Simple Steps to Kickstart a Healthier Lifestyle

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around wellness. Some people may aim to lose weight, while others might want to gain muscle or build stamina. While most people focus on the physical benefits of mindful eating and exercise, there are many mental health benefits, too.

One way to start — or resuscitate — your health journey is through small but consistent steps. Don’t set unrealistic goals and give up when you can’t lose 20 pounds safely in the first month. Habit stacking is a great way to gradually build on good habits so that they stick and become second nature.

If you walk for 20 minutes every day, for example, try to drink more water at the same time. Then strap on some ankle weights before your walk. Gradually add 10 more minutes to your route. Listen to a motivational podcast while walking. With such habit stacking, you can get more out of the same routine.

In the same spirit, here are five simple steps to kickstart a healthier lifestyle.

1. Opt for Veggies at Least Twice a Day

It’s tempting to grab a cheeseburger at the drive-thru, but the empty calories won’t get you far in your fitness journey. Instead, meal prep on your days off. This way you have fresh, washed, and cut veggies to munch on raw or quickly stir-fry with a protein.

Experiment with new spices and herbs to amp up the flavor so poor ol’ broccoli doesn’t feel boring. Just changing the flavor profile of a healthy ingredient can do wonders. If you are tired of American tastes, add some taco seasoning or Asian stir-fry sauce.

If your schedule doesn’t allow you to prepare a variety of vegetables regularly, get help from super greens powder. You’ll benefit from superfoods like spinach and blueberries while enjoying the convenience of just scooping some powder into your favorite beverage.

2. Stay Hydrated in Style

Thanks to TikTok, half of your family may have asked for the same fancy thermal tumbler for Christmas. And — priciness aside — that may not be such a bad thing. If a trending product is getting youth and adults drink more water, it’s worth it. Plus, such containers help the environment by reducing the need for disposable water bottles.

Consuming enough water can alleviate many health concerns; whether you have a headache, skin issues, indigestion, or circulation problems, hydration can be the answer. A simple rule of thumb is to consume half your body weight in ounces of water every day. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should have 70 ounces of water daily. If chugging 70 ounces seems daunting, add some citrus slices or berries to ratchet up the flavor. Recognize, too, that some of that water intake will come from the foods you eat, so bring on the juicy apple or savory soup.

3. Watch Out for Sneaky Snacks

Often, people watch what they eat at mealtimes but slip by munching mindlessly at other times. The trick to avoiding this trap is not to bring junk food into the house in the first place. Indulge in your favorite treats every once in a while, but only when you’re out. It’s OK to enjoy ice cream occasionally, but don’t have an entire tub available to scarf while you’re watching “Friends” reruns.

Tips to Kickstart a Healthier Lifestyle

Consider using an app to log everything you eat and drink. If you feel some behaviors or practices trigger bad eating habits, modify them. For instance, if a super early dinner makes you ravenous at night, eat later or munch on a handful of healthy nuts. If a sad movie makes you crave sugar, enjoy some fruit. Having washed and cut-up fruit in the fridge hand can help you avoid reaching for the cookie jar.

4. Get Enough Sleep

At times, the most common sense solutions are the ones people tend to ignore. Mindlessly scrolling on your phone at night can keep you awake until the wee hours of the morning. Each TikTok may be only 10 seconds long, but the brevity tricks your mind into thinking you can watch “just one more.” That can easily translate into an additional hour — or two. You may reach for unhealthy snacks while you watch or just wake up the next day feeling groggy.

To get more and better sleep, develop a relaxing nighttime routine that does not involve food or screens. A warm shower, a soothing skincare regimen, a good book, and some gratitude journaling have zero calories. They also offer many benefits, such as a clearer mind, a well-rested body, and fewer under-eye bags.

5. Choose Your Circle Wisely

This year don’t let unconstructive people into your life — the negativity is just not worth it. Establish polite but firm boundaries and stick to them. This can work wonders for your mental health. First, you do not have to justify or process any toxic behaviors. Second, establishing these limits can make you feel in control of whom you choose to let in your life.

This principle does not just apply to romantic relationships. You can set boundaries with co-workers, in-laws, friends, and even people you follow online. Just because you went to school with someone 20 years ago does not mean they get to be your friend by default. People evolve, and not always in a good way. It’s OK to let go.

Instead, surround yourself with people who also want a simpler, stress-free life. Perhaps take up a sport together or go for a brisk walk a few times a week. Talk about ideas, not people. Experiment with a new hobby or join a book club. Volunteer instead of binging on shows and just buying more stuff.

Slow and Steady

Beginning a journey toward a healthier you may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start with these small steps and gradually stack on good habits one by one. Celebrate even small victories and don’t get down if you slip at times. A healthier lifestyle is a lifelong effort that can begin today.