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I have been on a health journey for about 3 years now. It all started after I graduated from college and realized I put on the “freshman 15” (or so…) a bit later than most. What started as a weight-loss goal has become a complete wellness goal.
I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to lose any weight, but what really matters to me now is the big picture. I’ve broken up with the scale because how I feel, how I look, and how I live are more important to me than a number. That number alone does not measure my value, worth, or health. It simply provides a numerical value of my gravitational pull.
Wellness is the focus. I’ve tried different tips and tricks and I’ve learned some things along the way that I’m sharing with you. Wellness is more than just the physical body, it’s also mind and soul. Treat your whole self well with these habits.
Get steps in whenever you can! I love walking while doing other activities like listening to a podcast or scrolling social media — I’m not ashamed to say I will walk circles in my house to do this. You do what you gotta do! Every Sunday I schedule my Pure Barre workouts for the week and treat them like an important meeting I cannot miss.Exercise is good for your body, mind, and soul! It helps relieve stress, helps with creativity, releases endorphins, and many other benefits that we probably all know. Find something you enjoy and be consistent. Even a 5 minute walk is better than nothing if that’s where you’re starting from. Challenge yourself as you get stronger to add time or explore other areas of fitness.
- Drink lots of water
You are mostly made of water, so you can imagine your body desperately needs it! It’s been recommended for people to drink at least half their body weight in oz of water a day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75oz of water. I used to be terrible at remembering to drink water, but once I started keeping a water bottle with me at all times, that got easier. I also love adding flavor to my water with lemon, fruit, or safe essential oils (be sure to use a glass or stainless steel cup with citrus or oils since they can erode plastic).Like exercise, water has so many benefits! Water can help you feel energized, is great for your skin and insides, and it reduces the empty calories you’re consuming from other drinks like juices and sodas. Track your water consumption — what’s measured is improved.
- Use your lunch break wisely
I don’t get a lunch break in my current job (real estate life), but this was a great hack I used at my old desk job. Instead of using my lunch break to eat, I would bring my food, eat at my desk, and then use my lunch break however I needed to.Sometimes this was a walk around the parking lot, a grocery run (we had a community refrigerator I could put my food in until it was time to go home), call my mom, or run errands. Life can be so hectic and doing this gave back 5 hours in my week! That’s huge! Go out to lunch once in a while, but be more intentional about it.
- Make most of your meals homemade
I touched on this in #3, but I highly recommend making most of your meals at home instead of eating out. This will save you time, money, and be good for your body. Every week I meal plan based on what food we have on hand, make my grocery list, go shopping, and then meal prep. I might meal prep whole meals or just ingredients depending on what the plan is for the week.This cuts down greatly on our spending. It also cuts down on wasted time because I’m time blocking this important activity instead of using extra time each day. You have complete control over the food your choosing, so be empowered to choose what’s going to make you feel your best!
- Nourish your body
While you’re making those food choices, try to choose whole foods over processed foods. I learned a lot about this when I did my first round of Whole 30 (you can read about that here).Your body was created to consume whole foods, so that’s going to feel a lot better in your diet than the packaged and processed stuff you find in the grocery aisles. I’m not saying you need to cut it out completely (that would be ideal, but probably isn’t realistic), but you can make smarter choices. Choose foods with short ingredient lists and with ingredients you recognize. Sneak in as many greens as you can — my favorite way to do this is with a smoothie or protein shake! I also may add sautéed spinach with my eggs or opt for a hefty salad instead of a sandwich.
- Go to bed earlier
Going to bed earlier leads to waking up earlier which leads to having more productive time! We train our bodies to go to sleep and wake up at certain times, so make it work for you. I had gotten into a bad habit of waking up 30 minutes before I had to leave for work, which made me feel frazzled and already behind for my day.Lately I’ve been doing some 6am Pure Barre classes — it’s hard to wake up that early, but I absolutely love the extra time it gives me! I can make a yummy, hot breakfast, journal, do my devotion, walk our dog, and get ready. It’s glorious! This will be challenging, especially the first few days, but if you stick with it your body will adjust. Your head space will be greatly improved knowing you’ve already accomplished something important right away!
- Shut down devices at least 1 hour before bed
I’m still working on this, but when I do it, I sleep so much better! The blue light your screens emit negatively affect your sleep because it stimulates your brain. You’re probably scrolling social media which is stimulating all other sorts of thoughts.An active mind is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to fall asleep. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve laid in bed restless because I couldn’t get my mind to be quiet. The next two tips help, but shutting down the devices is huge!
