So you’ve decided that this will be the year that you’ll gradually get healthier.
You probably have an idea in mind how you’d like things to turn out: running your first race, feeling fabulous in your bikini next summer or exude a Zen-like calm in the midst of chaos. If you have a chronic illness, you may simply dream of having less pain, more energy and being able to pick up your favourite hobby again. But where do you begin to make this happen?
Here are two questions to ask yourself when you start creating your action plan to get healthier.
“Which small change or improvement will have the biggest positive impact in my life?”
Would losing weight give your health a serious boost? Would your day-to-day life be much simpler if you could painlessly move around on foot or increase your mobility in other ways? Or would you feel much happier if you’d have enough energy to run after your kids, hang out with friends or go on that dream trip?
Asking yourself which change or improvement will have the most impact on your life also requires you to question your true goals and motives. For example, will you really feel happier when you reach a certain number on the scales? Or is there an underlying desire you’re looking to fulfill, like feeling good about your body, being fit enough to join fun activities or feeling loved and included? Maybe there’s a more direct way to fulfill those desires than focusing on your goal weight?
When choosing one specific health goal you’ll focus on, don’t overlook the not-so-sexy aspects of healthy living and quality of life. It might be trendy to do a fitness challenge, but high-quality rest, good stress management or a more positive thinking pattern could have a much bigger influence on your health than an Instagram-worthy lifestyle. Getting enough sleep, for example, lays the foundation for restoration, affects countless of bodily functions and increases your chances to sticking to healthy habits.
So what does ‘get healthier’ mean to you?
“What is the one small thing I can do consistently to improve my wellbeing?”
Now that you’ve determined which improvement – less pain, better sleep, improved fitness – will make the most impact, it’s time to identify what you need to do to make that happen.
It’s tempting to make drastic lifestyle changes for big and quick results – but that’s a recipe for disaster. Starting a vigorous exercise regimen and overhauling your diet sounds impressive, but changing a single behaviour already requires a lot of brainpower. Instead of wanting too much too soon and quitting as a result, you should focus on less to achieve more in the long run.
And it’s not as if a single small change can’t have a significant impact on your health and happiness. Sometimes adding one healthy routine to your daily life can have a positive effect in multiple areas of your life. For example, going for a walk every morning not only increases your fitness levels and mobility, but also boosts your circulation, clears your mind and lets you soak up the ‘sunshine vitamin’ D. Other times, a multifunctional habit can trigger a chain of positive reactions. Eating veggies with every meal, for example, will help you make healthier food choices over all.
Here are some ideas of doable healthy habits:
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
- Give yourself a bedtime and create a relaxing nighttime ritual.
- Do one yoga pose a day.
- Add leafy greens to your daily diet.
- Take 500 more steps every day this month than you’ve done for the past weeks.
- Swap (diet) soda and fruit juices for flavoured water, veggie juice or homemade iced tea.
For more inspiration, have a look at 101 small things you can do today to boost your health and happiness or start creating your own action plan for recovery today.
True change takes time, patience and persistence, but it all starts by answering these two questions. So what will you do to get healthier this year?
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