20 Micro-Habits For Getting Healthy Without Even Realizing It
If you’re being honest with yourself, you probably have some room for improvement when it comes to making healthy life choices.
Maybe it’s too little exercise. Or too many drinks after work. Or not getting enough sleep. Maybe it’s just a matter of too much to do and not enough hours in the day.
But no matter what it is that’s causing a drain on your health, you probably get some sense that things need to change.
So obviously that means it’s time to make a sweeping overhaul of your life, right? Rip off the bandaid, go cold-turkey, and live out the rest of your days as a vegan, meditating, yogi — contemplating the meaning of life without stress, pressure, or any worldly possessions?
Look, if that’s the route you want to take, more power to you. But it might be a little extreme for the rest of us.
Thankfully, you have other options.
Believe it or not, getting healthy doesn’t require some life-altering epiphany moment.
In the real world, small steps can add up to big changes over time. In fact, making small, sustainable changes might actually help you build the momentum you need to make those healthy habits stick for good.
The items on this list don’t require complicated programs, hours of food prep, or weeks of commitment. We’re talking super simple things you can do —
cleaning up one meal a week, sneaking in some extra movement, creating a bedtime routine — that are so small, you might not even notice how you’re changing for the better.
1. Clean out your fridge and pantry.
Clutter can be a real barrier to progress, especially when it comes to making healthy food choices. You never know when those sneaky trigger foods are going to pop out of nowhere and throw you off track. Get organized so you know exactly what you’re working with.
2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
Have you ever noticed that all the whole-food choices at the grocery store are on the perimeter? Instead of weaving up and down the middle aisles, make a point to choose the bulk of your groceries from the outside loop first, then fill in the gaps as necessary.
3. Track your meals every few weeks.
You don’t have to track your meals 100% of the time to make this work for you. By making a point to track your meals for a few days at a time, every few weeks, you’ll get a chance to check-in and make sure your calories are in a good range, you’re eating enough protein, or you haven’t developed any bad habits that need breaking.
4. Eat one, 100% non-processed, whole food meal a week.
Commit to filling up once a week with a meal that is non-processed from start to finish. Then build from there.
5. Making a healthy recipe? Prep enough for leftovers.
Anytime you make a healthy recipe, make enough for two meals (or more). Not only will you have healthy options on hand, but you’ll be making your lunches or dinners a no-hassle affair. It’s a win-win!
6. Add a banana to your breakfast routine.
Bananas are a quick, easy, convenient addition to your breakfast menu. Plus, they’re full of fiber and stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. You’ll be giving yourself a leg-up before your day even gets going.
7. Set aside portions of restaurant food before you eat and ask for a to-go container right away.
Eating is as much about your eyes as your stomach. Cut that giant burger in half, pack it up, and it's likely that you won't even know what you’re missing. You’ll be getting portion control and tomorrow’s lunch prep done in one simple step.
8. Meet for coffee instead of drinks.
Not only do the calories in a few cocktails quickly add up, but a night of drinking often leads to snacks, apps, or a next-day hangover binge. Try meeting your friends for coffee instead — you’ll get to spend quality time with fewer temptations.
9. Swap unhealthy restaurant sides for a salad, fruit, or veggies every other time you go out.
You don’t have to swear off the fries for good, but make a deal with yourself that you’re only going to indulge every other time (or fewer) that you eat out. Not only will you reap the benefits of healthier choices, but those fries will taste even better when you finally treat yourself.
10. Read the labels!
Don’t assume those “low-fat”, “low-carb”, “gluten-free” whatevers (or anything else) will automatically help you meet your goals. Get into the habit of reading labels so you know what’s going into your body and can make the most informed choices possible.
11. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Establishing a consistent pattern of waking and sleeping helps your body develop a healthy circadian rhythm. But this cycle isn’t just about when it's time to be awake and when it's time for bed — it’s also responsible for regulating your hunger cycles, metabolism, and hormone production.
12. And while you’re at it, set your bedroom temp cooler at night.
A cool room helps you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake less often during the night. It doesn’t stop there, though. Cooler temps also help stimulate your metabolism — your body burns more calories to help keep you warm.
13. Practice mindful breathing.
Connecting your mind and your breath is a powerful exercise. It doesn’t have to be a full meditation (if that’s not your thing), but consciously taking 5-10 deliberate, mindful breaths throughout your day can help you recenter and keep your mental health in check.
14. Take the stairs.
It might not seem like much, but putting in a little extra effort to get yourself where you need to go can definitely add up over time.
15. Set a reminder to get up and move.
Sitting in front of a computer for hours can wreak havoc on your body. Get up and get the blood flowing at certain intervals throughout the day — even if it's just a lap around your office. Your body will thank you.
16. Find a walking buddy.
Walking is a low-impact, high-return exercise. Its great for burning fat, clearing your mind, and getting yourself out the house for a while. And doing it with a friend can make your workout fly by in a snap.
17. Treat yourself to a new water bottle (and fill it often).
Sometimes all you need to spark a healthy habit is some new swag. Grab yourself a fancy new water bottle, make a point to keep it filled, and hit your daily water goal with ease.
18. Park at the back of the lot (or top of the garage).
Like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, this is a great way to sneak some extra movement into your day. Plus, you probably won’t have to fight somebody for that prime spot in the back of the lot.
19. Keep a set of shoes/clothes in your car for when motivation strikes.
Sometimes that mood for a little exercise comes out of nowhere. Be ready to embrace it by keeping a spare set of gear on-hand.
20. Save a show or podcast JUST for working out.
Dying to know what happens next? Fight the urge to binge watch (or listen) and commit to only tuning in during your workouts. You just might find yourself looking forward to your treadmill sessions, afterall.
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