Adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn't happen overnight. You might eat a handful of veggies one week and exercise the next, but you're not setting yourself up for long-term success. Start with these basic tips, and use them as a foundation for your healthy lifestyle. Most of them seem small, but they add up to reveal significant results.
Don't Downplay the Negative Effects of Soda
People with a "Diet Coke addiction" often justify the craving by saying that it’s healthier than regular Coke or that it has fewer calories. While this is true, it's still not a healthful option. Challenge yourself to cut back on your soda or diet soda intake, and replace it with water. There are multiple resources out there to calculate how much sugar and caffeine are in different drinks, so check before you sip.
On top of calories, soda causes tooth decay, dehydration and sleep problems. If you're tired of articles telling you to stop drinking soda because of the sugar, then do it for your teeth or sleep.
Speaking of Teeth, Go to the Dentist
Are you nervous about going to the dentist in case he or she finds a cavity? What about multiple cavities? You might not be that nervous if you regularly get six-month check-ups. Your dentist will tell you what you're doing wrong, from not flossing to brushing too hard. It's better to go and have a dentist catch something early than have to endure a root canal.
Along with the dentist, don't shy away from your regular check-ups either. If your doctor knows you, he or she can spot any bodily changes that could be a sign of something worse. He or she will also be able to offer advice about diet and exercise.
Start Small with Exercise and Work Up
There's been a new trend in gyms to reduce pressure and judgment and to make people feel good about themselves no matter their shape. While this is great, some people are still nervous to try it out or invest in the money of a full gym membership.
Start small with the goal of getting in better shape rather than losing weight. Take a walk around the block at night to get the blood flowing or do a round of lunges in your bedroom before going to work. The key is to get your body used to daily activity. Once you're in a routine, start turning it up. Soon you'll be looking forward to your daily exercise challenges.
Image courtesy Flickr/epSos.de
Clean Up Your Diet
Eating better is one of the biggest challenges for people trying to get healthy. Food provides comfort or convenience, and no one wants to give those up by cooking healthful meals. Like exercise and diet soda, you can get healthier just by changing a couple of elements each week. Cut back on the number of times you eat out to just once a week; that way, eating out will be a treat.
Also, consider choosing organic vegetables over the regular kind to cut back on the chemicals found on other options. If you're worried that eating right will get expensive, don't worry: there are plenty of way to save. For example, sort through Valpak coupons before you go to the store to see what you can save.
Get on a Normal Sleep Schedule
This can be challenging for those who work late into the night. However, if you find yourself watching Netflix until 2 a.m. and are still getting up at 6 a.m., then you could be hurting your health in multiple ways.
On top of a decreased sex drive and increased risk of heart disease, a lack of sleep also makes you less alert and increases your risk of getting into an accident. There are an estimated 100,000 auto accidents and 1,550 crash-related deaths each year due to fatigue. Plus, a lack of a good night's sleep leads to other unhealthy habits such as increased caffeine intake and opting for fast food instead of cooking. Getting eight hours a night or increasing your hours asleep by one or two nightly can go a long way toward building healthier habits.
Whatever you do to get healthier, do it for the right reasons. Make sure that you want to be healthier for a better you, not just trying to look like the catalog models.
Miles Young is a freelance writer, designer and outdoorsman. He’s worked as a roof contractor and part-time engine mechanic. He spends his free time fishing and tinkering in his garage. You can follow him on Twitter @MrMilesYoung.