You know how often a trigger can happen in life that causes us to want to make a big change?
Sore back = I should start stretching
A headache = I should drink more water
Weight gain = I should start exercising
Declining health = I should eat better
Tired all the time/dependent on coffee = I should go to sleep earlier
Many times, a pivotal moment in our life is what gives us a sense of urgency to make a change and often this is after the fact (reactive) to a situation. We have all heard before how regular stretching, adequate sleep, exercise and healthy eating can improve our quality of life but we don’t often make it a priority until the desire to change is more than the desire to stay the same.
I used to suffer all of the above things, headaches, chronic lower back pain, realising I gained 10kg and my diet was terrible and exercise non-existent.
My goal is to provide straightforward tips to improve your quality of life and realistically implement these changes. First off, we aren’t trying to go from zero to hero (massive changes all at once), because often this leads to burning out or a low adherence to change when it’s overwhelming.
Practical ways to implement change and incorporate positive lifestyle changes:
- How to stretch? When sitting at a desk – rotate ankles in clockwise > anticlockwise direction, tilt head side-to-side, clasp hands together and stretch above your head, stretch your calves on the stairs. Look for ways to move your body more by getting up at least every hour to stretch your legs and get everything moving. We are meant to move!
- Arrive 10mins before you exercise (if you currently go to the gym) and dedicate this to movement preparation, warming up/using the body parts you intend to work in your session with bodyweight movements.
- Put a yoga mat in front of the TV and use the time watching your favourite show to increase your flexibility.
- Watch this 5 Minute FULL Body Stretch Routine!
Adequate Water Intake
- Keep a reusable drink bottle on you at all times (handbag, gym bag, cup holder) to increase the likelihood of reaching for it.
- Add in fresh lemon juice or mint to add flavour if you struggle to drink large quantities by itself.
- How much water do I need?
- Think about what it is that interests you (group training or solo), (weights or new equipment) and if you don’t know try a few things to find out what you like.
- Start gradually building up the amount of exercise/difficulty of the session and intensity you train to avoid injury and burning out. Try 3 days initially before committing to more, as you will be sore when you first start. Example, Monday-Wed-Friday (with a rest day in between).
- Get social, organise to meet a friend for a walk or at the gym to increase accountability and support and provide a social/fun aspect of an activity you look forward to.
- Utilise resources available online such as workout split ideas or home workout programs or hire a PT initially to customise a program to your goals and show the correct technique to teach you the skills to smash your goals!
- Aim for a diverse range of food that is predominately unprocessed, whole plant-based foods (grains, fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds).
- Meal prep, to take the guesswork out of ‘what to eat’ or as a way to avoid junk food temptation. You could start by just prepping breakfast/lunch or making a large batch of dinner to last a few days. Once you get more confident in cooking large quantities you could experiment.
- Easy overnight oats recipe (1/2 cup of oats, 1/2 mashed banana, a small handful of dates, almond milk – can be made 2-3 days in advance and microwaved in the morning for 60-90seconds).
- Be prepared and stocked up on snacks on the go (trail mix in your handbag, protein bar in the glove box, fruit in work fridge etc). The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to stick to. And if/when you slip up and things don’t go to plan, move on (it’s not the end of the world), just get back on track and keep going (you can do this!).
- Stop drinking coffee late in the evening to avoid being wired at night (stop at 2pm or earlier).
- Avoid distraction in your room such as taking a laptop to bed or watching TV in bed.
- Have a ‘pre-bed’ routine such as a herbal tea, shower, moisturise that gets you in the mode for sleep.
- How much sleep do I need?
Make yourself a priority in your own life! By implementing changes rather than waiting for a trigger is an important part of self-love and care. We often get so busy and put off doing things for ourselves. Make small changes to incorporate into your daily routine to develop habits that will increase your health and happiness long term.