When you’re looking to get healthy, it can be difficult to know what things you should focus on first. The mega and mini challenges laid out each week are a great starting point, but of course there are many other areas you need to take a look at as well.
They should all be a focus at some point, but prioritizing them in roughly this order can help you be more successful and keep you from getting overwhelmed!
- First, we’re going to focus on ADDING in a few key things: water, fruits, and vegetables. Fill your diet with these, and eliminating unhealthy things will be a bit less daunting, and will help to heal and protect your body against illness.
- Next up, we have to eliminate the things that harm our health the most, as well as affect our food cravings and mental health. Cut back on (or eliminate) alcohol and heavily processed foods. Anything that comes from a package and has a list of ingredients is considered processed, but it is up to you to determine which foods you need to avoid the most. Everything from canned soup and frozen entrees to cookies and crackers should be reduced, as they all contain unhealthy ingredients that take a toll on your health. In addition, they are almost always made to be “hyper-palatable,” which means they are designed to make you crave more of that food than you would normally eat so that you will buy more, exactly what the food manufacturing companies want! Focus on the unhealthy foods you tend to consume the most often, rather than the things you eat occasionally. If you drink pop every day or eat ice cream 4x per week, those things should go first!
- Start moving your body more. Notice that I placed two nutrition steps before the exercise? That’s because I want you to avoid the mindset that an unhealthy diet can just be worked off in the gym. You need to clean up your diet in order to get significant results and to improve your health, no matter how much you work out! That being said, exercise will provide you with a multitude of other health benefits, and can often help people to become more aware of their diet choices!
- Cut back on portion sizes. If you drastically overeat, you could look at this as being more important, but it likely isn’t as harmful as eating the unhealthy foods we talked about above. Believe it or not, eating healthier foods can naturally help you curb your overeating habits! Now, if you still think you are overeating even after improving your diet, start to eat more slowly and wait before going back for seconds. You can also use smaller dishes and containers, and practice serving yourself about ¼ less food at mealtimes.
- Prioritize sleep. Start going to bed earlier or sleeping in a little longer when possible, but that’s easier said than done, right? Be sure to optimize your sleep environment, as I have discussed in a recent article, by using the most comfortable mattress, blankets, and pillows you can find, and blocking out as much light as possible. This will help ensure you’re getting quality sleep, even if you aren’t getting a lot of it. Sleep is crucial for lowering stress levels, improving your immune system, and maintaining or achieving a healthy weight…among many, many other things!