Having a mindfulness practice can help calm an active mind. Meditation also helps reduce stress and makes you more aware of your internal and external world. I enjoy guided mediation — I’ve been using and loving the app Simple Habit. Many of the meditations are 5 minutes which is great for busy people who think they’re “too busy” to take a moment and breathe, myself included.The beautiful thing: there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Many people use guided meditations, especially as they’re getting started. Maybe you just want to sit in nature and be still, that works too!
I am a big fan of journaling and to-do lists. Both activities help me get what’s in my mind down on paper so I can let it go. I’ve been using a Write the Word journal as a part of my quiet time to reflect on scripture and write about what’s on my heart. For to-do lists, pen and paper is always good or you can utilize the tools on your phone.I encourage you to brain dump regularly, especially if you’re in a crazy busy season of life. A “brain dump” is where you write down anything on your mind. It’s essentially a stream of consciousness writing. Write down anything from to-do list items, appointments, ideas — anything that’s floating around your head. You will feel immediately lighter because you no longer have to carry these things around.
- Stick to a good skin care routine
Your skin tells a lot about your health and it’s often what makes a first impression. When we meet someone, we see their face — their eyes, their smile, their skin. I’m insecure about my skin at times because I’ve struggled with acne and redness, but my skin care routine helps me overcome that. When I’m consistent with it, my skin usually behaves.This includes sunscreen! Practice safe skin care by protecting your skin from the sun. The sun isn’t necessarily the enemy, but prolonged exposure does have negative effects on the health of our skin. I desperately wanted tan skin as I was growing up (lets be real, I still do…), but I want healthy skin more. There are great sunless tan options out there, so I’ll go that route instead. I highly recommend an annual visit to the dermatologist to make sure all is well. Take care of your body’s largest organ: your skin.
- Unplug from social media
You’ve probably heard this one a million times — have you done it? We’re all addicted to our phones (thanks, notifications, for that hit of dopamine), but it’s wonderful to put them down.Phone down, eyes up. Take a break from your phone and actually enjoy what’s going on around you. I promise you, the world will keep spinning and you really won’t miss that much!
- Do/plan something you enjoy
Have you ever found yourself stuck in the rut of work, sleep, repeat? We get so busy with things that have to do that we miss the things we enjoy. We may not be able to fill our entire day with fun things because obviously things still need to get done, but we should make it a point to plan fun things here and there. Date night with your significant other, coffee with your sister, beach trip with your family, massage for yourself.It doesn’t have to involve spending money, so don’t let that be an excuse. It could be a cup of tea and a good book, a walk around the lake, or simply enjoying your dinner in your backyard on a nice evening. It’s always exciting to have fun plans to look forward to and it makes the hard work worth it. This will energize your spirit and break up the rut routine.
- Serve others
We were created to live in community and a part of community is serving the other members. There are many different ways to serve and whether it’s big or small, it’ll make an impact on the person you’re serving and on yourself. Take a meal over to your neighbor whose child is sick, sign up to serve with a local organization, get plugged in with your church. Where are you gifted and how can you use those gifts to make a difference?It’s easy to make the excuse about how you’re too busy or don’t know where to start, so don’t be afraid to start small right where you are. Serve your family. Serve your coworkers. Serve your neighbors. We can be a blessing to the people in our lives — that is such a gift.
I told you these were simple habits, right? Smile at others and even smile when you’re alone. It’s been shown that smiling actually makes us happier and it’s contagious. Happiness is certainly something that should be spread! Plus it’s free and it takes no extra time.You never know how you could turn someone’s day around! It’s a quick way to positively impact your wellness and the wellness of someone else <3
- Declutter regularly
Decluttering helps us learn how to live and be happy with less. It also shows us how much extra stuff we need that we could do without. Every item you own adds more to your to-do list because these are things you need to clean, maintain, and find a spot for. Every item becomes a decision and those decisions add up to time and mental energy. In the words of Emily Ley, only keep the items that are Best, Favorite, Necessary. You really don’t need 5 cutting boards and 4 of the same black t-shirt. When it comes down to it, you reach for your favorite and maybe you want a backup, so why hold on to the others?There are different ways to get this done, but I like to go room by room emptying out everything and then putting it back one by one IF it meets the mentioned BFN Rule. Create keep, sell, donate, trash piles so you can sort your items. Be ruthless. Another bonus of decluttering: you know exactly what you have. This will keep you from buying duplicate or similar items. You may even choose to introduce the “one in, one out” rule. Nothing new will come in without letting go of something else. Decluttering is a beautiful thing!
Have you cultivated healthy habits in your life? I’d love to hear yours — leave them in the comments below. We can learn a lot from each other and I’m always looking for ways to up-level my routine and habits!