FOOD

5 Sustainable Ways To Kick-Start A Healthy You Right Now

Kelly Glass is a writer whose work focuses on the intersections of parenting, health, and pop culture. She lives in an Illinois college town with her educator husband, wildly ambitious sons, dog, and several fish. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Romper, BlackGirlNerds.com, HelloGiggles, Oxygen.com, What to Expect, and more.

If you’re like me, you’ve historically waited until New Year’s for a good excuse to jump on the latest health craze bandwagon. Fortunately, there are many other reasons to start on a journey toward a healthier lifestyle (sans health craze, that is). There are also just as many reasons why that journey is often cut short. Healthy habits are easier to start than they are to stick with. Restrictive eating plans, faddish new workouts, and the latest miracle methods aren’t sustainable in the long term.

The best way to kick-start healthy habits is to find a balanced approach that’s tailored to your lifestyle and needs. Here are five ways to make small yet meaningful changes that will set you on a sustainable path to health.

1. Jump Off the Bandwagon

woman doing yoga

The reviews are in, and people are having great results cutting carbs, going gluten-free, drinking apple cider vinegar, wearing sauna suits, or whatever else is trending at the moment. So that means it will work for you, right? Not exactly.

Your lifestyle, schedule, habits, physical demands, and preferences are all personal to you. Your health, eating, and fitness plans should be personal to you, too. Wellness programs like Noom can help you identify the habits and choices for you to focus on and tailor them to the schedule that fits your life. The more seamless healthy habits are to incorporate into your life, the more likely you are to stick with them.

2. Don't Forget the Mental Part

couple supportive of healthy habits

Starting healthy habits is as much a mental game as it is about the execution. If you jump headfirst into anything new without first considering your mental preparedness, you might jump right off just as quickly. As a mom, it helps me to have my whole family on board as much as possible. The rest of the family doesn’t have to go on the journey with me, but knowing they understand what I’m doing and why calms my nerves. Not only am I gathering support, but I know I’m mentally committed to a change once I tell those closest to me.

Another way to make sure you’re mentally prepared for a lifestyle change is to think realistically and keep it simple. Avoid setting yourself up with grand expectations. Think through what you need and why you want to make changes, and write down the reasons. When times get tough, remind yourself to help you stay on track.

3. Use Your Fitness Tracker the Right Way

fitness tracker for healthy habits

I couldn’t wait to start tracking my steps when I got my new fitness tracker for my birthday. It didn’t take too long before I had fallen into the trap of rewarding myself for meeting goals and beating myself up when I didn’t. I’d become obsessed with this tiny wearable gadget’s approval. It wasn’t long before I gave up out of frustration and lost interest (as well as the charger). 

Let’s be clear — fitness trackers are not bad, but they are not the all-inclusive answer. The best way to make good use of your fitness tracker is to use it as part of a more comprehensive wellness plan. Noom syncs with both the Apple Watch and the Fitbit so you can make better use of the data from your fitness tracker.

4. Assess Your Sleeping Habits

woman sleeping

The elusive sleep — it’s necessary for your health, but it’s often forgotten as part of a fitness plan. Maybe you’ve planned your maximum calories and scheduled your workouts, and that’s great. However, if you’re forgetting to prioritize healthy sleep habits, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

Lack of sleep can lead you to crave sugary and salty foods. Not getting enough rest can also wear on your body, making you susceptible to giving up on your fitness goals. It’s hard to disconnect at night, but do yourself a favor and try. A well-rested body is a healthier one.

5. Have Fun With Food

5. Have Fun With Food

Diet plans focus on restriction and weight loss, but wellness plans focus on gaining healthy habits and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Instead of getting caught in the “don’t eat this” trap, open yourself up to the possibility of meals you don’t usually cook featuring fresh foods and vegetables that are outside of your comfort zone. Salads are OK, sure. But eating the same thing day in and day out can put you in a rut that sabotages your goals. Not sure how to switch it up in the kitchen? Let meal planning services tackle the thinking for you so you can focus on the fun part — eating well!