically?
- Where are you?
- What time is it?
- Who is with you?
If you feel as though you are not seeing results, don’t feel discouraged. Building habits takes time, and seeing results takes consistency. Track and celebrate your progress, even the ones that seem really small.
Congratulate yourself for completing a goal on a day where it seemed really hard, and congratulate yourself on the easy ones too. Reward yourself with small incentives each time you reach a milestone because you deserve it!
Some days you may get thrown off and find that you did not reach your goal for that day, and that’s okay too. Life happens. Recognize what set you back and adopt a plan for the next time to avoid that situation.
Go back and remind yourself of the reasons why you started making these changes in the first place. Then you can start the next morning fresh and even more committed to changing to a healthy lifestyle.
I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful and feel ready to tackle changing to a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes we may need a little bit more support when making changes to our lives.
For more and personalized guided assistance, I can help! Schedule your free Nutrition Strategy Call with me today.