As with most life changes, actually getting started can be a major sticking point. And the more changes there are on the horizon, the more difficult it can be to start.
Today, we’re not going to focus on any major changes. We’re not going to uproot or overhaul anything. Instead, let’s just look at 8 simple things you can try in the next 24 hours to start integrating healthy habits and practices into your life.
#1: Cut the Electronics Off Early
Having trouble getting good, quality sleep? Your electronics might be partly to blame. Not only does that incessant facebook scrolling keep your brain active, but the light coming off your electronics is what we call blue light. Our diurnal rhythms associate blue light with sunlight, and so hinder the hormonal transition from daytime to sleepytime.
#2: Go to Sleep 15 minutes Earlier
Getting to bed earlier is difficult. We all have things to do, responsibilities to take care of, and shows to catch up on. And even when you do manage to get to bed early, you just end up tossing and turning, right?
Sleep is absolutely crucial to staying healthy, but forcing more of it on yourself is usually counterproductive. So let’s start small: just try to get to bed 15 minutes earlier than normal. That’s all - a measly 15 minutes.
[Spoilers: once that’s established, we’ll probably add another 15…]
#3 Prep Tonight For the Morning and Sleep 15 Minutes Later
A lot of people have difficulty having enough get up and go in the morning. Whether it’s difficulty actually getting out of bed (my wife) or getting up immediately but moving at a snail’s pace (yours truly), morning ablutions are typically no one’s friend.
To counter this, try prepping for the morning the night before. You don’t necessarily have to do everything to get ready for the day ahead of time, but you’d be amazed how what takes 15 minutes in the morning only takes 3 in the evening.
Additionally, being prepared in the morning automatically leaves you with more left in your daily willpower tank because a lot of the decisions you have to make are already taken care of. More willpower equals less stress. Good stuff.
#4 Walk More
How much walking should you be doing? That’s easy: more. No need for fancy gadgets and arbitrary goals - just make sure you’re walking as often as you can.
The trick is to build walking back into your day. Walk to work or, if that’s not possible, park farther away. Take the long way. Get up from your desk and move around. Meet the pizza delivery guy in the lobby instead of having him come up to your floor. Whatever you need to do to add just a little bit more low-level activity into your day is a great start.
#5 Cut the Carbs Out of Breakfast
Do you have to eat a low-carb diet in order to lose fat? Not necessarily, no. But getting a massive load of carbohydrates first thing in the morning helps knock you out of the fat-burning mode your body is in after its 8-hour fast, and can make you feel hungry again pretty soon afterward (thanks, insulin).
Stick to fat and protein at breakfast. Eggs and bacon, anyone?
Or if you’re not hungry, don’t eat! The fallacy that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is complete malarkey, if I may use a term that’s outdated but makes me giggle. This is actually quite a large topic that I’ll probably tackle some time in the near future.
#6 The Gym!
This one has a lot of factors involved, so just pick the one that fits your situation.
If you don’t belong or have access to a gym, go find one! Strip away the first layer of mystery and start getting used to being at your new gym (and don’t forget to check out our Strength Training 101 series HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE to help get you started!).
If you already belong or have access to a gym, go! Many people get stuck in an endless cycle of paying monthly dues and never showing up, so go! Right now. Get up and go.
Notice, though, I didn’t say exercise. Sure, it would be ideal to exercise once you get there, but if you’re overly tired or stressed, it might not be the right time. The habit of getting up and going to the gym, though, is really important. It’s often the initial hurdle of getting up and going that holds a lot of people back. But if you make getting up and going a regular part of your plan, exercising once you get there becomes pretty easy.
If you regularly go to the gym, make sure you’re lifting weights! Forget the treadmills and elliptical machines and go get yourself some sustainable, actually useful benefits by moving around some heavy stuff!
If you regularly go to the gym and lift weights, high-five! Good on ya :-)
#7 Identify One Major Vice or Bad Habit
Real results come with some real in-depth looks at who you currently are as a person. We all have habits, and no one has only good ones (myself included). The first step, then, is to do some (possibly difficult) digging and start to identify the things in your life that are holding you back from your health and fitness goals.
Are you addicted to Diet Coke? Do you not think you deserve a better, stronger, more capable body? Have you failed so many times in the past that you don’t think you’re capable of succeeding? Do you let the opinions of others influence the choices you make? Do you not know how to cook? Do you not have a proper support system?
There is no need to solve any of this right now. But you need to make sure you’re starting with the right questions if you ever hope to find the right answers.
#8 Change Up Your Coffee
This one might not apply to everyone, but I bet it will to most. If you regularly start your day with a coffee-based dessert drink concoction (you know who you are), make an effort to change it up a bit.
Starting with your next coffee (and for the next 7 days or so), try getting just a regular coffee and either drinking it black or just with half & half or heavy cream. And with any of these, make sure you give it at least a week before you decide that you “could never drink it like that.” The current state of coffee drinks nowadays is mostly, as I said, desserts. If you truly just want it for the morning boost, forgo all the sugar (and other abhorrent chemicals and preservatives).
Remember, getting started is often the most difficult but most important parts of any lifestyle change. So start small, but make sure you start!
Be sure to share your tips below! What's something YOU think someone can apply to try RIGHT NOW?