This post is sponsored by Premier Protein. Thanks for supporting our sponsors.
If you’ve been around the blog any time at all, you know that I’m all about being healthy for the long haul. That means no crash diets or cleanses, no extreme fitness programs and no all-or-nothing approaches. I’m not into labels, and I’m not into a “no-days-off” mindset. I’ve learned this the hard way through many years of working out too much, and now I’m a changed (and healthier) lady, who lives for rest days. (You can find out more about that in my ebook “Fit and Fertile,” by the way.)
But, I don’t want to sit here and tell you what to believe or which program or philosophy you should follow. I want you to be empowered to make your own decisions, but know that you don’t have to seek hardcore extremes to feel better, to look better and ultimately to get healthier. And you also don’t have to go Paleo or gluten free just to feel like you are part of the wellness world. In fact, you can make super small steps each day to improve your overall well-being, and yet, still eat ice cream and lay on the couch sometimes and be considered perfectly healthy. Take it from me! Here we go …
Five ways you can have a healthier day
Here’s how you can have a healthier day, and maybe you can pick out a few of these things and do just one to start for the first week, then you can add on another thing, and next thing you know, you’ve adopted a few new or different healthy habits to your routine in less than a month. (But only if these ideas work for you and for your life. If they don’t, then don’t do them.)
1. Drink an entire glass of room temperature water as soon as you get up in the morning.
Trust me on this one. It will start your day off better, if you clear out your system and start the hydration process immediately upon rising, before anything else (keep a big glass ready by your bed-side). Over the course of the night, your body produces a lot of toxins, and if you drink a big glass of water as soon as you wake up, you’ll speed up the process of moving those toxins out of your system. And don’t let the water consumption stop there — keep drinking a lot of water throughout the day — maybe even more than you think you need. You’ll have so much more energy if you approach the day hydrated.
2. When you leave the house, pack healthy protein-filled snacks or a bring home-made lunch with you to work.
Did you know that some fitness professionals think that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to your overall health? It’s true. And almost all of those fitness professionals will tell you that if you make your own food or bring your own snacks, you are much more likely to eat something healthier than if you buy food while you’re out and about. And they will also tell you that you can’t out-train a bad diet. (By the way, I think that being religious about bringing your food is for everyday occurrences like work, etc., I’m not talking about when you are on a trip or a vacation, when clearly, you can get every meal out and that’s totally okay).
While you don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen meal-prepping to plan out every single morsel you will consume (but if you want some inspiration for meal prep, here’s my plan for five days of healthy lunches, and here are time-saving tips in the kitchen too), all you have to do is bring leftovers from dinner the night before for your lunch at work the next day, rather than swinging through a drive-through, or you can even bring a few easily assembled items, like hard-boiled eggs, an avocado and some nuts to make a healthy meal in a pinch. (Fun fact: When working in an office just last year, for nearly six months, I ate the same thing every single lunch. I would bring four hard-boiled eggs and a ripe avocado. That combination meant I didn’t have to prep anything at all (the hard-boiled eggs were store-bought), so I just packed it up and mixed it together when it was time to eat.)
Snacking is important too. If you know you have a busy day and will be going from one activity to the next, packing a protein bar or a protein shake to fill you up will make it so that you aren’t too tempted to hit the vending machine or a fast food place during your “hangry” time of need. For this, Dave and I have had a stash of Premier Protein ready-to-drink shakes and bars all year, and he goes through them so darn quickly, I can hardly get my hands on them — the flavors are amazing, but I think we’re both partial to chocolate and banana. But needless to say, we’re always prepared with snacks. If it’s not a bar or a shake, it’s a bag of trail mix and some fruit and always a bottle of water. Preparation is key!
3. Spend some time outside. Go for a short walk, without your phone, and bonus points if you can put your feet in the grass, and let your mind wander in silence for a moment.
Fresh air, vitamin D, silence and walking in nature are all good for your soul and for your health. There are numerous studies that show that there are true healing effects from spending time in or around a forest or collection of trees and greenery, and it can lower your cortisol (that’s the stress hormone, and you don’t want too much of it to maintain your healthy balance). While I realize that you may not have access to a lot of green-space during your day or work day, or you may be in an urban setting, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a lunch-time walk to clear your head, even in a concrete jungle. You’ll at least get fresh air and sunshine that way.
If you have a chance to find a patch of grass, take your shoes off and put your feet directly on the grass. There’s a special thing called “grounding or earthing,” and when your feet touch the earth, you get more of those calming properties transmitted from the soil up and through your body — it’s like magic. Also, spending a little time each day without technology is a beautiful gift for your mindset too. We all deserve it, and it’s part of the overall picture of health, even if it doesn’t have to do with food or fitness, per say.
4. Add some organic movement to your day, outside of your regular exercise.
Yes, exercise is good, but even if you spend an hour working out each day, that will not counteract an entire day of sitting. To truly up the healthy factor of your day, find a new way to add some organic movement. That means taking the stairs to your office rather than the elevator; or getting off one stop early from public transit, so you have to walk a little longer to your destination (Dave does this a lot, so I’ll credit him for this tip); or initiate a walking meeting, rather than a conference room meeting.
If you don’t go to an office each day, you can still get active by making your phone calls while on a walk, rather than sitting down. You can take your dog on an extra loop rather than watching TV. You can also practice parking further away from the store entrance while grocery shopping, or even sit on a stability ball in your home office, rather than in a chair, which will force you to use your ab muscles to sit up straight. (Speaking of posture, focusing on sitting up straight or standing up straight with your shoulders back and down is important all day long, because it sure helps your appearance and helps you maintain healthy neck and back alignment too. Think about one straight line running along the side of your body, from your ear, to your shoulder, to your hips, to make sure your spine and neck are properly stacked.)
There are so many ways to add activity to your daily life. No matter what you do, try to get up from your sitting position at least once an hour to move around. Fill up your water bottle, do 10 bodyweight squats or take a flight of stairs to keep your body in motion organically. It will help your energy levels, help your mobility and even burn some calories too.
5. Take a minute to authentically connect with others and connect with yourself too.
Now this one seems fluffy, doesn’t it? But hear me out: Having good social relationships is important for your overall well-being. And practicing a little self-love and gratitude is also important. So maybe you call a friend on the phone to catch up (gasp, a phone call, not a text), or you spend a few minutes in the mirror, telling yourself what you are most proud of in yourself. However you want to do it, know that connection, real human connection and appreciating yourself, will make you healthier. These things make you happier. These things make you better. So don’t forget the people aspect to your life, and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for doing a great job at being you!
There you have it in five small steps! Just choose one and go for it tomorrow or even today. Then, you can add on from there. And remember: Being healthy is not always about extremes or perfection or even six-pack abs, it’s about moving, breathing, being mindful, hydrating, nourishing your body with mostly good stuff and appreciating everything you have in your life. Go off and be well, my friends!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Premier Protein — a company all about giving you convenient products so you can have the energy and protein you need to have a great day, every day. While I received complimentary product and compensation, all words and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the A Lady Goes West sponsors.
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Questions of the day
What’s your favorite small step to get healthier?
How often do you take a walk without your phone?
What’s your favorite on-the-go snack?