Since it’s still January, the month of resolutions and clean slates, I’m sure healthy habits are top of mind for many of y’all, and I can definitely relate. (It’s hard how the New Year happens in the middle of winter, though, isn’t it? It can make some of those resolutions — like “Run outside more often” — kind of tricky.)
I by NO means have all this health stuff figured out, but I wanted to share some things I do to try to keep my lifestyle healthy. This is not intended to sound preachy at all, either. Maybe you’ll identify with or glean inspiration from some of these things. (That would be great!) Maybe you’ll think they’re not the right fit for your life. (Totally fine as well.) I also hope you’ll use the comments section to share some of your own advice for developing healthy habits with me.
- Drink more water.
Until pretty recently, I had the hardest time getting enough water every day. I’m not sure what the barrier was, exactly, but I was definitely not staying appropriately hydrated. Two key things helped me up my daily intake: limes and my S’well bottle.
I found that dressing up my water with limes makes it feel more exciting, so that’s my go-to beverage order in restaurants. When I got my 25-ounce S’well bottle last year, it became so easy to drink water all day. I love carrying it with me just about everywhere: to Pure Barre, to the gym, to meetings at work, on road trips, to the beach. In fact, aside from my phone it’s probably my most-used accessory. In fact, now I have two just so I have a back-up when I need it!
- Cut down on caffeine.
Caffeine doesn’t seem to have the traditional effect on me. I can drink a venti Starbucks coffee and have no trouble going to sleep immediately afterward. But I know that even though I don’t have the typical caffeine reaction, it doesn’t mean this stuff is good for me to be drinking in excess. Even though I can fall asleep easily after drinking it, my post-caffeine sleep might not be quality sleep. It makes you dehydrated. It can cause stomach irritation. Etc.
Since I don’t need caffeine to feel alert in the morning, I used that as an opportunity to try to really cut down. I’ve started replacing my morning coffee with warm lemon water, and try to drink decaf green tea throughout the course of the day when I feel like I want something warm. When I do drink coffee, I go for decaf when I can.
I know many of you reading this are thinking, “Yeah, no. I’m not giving up my morning coffee.” And that’s fine! You can still have a healthy lifestyle and drink caffeine, I’ve just learned that I can remove it without seeing negative side effects.
(And the lemon water thing: Before I started this practice, I thought it sounded terrible and lame. Come on, warm lemon water is supposed to replace my morning coffee? But now, for me, it does. I squeeze the juice of one lemon into a quart-sized mason jar and fill it about 90% full of boiling water, then add some cold water to help it be drinkable more quickly. I sip on that water as I get ready in the morning and that way before I leave for work I’ve already gotten 32 ounces of water for the day. It’s really not as terrible as it may sound.)
- Remove sodas from your diet.
All of these are beverage-related so far! I just realized that. I’ll keep this one short: we all know sodas aren’t great for us — even the diet ones. When I get a craving for something sparkly these days, I grab a sparkling water, add some fresh-squeezed lime juice, and feel super fancy. (Sparkling water tip: Kevin and I loooooove Topo Chico mineral water. It’s extra bubbly, comes in a great glass bottle, and is so delicious. You can probably find it in the Hispanic section of your local Walmart store. It’s literally the only thing I go to Walmart to get! Also, it’s hilarious to buy water imported from Mexico. So that’s a bonus.)
- Get plenty of sleep.
I used to think I was one of those people who could do just fine on limited sleep. I’ve since realized that’s not the case. All of us need at least eight and ideally nine hours of sleep per night. It can be hard to do when you’re busy and when you have to get up early, but as I’ve tried to get more regimented about sleep I’ve realized I have more energy and feel better during the day. Sleep is no joke, people. It’s easy to forget what a critical role it plays in your overall health, too. You can be doing everything else right and if you’re not getting enough sleep it throws a wrench in things.
So turn off the Netflix (points finger at self) — it will be there tomorrow and they’ll even save your spot. Stop playing on your phone. Don’t grab that late-night snack. Instead, call it a night. You’ll be so glad you did in the morning!
- Find a workout schedule that you can stick to.
For those of you who read my blog often or follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I talk/post about Pure Barre regularly. I’m pretty obsessed. A large part of that obsession is the fact that I feel grateful for Pure Barre in my life. Before PB, I couldn’t find a workout that I loved enough to really stick with or get excited about. I would jump around from thing to thing, but nothing was really doing it for me. Pure Barre, though, is a workout I instantly felt a connection with and now, 500+ classes later, my love for the barre still is still going strong.
Pure Barre is also offered at times that sync up well with my schedule, which is essential. I tend to go either in the morning at 6 a.m., or after work at 6:30 p.m. Whether I’m attending a Pure Barre class in the morning or not, though, I do try to get a morning workout in whenever I can (these days, in addition to PB, I’m hitting up spin classes at the gym or Metabolic Effect classes — more on that soon!). I’ve found that, for me, mornings work well. It’s time I can (almost always) count on being available, and once I made it a consistent practice that 5:20 wake-up call started being more and more doable — promise.
Regardless of when you choose to work out, though, my advice would be to examine your schedule and consider what time of day you can really commit to. Then try out some different workouts until you find one you really love. Then go with that — and keep going with that until it feels like something’s missing if you don’t go.
- Hang out with healthy folks.
Whether they’re in-person relationships or ones you’ve developed online (shout-out to Facebook and Instagram for helping to make connections!), if you surround yourself with active people, you’re more likely to be active and motivated as well — and enjoy it. After all, if you can weave activity into a social outing (think hiking, rock climbing, walking the dog, running a 10K, etc.), you’re killing two birds with one stone. The same goes for diet: you’re more likely to eat healthily when your friends eat that way, too. (I’m so glad Kevin and I have similar health goals so we can keep our fridge and pantry packed with healthy stuff and limit the processed snacks and sweets.)
But remember, too, to do your thing. If you’re determined to make good food choices during a dinner out with friends who are ordering differently than you, it’s fine to stick with your plan and go for a salad or salmon with veggies or something. But also don’t beat yourself up if you have a few fries your friend ordered for the table to share. Because come on — life’s more fun with a few fries.
- Recognize that there’s flexibility.
This was a tough one for me. “It’s all about moderation,” they say. Right? But moderation can be hard! The whole “I’ll just have one cookie…” turns into three cookies, and before long you feel like it’s not even worth going to workout later because of said three cookies. (At least, that was my mindset until very recently.)
To help combat this, I had to stop looking at every day as an isolated event and see the bigger picture instead. If I was making good food choices most of the time, then spending a weekend with friends or family (where often food choices aren’t up to you) it’s okay to pull back from your typical diet a bit and just enjoy being together and enjoy the food. Similarly, if you want a cookie every now and then? Go for it! Eat a cookie! Enjoy the cookie and the move ON. No need to agonize over every food choice if you’re doing things right most of the time. (The same is true for workouts, too. Take a day off every now and then when you’re out of your routine and don’t sweat it. It’s good for you!)
What healthy habits have you formed? Please share!