Product Manager Lee White shares his advice on making small changes to help achieve your goals.
Feeling happier and healthier doesn’t have to involve radical changes. Instead of setting unrealistic goals, just make one change over the next month or two.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the advice and research available. Try to focus on one small, seemingly inconsequential, unhealthy habit and turn it into a healthy, positive habit.
Starting with small, painless changes helps establish the mentality that healthy change is not necessarily painful change. It’s easy to build from here by adding more healthy substitutions which will lead to a healthier and happier year – mentally and physically.
Here is a list of our top 20 small changes that can make a big difference – just pick one that works for you:
Try the 'no morning internet challenge'
The internet offers plenty of temptations. You know how it goes – you wake up, open your phone to check your e-mails and five minutes later you’re watching a video on the finer points of marine biology in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. But even if you’re not among the 20% of people suffering from chronic procrastination, the constant exposure to the never-ending stream of content can sometimes derail even the most focused individual. If you’re not taking up the challenge, take this piece of advice: give your brain some room to breathe. If you can’t afford to disconnect completely, make sure you let your mind wander in peace, even if it’s only for ten minutes on waking.
Start your day with a healthy breakfast
Not everyone feels like eating first thing in the morning, so it doesn’t have to be anything huge, but having something small will stop you from being starving come 11am and then eating everything in sight.
Drink your greens
If you struggle to have the time to eat breakfast or really don’t feel like eating first thing, start each day with a green smoothie to get in lots of vitamins before you have even left the house. A smoothie doesn’t have to replace a meal, it can be in addition to one.
When you look in the mirror first thing in the morning, instead of being negative about yourself, give yourself a compliment. Perhaps you really like your smile – tell yourself that. It doesn’t have to be a compliment about the way you look – celebrate everything you can do, not just what you look like.
Stop saying "I can't"
Sometimes it is more of a mental battle than it is a physical one, so stop saying “I can’t" and say "I can't do that yet". Obviously this doesn’t apply to everything, but don’t say you can’t run 5km when it is just something that you can’t do right now.
Cut out the negative people
This isn’t always an option, but seeing less of those friends that are not supportive and just bring you down can make a big difference to your mental health.
Stop comparing yourself to others
The only person you are in competition with is yourself. Try to set personal bests and don’t worry about what other people are doing. Sure, you can be inspired by others, but we are all very different and we all go at a difference pace.
Plan your meals
Not only is meal planning a great moneysaving tip, but having your meals planned for the week helps you to make healthier choices, rather than just ordering a pizza because you had nothing else planned.
Cook more from scratch
Not only will this save you money, but you have total control over what is going into your meals, so they can be healthier. Things like pasta sauces and curry pastes are so quick and easy to make yourself, but the supermarket bought ones have lots of added salt and sugar.
Make time to relax
Being active is important for a healthy mind and body, but so is resting. Take some time out to read a book or have a bath. It doesn’t have to be hours, just 5 minutes to yourself can help you to reset.
Get a workout buddy
Some people prefer to work out alone, but having a workout buddy to help keep you motivated can increase your chances of keeping up a routine. It helps to have someone who's at the same level as you. You'd feel bad cancelling on someone if you had a workout date arranged, so you're more likely to make the session.
Keep photos to track your progress
Sometimes it can be hard to notice the changes that are happening every day, so take photos every few months to look back on if you're having a bad day. It isn’t about weight, or a number on the scale, but these photos remind you of how hard you have worked to become healthier. Also remember that a photo doesn’t show all the positive changes you are making inside and to your mental health.
Whether you work at home or in an office, sitting down all day and then coming home and sitting down in front of the TV all evening can be bad for us. Try to get up every 30-45 minutes and walk around – set an alarm on your phone if you need. If you work in an office, trying walking to your colleague's desk rather than sending them a quick email.
Random acts of kindness
Not only is doing nice things for other people a good thing to do for them, it will make you feel happier too.
Get a good night’s sleep
If you have trouble sleeping, try relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga or eat a small bedtime snack of foods shown to help shift the body and mind into sleep mode:
- wholegrain cereal with milk
- chamomile tea
Darken your room more and turn your clock away from you. Write down worries or stressful thoughts to get them out of your head and onto the page. This will help you put them into perspective, so you can stop worrying about them.
Try a new workout class
Check out the list of workout classes at your local leisure centre and try something new. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and you might even enjoy it. Look out for our new T30 classes – they are fun, fast and great for meeting new people.
Get outside more
Most people are not getting enough vitamin D, so head out into the sunshine and get some vitamins. Remember to stay safe in the sun, too!
Don’t obsessively weigh yourself
If losing weight is your focus, try not to keep your scales in the bathroom or anywhere you go regularly. There will be too much temptation to weigh yourself every day...or even every hour. Your weight is regulated by more than just what you eat and can change a lot. Try to stick to once a week if you want to weigh yourself.
Focus on health
It isn’t about a number on the scale or the size of your clothes but feeling better in yourself, so you are healthy enough to do everything you want to do. Focus on making small changes to be healthier, rather than obsessing over the scale.
Research shows a healthy, positive attitude helps build a healthier immune system and boosts overall health. Your body believes what you think, so focus on the positive. Everyone is an individual and has different needs.
Pick the tip that you think will work best to make you a healthier and happier person, and focus on that.