No one starts the week planning to be unhealthy, but after a long day at work or school it’s sometimes just easier to order food for delivery, maybe have a glass or two of wine, and perhaps a sweet treat while you veg out. Indulgences can definitely feel good in the moment, but if they turn into regular habits your health could definitely take a downturn. But you knew that.
The good news: The path back to healthy living doesn’t have to mean overwhelming yourself with a rigid plan. Some of the best ways to incorporate healthy choices into your life are super simple, and inherently flexible. To get you back on the right track, we partnered with AstraZeneca to offer some easy and actionable steps you can use to live well and feel great this week.
1. Ease In
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to improve their health is jumping in too intensely all at once ― which can set them up to fail. Ease your way into a sensible plan that fits your lifestyle, and recognize that the less drastic the changes, especially when you’re just starting out, the more likely they are to become permanent.
Start out the week with a food and exercise journal so you can see where you have opportunities for improvement, and so you can stay accountable.
2. Be Goal-Oriented
Where do you want to be a week from now? A month? Next year? Setting reachable and measurable goals just for this week ― and they can be as simple as “go for a walk after dinner three times” ― will keep you on track and give you a feeling of accomplishment that helps you move forward. Set them too high, and your first slip-up will feel like a huge failure.
To start, it may help to incorporate the management strategy known as “SMART”; goals ought to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. You can use tools like an app on your phone or chart to keep track of progress and help you stay motivated.
3. Take A Walk
The simple act of getting up and walking can do amazing things for your health. Engaging in regular physical activity improves one’s blood sugar control and has been linked to a positive effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Barring an injury or impediment, anyone can get out and get moving, and it’s easy to add steps to your day without disrupting your duties ― taking the dog for a walk, using the stairs instead of the elevator, and making sure to get up from your desk every hour are all simple ways to clock more mileage and keep your body moving.
If you need help getting started, follow this guide for tips on how to incorporate more walking into your life.
4. Nurture Your Skin
Taking care of your skin is an important part of total body health, but for many of us, our largest organ has become easy to neglect. It’s as though we take our outer layer for granted. You may not have time for an all-out pampering session, but a basic commitment to skin care can go a long way toward delaying the aging process and preventing future skin problems.
Be sure you’re washing your face, moisturizing your body and wearing sunscreen every day. The results will show up in the mirror.
5. Unplug And Appreciate The Little Things
We live in a world of screens. While smartphones, computers and other technology are a key part of our existence, there’s something to be said for a digital detox now and then. Carve out time in your life, away from screens, to connect with yourself, your significant other, your children ― any of your loved ones. Your mind and body will thank you!
6. Buddy Up
Teaming up on a new health kick with a friend, family member or partner has a ton of benefits: You can share goals, enjoy time being active together, and keep each other accountable. It’s easy to skip a workout if it only affects you; it’s a lot harder to do if someone else is counting on you to show up.
Consider sharing your progress with friends and family through social media. Their encouragement can help keep you motivated!
7. Focus On Sleep
It’s no secret that sleep is vital for optimal health. The trouble for most of us is making sleep a priority when it already feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Here’s how: set a goal for your bedtime, and take the hour before that time to prepare, whether that means turning the lights down and your screens off, putting your kids to bed, reading a book, or anything else that helps ease the chaos of the day into a nighttime lull.
8. Take A Healthy Grocery Trip
Intention is everything. Plan your meals out for the week ahead so you know you’re getting a proper nutrient balance. What is the right balance? The USDA’s “Choose My Plate” site is a great resource for learning what types and portion sizes of fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy your body needs.
Most of us know to avoid the grocery store when we’re hungry. A recent study out of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University takes that advice a step further, finding that what you eat before hitting the supermarket is also important; having a healthy snack before shopping not only decreases hunger, but also can influence your shopping choices for the better.
9. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
Yes, we know, this hydration mantra is hammered home frequently. But for good reason. Drinking plenty of water not only keeps your body running, it improves kidney and bowel function, hydrates your skin and can help to prevent illness.
Bonus: A 2016 study from the University of Illinois demonstrated that just drinking two to three extra glasses of water a day can prevent you from consuming more than 200 needless calories. So drink up!
Routine is an important part of life for anyone living with type 2 diabetes, whether that means planning meals, taking medications, or finding time to get up and move around. To learn more about how you can integrate a regular walking routine into your life, check out the Everyday Steps guide and take it one step at a time.