Countdown To Healthy Living

Slow and steady progress can help you achieve your wellness goal. Make living healthier a habit by building on small successes. Get started now with these simple steps!

woman runing along a field

We all do it to some degree: make promises to ourselves to live a healthier lifestyle, and then find that our best intentions get lost in the pace of busy lives. We plan to eat more nutritious meals, get enough exercise and rest, break bad habits, control stress and work to improve our overall wellness. Small steps can get you started and help establish a routine that you can stick to for a year of healthier living!

Start small

Set achievable goals. Instead of planning to lose 40 pounds in three months, focus on shedding the first five! Keep that doable goal in mind and build on each success. Reaching goals in "bite-sized" pieces will feel like consistent accomplishments and keep you enthused. You can do without a cigarette or sugary soda and calorie-laden snack for one day. Build on that, and do it again. The days become weeks and months!

Don't try to change everything at once. Begin moderating your diet so you include more healthy foods each week, adding lean proteins, wholesome whole grains and plenty of fresh produce. As you gradually add in a good item, eliminate a bad one. Maybe you'll decide to stop stocking the refrigerator with soft drinks and save them as a special treat to occasionally enjoy when you're out. Purging them from your home removes the temptation to splurge!

Focus on fitness

You may never run five miles every morning or be a regular at the gym, but you can still focus on improving your fitness. Find ways to move more every day. Park the car and run errands on foot, walk the dog, play outside with your kids or take a family walk or bike ride. Find a sport you enjoy and a friend or family member to play it with you. Always use the stairs instead of the elevator. Even doing house and yard work can burn calories and keep you moving. Buy a pedometer and count your steps. Then try to add 100 more each day. Just a walk around your neighborhood gets you on your way to fit!

Buy a fitness or dance video and make it a family affair to run through it weekly. Kids love dancing, so crank up the tunes and get everyone moving. New fitness games for Xbox and Kinect have you use your body as the controller. You'll play and get your cardio workout while having fun.

Sleep well

Getting adequate sleep is vital to wellness, so don't fall behind on what your body needs. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier, and try to establish a regular bedtime. Be calm and quiet in the hour before bed so you hit the sack relaxed and ready to snooze.

Track your progress, and if you slip up, pick yourself back up and move on. Blowing your diet or skipping your exercise doesn't make you a failure -- it just proves you're human. Keep going slow and steady to achieve 52 weeks of wellness.

Quick Tip

Make yourself a chart or use a calendar to record your progress. Just like a chore chart, check off days that you stay on track nutritionally and with your exercise plan. You’ll be surprised at the pleasure it brings to see that wellness practices are becoming your habit!

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