Small steps to a healthier you

We all want to be a bit healthier but it’s not always easy to drag yourself off to do a workout, particularly in the lead up to such a busy time of the year. It’s also pretty hard to eat well when there are so many ways to indulge.

Let’s face it despite our best intentions, making a big overhaul to your lifestyle is intimidating at the best of times as it can be really hard to shift life-long habits.

Fortunately, you don’t have to make massive changes to improve your health. Making tiny tweaks is a lot less painful than suddenly ditching the junk food and embracing ‘clean eating’ or getting off the couch and training for a marathon.

Starting small

Small tweaks are easy to fit into your busy life and super effective as they add up – think of them as the bricks you use to build a bridge to better health.

It’s important to start small, choose something that you can commit to and include in your routine on a daily basis. For example, you could try drinking more water. One of the most powerful things we can do for our bodies is making sure we are well hydrated, and you’ll be a lot less likely to reach for a sugar hit if you are getting enough water. There are heaps of apps that can remind you to up your water intake or just use a big water bottle or pop a jug on your desk.

When it comes to exercise it can also be beneficial to take small steps as regular “bite size” mini workouts can be much easier to fit into a busy life and are just as effective as a marathon session at the gym. In fact, a new study says that short bursts of exercise lasting just 12 minutes can lead to better heart and metabolic health.i

Another simple change that can have a significant impact, is to get a better night’s sleep. Try staying off your phone for half an hour or so before you go to bed to help you switch off and improve the quality of your sleep.

Building momentum

Once you start small laying the foundation with a small tweak to your routine and start to see results it’s easy to pick up momentum. You might go for a daily walk around the block for 10 minutes and after a week or so feel like going a little further, then you might jog for a bit and eventually before you know it you are running 5k in that fun run you’ve always wanted to take part in.

Once you’ve committed to an activity make sure you hang in there and keep it up for at least 30 days. That’s the minimum time it takes to form a new habit. Then once the habit sticks you can add a new ‘healthy habit’ into the mix, and then another, and another…

Broadening your focus

There are so many parts of your health that can benefit from a tweak including exercise, diet and mental wellbeing.

When it comes to adding in some exercise try to mix it up a bit – think about getting your heart beating to improve your fitness, do some stretches to help your flexibility, or exercises like squats or push-ups using your own bodyweight to get stronger.

Changing your diet is one of the most challenging aspects of a healthy shift to manage as it can be hard to give up the food you enjoy even though you know it’s not great for you. Try just doing something simple like having a healthy breakfast, adding a cup of veggies or salad to your meals or grabbing a piece of fruit for a snack.

Don’t just think about your physical health – mental health is also important and a few minutes a day can make a big difference. One of the best ways to calm an anxious mind is to focus on your breath – just spend time being aware of the rise and fall of your chest, trying to consciously lengthen the exhalations. Equally, it can be very mood enhancing to think about one good thing that happened to you during the day.

When we start incorporating small but consistent changes in our lives the benefits grow exponentially. So, take your first tiny step today.