This time of year, we are all overwhelmed. The holidays are behind us, yet we are still struggling with getting back in the swing of things while also facing down the pile of goals that we decided to make for this coming year. Whether we’re trying to lose weight, be more productive, or eat healthier, most of us have made a resolution or two at the start of January. These goals, while they are a great idea, tend to be such monumental changes that we never end up seeing them through. Why?
It’s the same reason that 90% of the people who make a New Year’s Resolution to go to the gym more frequently will drop off before March hits. Our lofty goals are too lofty. The resolution to lose 50 pounds by summer is too overwhelming for most people to know where to start… so they don’t start.
So how do we give up the habits that are hurting us and replace them with habits that will help us flourish?
Baby Steps. Make your goals smaller. It’s awesome to have big goals, it really is. But those big goals should have many smaller goals that lead up to them. You may want to completely give up gluten and dairy and go Paleo, but start smaller. Give up gluten for 3 months first. Then give up dairy. Then start replacing white potatoes and beans with sweet potatoes and roasted veggies. Baby steps are much easier to adapt to than huge goals that we can’t even wrap our minds around.
So here are 10 baby steps that should help you to get into a healthier lifestyle and prepare you for continuing to make healthy changes in the future. Just start by implementing one at a time for a period of 3 weeks so they become a habit, and then add another. You’ll be healthier in no time!
10 Steps Toward Healthier Living
- MAKE HEALTHY VEGETABLE SUBSTITUTIONS – Sweet potato fries instead of regular fries, romaine lettuce instead of a wheat wrap, zucchini noodles instead of pasta, & sweet potato chips instead of regular chips are a great way to increase your nutrient intake without sacrificing flavor. And while we’re at it, eating veggies with every meal is an awesome way to make sure that you’re getting the amount of veggies that you need. Spinach and kale are great, easy ways to incorporate veggies into your morning eggs or smoothie without even noticing!
- FIND A GOOD PROBIOTIC TO TAKE DAILY – The gut affects the health of your entire body. Nourishing the gut bacteria is important to help keep the immune system strong, and the relationship between the gut and the immune system is very strong. Make sure the probiotics are a high quality one with reliable reviews, and not just something you find on sale at the drugstore. These are the probiotics that I take, and my kids take these.
- EAT FERMENTED FOODS DAILY – Fermented foods are foods such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, etc. They also help balance gut bacteria, and keeps the gut lining strong. Damaged gut lining easily leads to anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, & chronic illness. Kombucha may be $5 a bottle at the store, but it’s so simple to make at home for pennies!
- EAT LOCAL, RAW, ORGANIC, SEASONAL HONEY – Local honey from local flowers and bees helps your body adapt to the pollen, which reduces seasonal allergies. Just make sure not to give honey to infants under 1 year of age.
- REDUCE THE CONSUMPTION OF RED MEAT – Red meat (though it’s delicious) is a highly inflammatory food. You can still have it, just make sure it’s a treat and not a staple in your diet. We generally don’t have it more than once a week, and that also helps cut costs since it’s so pricey!
- BUY ORGANIC WHENEVER POSSIBLE – Non-organic foods contain high levels of pesticides, which build up in your body and overload the liver as it tries to filter them out. Organic foods help limit the amount of pesticides that you’re exposed to, which is especially important for kids that are growing. As a bonus, limit GMO foods as well. These are genetically modified to withstand the heavy amounts of pesticides that are sprayed on them. Since they are much stronger breeds, they’re also very difficult to break down in our digestive system, so they can cause problems there too.
- TAKE TURMERIC FOR ACHES & PAINS – It’s great as a pain reducer and also amazing for reducing inflammation. You can take capsules as supplements (we take these), or you can get a powder to include in your morning smoothies (I use this for smoothies). Pharmaceuticals, while they have their time and place, have many more health risks and should be used sparingly.
- EXERCISE AS A FAMILY EVERY DAY – Take walks together after dinner, go swimming, play basketball, football, or tag. Even going to the playground together can get some great activity in, as well as fun family adventure time!
- LIMIT GLUTEN & DAIRY – Gluten is the worst offender when it comes to causing inflammation in the body, and dairy comes in second. Inflammation is responsible for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and more. If you must have it, limit it. But you’re better off without it! If you are looking for steps for giving up gluten, read more here.
- MAKE REST A PRIORITY – Ensuring that each member of the family gets enough sleep is pivotal for allowing the body to heal and keeping the immune system healthy. Shoot for 8-9 hours for adults, and 11 or more for children. I know that I find it hard to get to bed at a decent time because I’ve always got more to do. This, in turn, leads to me waking up later because I’m exhausted. The best way to break this cycle is to force yourself to get up when you want to get up, which may be rough for a couple of days, but will pay off because it will lead to an earlier bedtime because you’re tired. That’s my secret for getting on a better schedule!
There are many mistakes that we make when we attempt to give up our unhealthy habits and strive for new ones, and honestly, living a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy. It goes against the way our culture lives, and it takes a lot of time to adapt to.
It may look like I’ve got it all down, with my healthy recipes and essential oils and natural healing, but remember this: It has taken me 2 years to get here. It didn’t happen overnight. And I STILL struggle with sugar and caffeine.
Nobody is perfect. Just give yourself grace, and DON’T GIVE UP! Your health is worth it.
What tips do you have for someone who wants to give up their unhealthy habits for healthier ones?