One piece of cheesecake won’t make you immediately pack on the pounds, eating one salad won’t instantly make the unwanted pounds melt away. On the contrary, it’s the healthy habits we choose to do every day that add up and get us closer to our goals or backs us further away from them.
Pick just one of the following 10 healthy habits to try every day this week. Once you get that down, stack the next one on top.
1. Listen to your body
At the end of the day, being in tune with your body’s own version of “normal” is the best thing you can do. It’s important to recognize when your body needs rest and even when your body needs more movement. Healthy people are in sync with their bodies and listen to signals that alert them to when they’re hungry, dehydrated, inflamed, or even getting sick. By paying closer attention to your energy and how your body feels overall, you can better provide it with what it needs.
2. Keep fit company
Have you ever noticed that when your friends order pizza, and you’re totally indifferent, you still end up eating pizza? Hanging out with like-minded people (read: fit-minded) can help you stick to your goals. If your buddy wants to hit up that spin class instead of brunch this weekend, you might want to keep him close by. It’s much easier to stay consistent when you’ve got a partner or two by your side!
3. Eat healthy fat
Research continues to support the benefits of consuming healthy fats like those found in olive oil, nuts, and avocado. Fit people simply don’t fear the fat—they just keep portions at bay. The American Heart Association emphasizes just how important it is to reduce trans fats and increase polyunsaturated fats in the diet to protect against heart disease. Healthy fats also contribute to greater feelings of satiety and can work to prevent unhealthy cravings as a result.
4. Don’t judge others
One of the hardest parts about sticking to a diet is doing so while remaining social. Going to the bar or out to dinner with friends can make it difficult to say no to food and drinks that have the ability to derail your diet in a matter of sips or bites. However, those who do exercise their will power at social gatherings also choose to let those around them make their own dietary choices. Making your peers comfortable is just as important as finding balance and peace for yourself.
5. Eat carbs every day
Carbohydrates give your body the energy it needs to function properly and make it through the day. Just as not all calories are created equal, not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal and sweet potatoes take longer for your body to break down and as a result provide a steady supply of energy and work to ward off hunger pangs. Why not try out some overnight oats that everyone is buzzing about?
6. Be mindful of your steps
As in, have you walked 10,000 steps today? That’s the minimum recommended amount so that you aren’t considered a sedentary person. You don’t even have to strap on a pedometer or other tracker; if you have an iPhone and have the new iOS system, your phone automatically counts your steps for you (so long as you have it on your person). Look for the white icon with the heart that’s labeled “Health.” Plus, walking for weight loss is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get started down the healthy habits path, pun intended! Plain and simple: Don’t sit if you want to be fit.
7. Ignore the scale
Weighing yourself can give you a decent indication of where you are and where you should be regarding weight. But it’s not necessarily the best indicator of health and fitness. Your body mass index, how your clothes fit, what your energy levels are like daily, and your annual check-ups with your doctor all give you a better sense of where you stand in terms of health and overall fitness.
8. Be active outside the gym
Making it to the gym a few times during the week is a task in and of itself. However, those who put a premium on living a healthy lifestyle don’t stop there. Healthy folks weave activity into their everyday by taking walks during lunch, playing tennis on the weekends, or playing tag with your kids.
9. Get a good night’s sleep
We’re all guilty of staying up too late binge-watching Netflix. But if you want to commit to a healthier lifestyle, sleep has got to be one of your top priorities. If you’re serious about getting healthier and losing a little weight, skip the late night television and get some sleep already. It will make those morning workouts a lot more bearable, too.
10. Don’t overdo exercising
On the flip side, fitness folks know that rest is just as important as activity. It’s possible to overdo it at the gym and exhaust yourself to the point where you’re no longer productive. Taking days off to rest your body and to allow your body to recover is equally as important as working it out in the first place. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a day off in between your workouts.
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