Every Step Counts Towards Your Progressive Transformation!
A friend recently said to me, “It is not about what you can’t do, but rather what you CAN do.” This applies to every aspect of life and is so important to remember when you’re trying to make lasting changes for your health: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
· If you want to make big changes, try starting small.
· Change doesn’t happen overnight.
· A little progress each day will lead to big results.
· The smallest steps can have the largest impact on your life.
Gradual daily modifications are the key to long-term sustainable change that will guide you towards your life transformation.
Ditch the “quick fixes” and fad diets. These “quick fixes” take you from 0-100 at a rapid rate, and there is no time for true growth. They may work at first, but the restriction and deprivation will lead to frustration; eventually you may rebound. Rather than restricting yourself completely, take one step at a time to create new habits you will actually keep for the long haul!
Forget the all-or-nothing attitude, and get rid of the perfectionist mindset. If you are unable to do something in the exact way you’d prefer to do it, or if you can’t give 100%, don’t decide to do nothing instead. Small changes are better than making no change. The important thing is to just start somewhere. Don’t nix physical fitness just because you can’t make it to the gym. Begin by adding some activity, and look for activities you love. If you gradually add delicious, fresh, whole foods, you will slowly crowd out the sugar and processed foods.
Switch the phrase “I don’t have time” with “I will to the best of my ability make the time.” At the beginning of each week and for each day, plan ahead to see how you can incorporate healthy choices to fit your schedule. Select the days and times you will exercise. Make time for a lunch break each day, and choose which evenings you will cook. Write it down or put it in your phone to provide more accountability. Remember, it’s okay if you have to adjust the times, but at least you have taken that first step to plan for it.
True change takes time, and it is a gradual process. Set long-term goals for modifications, and subdivide these goals into short-term, realistic changes you can make along the way. Be patient with yourself. Congratulate yourself as you take each step towards achieving these goals. Create a positive support system to cheer you on as you continue your health and wellness journey. You will move forward each day, each week, and each month. You will start to notice that these new habits will become part of your daily life.
Here are some helpful tips to gradually add health and wellness into your life so that you may achieve your long-term goals.
Swap Water for Soda and Sugary Beverages – Instead of completely cutting sugary drinks out of your life, start by cutting back from 4 sodas a day to 2 sodas a day. Swap it out for 2 cups of water. Gradually continue to add in more water and reduce the soda intake. Bring a water bottle with you wherever you go so it’s always available. If you want extra flavor add lemon, lime, or berries. As you progress you will eventually crave more water, and you will no longer reach for the soda.
Eat Slower and Have Smaller Portions – In our fast paced life, eating has become a rushed event. You often gobble down food, and your mind doesn’t have time to register when you are full. If you chew more slowly, you will notice that you won’t need as much food to feel sated. Fill your plate once, and wait 20 minutes to see how you feel after the meal. You will be surprised to discover that you won’t need that second helping.
Add Vegetables to Your Meal – Rather than eliminating the processed foods and sugar from your diet completely, slowly add more vegetables to your meals. Continue to have the burger or pizza, but add a salad. Ask for a side of veggies with your steak and potatoes. The more vegetables you add to your diet, the more you will crave them; and you will slowly crowd out the processed foods.
Have a Fruit for Dessert – Instead of skipping dessert, swap out that cookie or cake for a piece of fruit. There are so many delicious fruits that can satisfy your sweet tooth. Try some berries, melon, kiwi, a crisp apple, or sliced pear. Don’t immediately eliminate the cookie; start by switching to fruit every other day. Then each week add more fruit, which will slowly replace the processed, sugary desserts.
Keep Recipes Simple – We don’t all have hours to spend on cooking each evening, and while Sunday food prep is very helpful, not everyone wants to spend their entire afternoon in the kitchen. Instead of going out to eat and giving up on cooking completely—which can lead to unhealthy decisions—keep it simple. Choose recipes that take 30 minutes to make and have 5-6 ingredients or less. Set aside a few minutes on the weekend to plan your meals for the week, so you don’t have to think about it in the evenings.
Work Towards 3 Meals a Day – Many struggle with eating 3 meals a day due to lack of time. When you skip meals, your blood sugar level falls. This often leads to snacking, poor choices, and binging by the time dinner arrives. Rather than committing to 3 full meals a day immediately, start small. Have a banana with nut butter in the morning. For lunch, begin with nutritious snacks that are easy to take with you on-the-go. Some great options are sliced vegetables, nuts, hummus, or a hard-boiled egg. Once this becomes a habit, work towards having larger balanced meals that include vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. As you notice the energy you gain from having consistent meals throughout the day, you will start to crave nutritious, complete, balanced meals. You are also less likely to attack the refrigerator when you get home for dinner.
Go for a Walk – If physical fitness isn’t currently a part of your life or you just haven’t been able to find the time to fit it in, slowly add it into your weekly routine. Don’t worry about hitting the gym or running a 5K. Start with 20 minute walks around the block a few days a week. Walk with a buddy—it’s more fun, and you have accountability. Increase the distance or time every week, and you will notice that you feel more energetic. You will start to feel more comfortable and want to add more variety of exercises to your life.
Change It Up and Do What You Love! – If physical fitness is already a part of your life but you’re looking to take it to the next level, switch it up. When you do the same exercise all the time, it is very easy to get bored and give up completely. Rather than sticking with the same workout every day, mix it up and try something new. Take a boot camp, kickboxing, cycling, Pilates, yoga, or Zumba class. Experiment with styles of workouts. If you love to swim, find an all-year- round pool. If you prefer videos, do those. If you like team sports such as basketball, get a group of people together to join you. See what workout setting and style you prefer, and do what you love!
Just Keep Moving - Every bit of movement counts. Rather than parking in that spot in front of the store, choose a spot further down the lane. Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, take the stairs. Get up from your desk every 30 minutes, and walk around the office; use the time to refill your bottle of water. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air—an activity that benefits your body and helps clear the mind.
Schedule “You Time” for 10 Minutes a Day–Most likely you don’t have time to get a massage on a daily basis, and an hour yoga class may not fit into your schedule each day. Set 10 minutes a day for “you time” even if it means drinking a cup of tea in the morning and listening to your thoughts. Be in the moment, and meditate for a few minutes. If you’re not comfortable with meditation, just the act of being present and breathing will ease stress and help you relax.
Reduce Social Media Time to Twice a Day - Social media and screen time have grown tremendously over the past years and have lessened and diluted our interpersonal interactions. Rather than cut social media cold turkey, commit to such activity twice a day—perhaps once in the morning and once in the early evening. Take the newly found free time to enjoy quality time with your family and friends. You’d be amazed at how much more present you will be during your conversations. Once you see how much more meaningful your relationships can become, you may consider putting away your phone during meal times and and other social interactions.
Go to Bed Earlier – Sleep is a crucial component for a rejuvenated body. Rather than making a commitment to go to bed an hour earlier each night, begin with smaller steps. Commit to 20 minutes earlier at first, and go from there. As that first commitment becomes a consistent achievement, try 30 minutes earlier. As you notice the energy you gain from earlier bedtimes, you will make it a priority to incorporate a good night sleep into your daily life.
Try some of these tips and slowly incorporate health and wellness into your life. You will feel happier, more energetic, and empowered by your progress towards your health and wellness transformation. Remember, it all begins with that first step. As Confucius said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”