If you’re trying to boost your health but don’t have the motivation, time or interest to completely overhaul your lifestyle, a helpful strategy is to pick simpler lifestyle tweaks that require less effort.
I refer to this as ‘picking the low hanging fruit’ or simpler strategies that are easier to implement.
Here are some examples:
1-Add a Fruit or Vegetable to Each of Your Meals
If you look at surveys, you’ll see that most people don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits. But these low-calorie, plant-based nutrition powerhouses are critical for optimizing your health.
Add some berries to your cereal, cucumbers and tomatoes to a lunchtime sandwich and a side vegetable salad to your dinner meal.
Spend some time in the produce aisle so these good-for-you foods make it into your grocery cart and home.
The goal is for these healthy foods to help crowd out the less healthy foods from your daily diet.
2-Keep Most Problematic Foods out of Your Home
We all have those tempting foods that keep calling our name. Maybe it’s chips, cookies, ice cream or the like.
Instead of forbidding yourself to ever enjoy those foods again, a better strategy is to not have them in your home.
Your home is the one environment you can best control; make it a safe haven!
Finding healthy substitutions for these foods you crave is also helpful. You may consider popcorn instead of chips, low calorie frozen fruit bar instead of ice cream and making your own calorie-controlled sweet dessert like ‘energy bites’ instead of cookies.
Having healthy substitutes that you find enjoyable and satisfying will lessen your feelings of deprivation. Feeling deprived of favorite foods is what leads many to veer away from their healthy lifestyle program.
3-Take a Stand and Walk around Each Hour
Even if you’re a morning, afternoon or evening regular exerciser, being sedentary the rest of your day can be detrimental to your health.
That’s because we all sit too much – at our computers, in our cars and on our couches.
Whether you’re at your home or office, a good strategy is to get up every hour and walk around. This can be as good for your mind as well as your body.
Walking inside or outside as well as climbing stairs can give you an energy boost as well.
Within minutes of standing up, your muscles are contracting and your body is changing the way it handles insulin.
4-Set a Sleep Schedule
We know that poor sleep can impair your ability to follow key healthy lifestyle habits.
Even with the best intentions, feeling tired saps the energy we all need to make healthful food choices and keep our bodies active and moving.
Some simple sleep schedule tweaks can help.
Take some time to establish a bedtime routine that you find relaxing. This may include taking a warm shower or bath, doing stretches, practicing meditation or reading a book.
Even if your current home or work schedule has changed, you can still set up the same wake-up time each day and stick to it.
Having a comfortable, cool and calm sleep environment can also nudge better sleep and health habits long term.
Though these 4 low hanging fruit examples resonate with many of my patients, they may or may not ring true to you.
It’s important to look critically at your own lifestyle habits and figure out some simple steps you can start doing today.
To help people look at their own lifestyle habits that can affect weight gain, I developed a short, scientifically-validated Six Factor Quiz. You can take my Six Factor Quiz here and gain insight into your lifestyle habits.
Attaining healthier habits begins with self-awareness.
Enjoy your health!
Robert Kushner, MD