A friend says, “Hey, how are you doing?”
“I didn’t sleep well last night, but I’m good.”
Another acquaintance asks, “How have you been?”
You reply with a genuine smile, “Busy, tired, but who isn’t?”
You find memes about coffee and caffeine being your daily fuel to be all to relatable. I mean, they are funny, but it kind of concerns you that your body doesn’t have the energy for your day without a stimulant like caffeine.
Or your body is so sensitive to caffeine that a simple cup of coffee too late in the day will wreck your night of sleep with a panic attack.
This has been the story of my life for the last few years. My 30’s haven’t been very kind to my body. Of course, I haven’t really been all that kind to my body most of my life. I guess turnabout’s fair play, huh? I think I’ve been due for a few simple steps to a healthier life to correct things for a while now.
With my panic attacks and some issues that come around (or not, ha) on a mostly monthly basis, I’ve finally found a regimen of supplements (herbs, vitamins, and minerals) and essential oils that I find extremely helpful, but they haven’t had near the impact that I’ve seen with tweaking my diet and adding more movement to my day. If you are interested in reading about my supplements and oils, let me know in the comments and I will find a way to tell you about them that doesn’t get me in trouble with the powers that be regulating. 😉
Simple Steps to a Healthier Life
You may have picked up from the above paragraph that my simple steps have to do with food and movement. Before you roll your eyes or feel exasperated because you’ve tried this before, hear me out.
I’ve tried being intentional about exercising daily, I even made it about 6 weeks with this goal last fall. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of for cutting or reducing sugar in my diet because, frankly, I’m a bit addicted. None of these have stuck, but this spring, I think I have found a few simple steps that will stick.
1. Drinking a glass of water before anything else in the morning. I tend to not drink a lot during the day. I had days where I would get to dinner and realize I hadn’t drank any water that day. Not really helpful for my body. This way I have at least 16 oz. of water (one of our drinking glasses) in the morning. I usually take my supplements with this so it’s easy to get it all down.
2. Focus on veggies at lunch. I try to have a salad for lunch each day. As much as a creature of habit I am (I typically have the exact same salad), I also fight routine like nobody’s business so it’s ridiculous how hard this can be some days.
I’m not focused on specific items, just aiming to have vegetables. Previously, I’ve actually had days where I hit dinner and realized I hadn’t had a vegetable all day. Yeah, you can see why simple steps needed to happen for me.
3. Stop striving for perfection. This simple step has probably been the hardest to implement. I tend to be all or nothing and this often leads to a lot of nothing because who really can be “all” perfectly? Not me, that’s for sure.
What this looks like for me is that when I do great a few days in a row and my mind starts making all these grand plans of how I’ll get it right and do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY from here to eternity, I tell myself to shut up. Well, not exactly, I just stop and take some deep breaths. Then I thank God that I’ve managed to do something right for a short consistent time because I know that isn’t me.
Then, when I miss a day or two, I don’t stress. I simply make a mental note to pick up where I left off or start again right then, depending on what it is. I’m aiming for every day, but realizing that isn’t always going to happen. For a lot of reasons.
4. Prepping vegetables and other items as I can. One of the things that annoys me about vegetables is all the chopping it takes to use them. I don’t have time to chop lettuce, broccoli, onion, shred carrots, etc. everyday for a salad. So I don’t.
I keep a large, covered Pyrex bowl in the refrigerator with cut up lettuce. Then I keep a sandwich size bag each of broccoli bits, chopped red onion, and diced bell peppers in the deli drawer. I buy my carrots pre-shredded. I shred hunks of Tillamook cheese that we get from Costco and keep it in a gallon size bag, also in the deli drawer. I only have to do this once every 4-5 days, depending on who else eats salads.
I used to think that I needed to have a set day to do this in order for it to be an official routine, but I’ve let go of that and just do it when it needs done. That’s routine enough.
5. Front load my day with productivity. This is the step I actually do the worst with, being intentional about getting the productivity wheel going each morning. I am NOT a morning person in the slightest and so it takes me a while to get going in the morning, and no, a cup of coffee doesn’t help this.
My productivity often looks different each day. I have days where I try to get a one mile walk in before breakfast. Some days it is reading my bible and reading an actual book for personal growth. Other days it is specific homeschool group work done before lunch. Some days it is dishes and laundry.
It really doesn’t matter what it is, just something that needs to be done and that doesn’t involve a screen. Screens are a big, time-sucking rabbit trail for me.
6. Whenever possible, exercise before breakfast. For me, this is my one mile walk. It takes me 15-25 minutes, depending on who ends up going with me or if I get to go alone. I have short legs and walking at 3.5 miles per hour is really moving for me (I know this from walking on a treadmill). This walk isn’t meant to do anything other than get me moving early, out in the fresh air, and clear-headed, so I walk at a relatively leisurely pace most of the time.
The point is movement early in the day, not a super sweatfest. If you want a super sweatfest, then have at it. It’s just not me yet.
7. Making breakfast very protein-heavy. This is hands down the simple step that has made the biggest impact for me. Sometime in March, I started focusing on protein for breakfast. Being the creature of habit that likes to think she doesn’t like routine that I am, this is fairly consistent in content, too. Typically it is 3 breakfast sausages (fully cooked, frozen ones from Costco that have no msg, nitrites, or preservatives), 1-2 eggs, and a few berries.
Sometimes I will sauté some veggies in the pan and then crack my egg over that, just to get more vegetables in my day. This doesn’t happen often because it adds to the time it takes to make my breakfast since I only use one pan for my breakfast because, hello? Dishes.
Previously, I didn’t get much protein in my day either. At this point you may be wondering what the heck I ate and drank since veggies, protein, and water were often lacking from my diet. I’ll give you an example: breakfast would be cereal, oatmeal, or a bagel; lunch would be mac and cheese or pancakes (kids can make these); and then dinner would be some sort of pasta, which would have some veggies or protein usually. Add in there my sweets and snacks of pretzels, crackers, or such and you have a very carb-heavy day of food.
This is why the simple tweaks of a veggie-heavy salad for lunch and a hearty, protein-packed breakfast make a huge difference in how my body feels. And it really is hugely different. On the days I get all seven of these things in, I feel amazing. Like conquer the world amazing. I can definitely use more days like that, how about you?
Last week, after #7 being the only simple step that I had maintained consistently for a month, I realized that my mid-section was significantly less fluffy. My husband noticed it the next day. I haven’t stepped on the scale to see if those numbers have moved and my clothes don’t fit a ton better, but there is a definite improvement in my waist comfort of my pants. It’s enough to keep me headed in this direction.
One of the other results that I have noticed when I implement these simple steps to a healthier life is that I actually don’t crave sugar as much, and there is simply less time for me to eat it so I am naturally eating less sugar. I’ll take it!
If you are looking to make some improvements to improve your overall health and energy, be encouraged that small changes really can make a big difference. While I look forward to a day when all seven of these simple steps feel easy and natural, I am thrilled that even one makes me feel so much better. Give it a shot.
If you are the type who needs more direction, try them in this order – 7, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Keep #3 in mind the whole time and knock them off one at a time. You really can do this, trust me. If I can, you can. Tell me in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know that you started and I will pray for you and root you on!