A deterring factor keeping many people from starting a health journey is the lack of instant gratification. Having the ability to defer instant gratification to accomplish long term goals is a trait that many fit and healthy people have in common. If you’re always doing what you want to do the moment you want to do it, reaching your long term goals becomes quite difficult. A long term approach is the answer, but in order to get there, you must take small steps along the way.
Many people will try to lose weight or get fit too quickly and while they may see some great short term results, the vast majority of them will end up right back where they started, or even worse.
A mindset change is often the first step in the right direction if you truly want to make positive changes to your life. Instead of thinking about the macro plan and big picture, it can really help to just set short term goals and aim to do the right things each day, instead of focusing on an entire week, month or year.
Doing something healthy each and every day will help you build momentum and likely motivate you to do more health-promoting activities as the days pass.
In this blog post, I will detail 10 things you can do TODAY that will make you healthier. Don’t feel like you need to do all 10 in the same day. Even if you can just do one or two each day until it becomes a habit, your health is bound to improve. Let’s dive in!
Movement is something people are getting less and less of in this day and age and it’s showing in our obesity statistics. While diet and nutrition are the most important factors in avoiding obesity, lack of movement is close behind.
A good place to start is with 10 minute walks. If you can take a 10 minute walk after every meal every day, it’s going to benefit you tremendously. Attaching a habit (walking) to a daily non-negotiable (eating meals) can really help you stick to it long term. As this becomes more of a routine, add 5 minutes to one of the walks per day. Then 5 minutes to a second walk, and so on.
If you can get an average of 7,000 steps each day, you’re statistically significantly less likely to suffer from obesity related diseases.
Unless you’re getting a lot of productive and important work done late into the evening, there is no valid reason to stay up late. Some people are, in fact, night owls and they’re more productive at night. These people are few and far between.
If you find yourself staying up late watching Netflix or scrolling on social media, you’re likely making yourself less healthy little by little. Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each day until you’ve reached a reasonable time. Limit yourself to 1 or 2 episodes per night at the very most, and give yourself a curfew to put your phone away and turn on do not disturb mode.
In order to do this and stay healthy, you must follow step 2. Waking up earlier by cutting your sleep short will do the opposite of improving your health. Waking up early is a trait that the vast majority of healthy, fit and successful people share.
When you wake up before the sun, you get a jumpstart on the day and usually the rest of your competition. There’s a reason why some of the best athletes wake up early and train. It gives them a mental edge on their competition.
That said, you don’t necessarily need to get up early and go right to the gym. If you prefer and have time to train later in the day, studies show that it’s more advantageous to do so. But waking up and accomplishing your most important tasks will make you more successful, happy, productive, and healthy.
Just like going to bed earlier, a good strategy is to start waking up 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach a reasonable wake-up time.
Losing fat will make you healthier. Lifting weights will speed up your metabolism. Having a fast metabolism means you can eat more and still lose fat or stay lean. That should be enough incentive.
Studies show that people who eat meat and vegetables live longer. Meat (especially red meat) sometimes gets a bad reputation. This is old news. Meat is not only full of protein that will help build muscle and keep you full, but it’s also loaded with nutrients.
It’s important to factor in the quality of meat you’re consuming. Processed meat (hot dogs, bacon, sausages, etc.) is not going to make you healthier. Conventionally raised meat is also something to consume in moderation. If possible, look for grass fed and/or free range meat. The extra cost of these meats are more than worth it.
Vegetables are also loaded with nutrients and fiber which also helps keep you satiated. Although there’s nothing wrong with eating salads from time to time, eating mostly cooked vegetables is a good practice for most people because they tend to cause fewer digestive issues than raw veggies.
Building your diet around meat (and eggs, dairy, and fish) and vegetables will get you most of the way to your health goals (especially if you combine it with tips 1, 4, and 7.)
The world is full of stressors and your body can handle moderate amounts of daily stress very well. But too much stress can cause a myriad of negative health effects.
People who practice stress mitigation techniques tend to be healthier and happier. Whether you prefer meditation, journaling, therapy, breathing exercises, walking in nature or any other method to mitigate stress, ensuring you practice it regularly can and will change your life.
Cardio, especially the low intensity kind (zone 2 heart rate), has been proven time and time again to be loaded with health benefits. If able, performing 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of low-moderate intensity cardio every week will improve your heart, lung, circulatory, and mental health. It will also help with recovery between lifting workouts.
2.5 hours may seem like a lot, but most people can reach zone 2 by simply walking at a brisk pace. Also, just because 2.5 hours is the preferred amount shown in studies, doesn’t mean that doing less than that is completely useless.
How do you know it’s zone 2? You should be able to say a 10-12 word sentence without having to stop talking for a big breath. You can also judge it by heart rate if you have a good monitor. 120-140 is a good range for most individuals.
The key is not to rely on cardio for extra fat loss. While it may work short-term, if you try to “burn off” the calories you eat by doing cardio, you’re shooting yourself in the foot long term. It’s essential to also ensure you’re not skipping tip # 4 so you don’t lose muscle and slow down your metabolism.
Fasting has many health benefits, mostly in terms of longevity. Fasting is also a great tool to teach yourself what true hunger feels like, and differentiate it from cravings. Many people fast daily, and have an “eating window” in which they consume their daily calories.
This is a great technique, but is not necessary to do in order to benefit from it. If you’ve never fasted before, start with 12 hours. For example, have your last calorie at 8 PM and your first calorie the next day at 8 AM. Each time you decide to fast, extend it by 30 minutes.
16-18 hours is very doable and if you can practice it once or several times weekly, you’ll reap the benefits. It can also be used as a weight loss tool. If you’ve had issues with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating, fasting may not be for you. Otherwise, give it a try sometime!
The world is full of knowledge. Take time each day and read, listen to a book or podcast, watch informative YouTube videos, or research things on the internet that you’re interested in. You never know when you might learn something that'll change your life!
Getting into a cold shower can be tough. But building mental toughness is something we can all benefit from. Doing things that make you uncomfortable every day can go a long way in building your confidence.
My favorite benefit of cold showers is the long lasting rise in dopamine (a feel good hormone) that follows it. I just feel good for the next few hours. It can also aid the mobilization of brown fat, which can help with overall fat loss.
Heat therapy is another great longevity hack. If you have access to a sauna, steam room or hot tub, utilizing it a couple times per week can decrease your all-cause mortality significantly. Bonus: go back and forth between hot and cold!
Depending on where you’re at now, fitness can be an ongoing journey. I consider myself to be relatively fit and healthy, and I’m still working hard every day in order to ensure my actions are pointing me in the right direction. It can be overwhelming to start, but even doing one activity per day that will improve your health is better than none at all.
Thank you for reading! Let me know in the comments section if you have goals to improve your health. Which of these tips do you struggle with and which ones do you already focus on?