Changing to a Healthy Lifestyle – Start with 5 Easy Steps

Changing to a healthy lifestyle – start with 5 easy steps

Let’s start with the truth: changing to a healthier lifestyle is one of the best decisions you can make. Regardless of your age, your weight, and your genes, there’s no denying of the health benefits of a balanced diet and physical exercise.

For many of us, the hardest part is getting started, as the switch to a healthy lifestyle may feel overwhelming. The good news is that this change can, and should start with small steps, that grow into habit, and in this way have a big impact on your health, for the rest of your life.

Here are 5 easy tips to help you get started:

1. Start paying attention to your diet. To be able to make a change, you first need to acknowledge what parts of your diet are good, and what elements you should try to reduce or eliminate completely. What is your eating routine? Do you tend to overeat or snack unhealthy options at certain hours? Are you feeling constantly hungry? How do the different foods make you feel?

Recognizing patterns and learning about your eating habits is the key to changing the bad habits and turning them into good ones, which end up creating the core of a healthy lifestyle. Food is supposed to make you and your body feel good – in the short and long term.

2. Variety & modesty – two key rules of a healthy lifestyle. Fell in love with avocados, nuts or fresh fruit? Great! However, remember to eat in moderation – even if it’s something healthy. Avocados are full of vitamins B, C, E, K, and a good source of fiber. Including avocados in your diet will improve your diet, but overdoing it won’t add more benefits.In fact, avocados have a high fat level, so too much of them easily increases your calorie intake.

Explore, try new things, vary your menu, and get excited about new foods and recipes. Food, as a part of a healthy lifestyle, is supposed to bring you joy, excitement and good feelings.

3. Add simple exercise to your daily schedule. Often, we start exercising, but after a short time it ends. Busy schedules, TV shows, sudden illnesses, and other priorities come in the way. Getting back to your exercise routine is not easy, and starting from scratch is even harder. That’s why it’s better to start with small steps, by adding exercise to your daily routines in natural ways. Choose walking or biking over driving your car or using the public transportation whenever possible. If you use the public transportation, get off at the previous stop from your final destination, and walk for the rest of the trip instead. Park your car to the furthest corner of the parking lot, on purpose. And of course, always prefer stairs instead of elevator.

Starting to see a pattern? Yes! It’s called habit. In the beginning all these minor modifications might seem annoying and time-consuming, but sooner than you realize they’ve become habits, which are critical in the change you are taking towards a healthier lifestyle.

4. Sleep enough. Sounds obvious? Sure, but still many of us are sleep-deprived and suffer from many side-effects. Sleep is a critical recovery and rest time for your body and brain. Research also shows that sleep is as important as diet and exercise and therefore should not be overlooked. How much sleep is needed varies between people, but a minimum of 6-7 hours and an optimal 7-9 hours is recommended for adults.

If you’re having difficulties falling asleep, start preparing your body and mind for the rest every night early enough. Learn what makes you calm down, and try to avoid using your phone and other devices late at night. Also, look for ways to minimize distractions during the night, so that you would enjoy a continuous sleep. Last, start exercising on a regular basis. Research shows that people who do exercise regularly and on a daily basis have better quality of sleep than others.

5. Quit smoking. If you’re still smoking, quitting it might be the single most important action you can take to improve your lifestyle – and your lifespan. Scientific research shows that smokers live at least 10 years less compared to non-smokers. Also, smokers (men and women) are 12-23 times more likely to die from cancer (e.g., lung and trachea) and respiratory diseases (e.g., pneumonia and bronchitis), and have increased risk to die from cardiovascular diseases as well. Not enough to convince you? Quitting smoking also improves your ability to taste, which adds pleasure to eating, saves you tons of money, and might also improve your relationships.


Credit: Niina Reponen

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