When you think about doing a healthy lifestyle overhaul — simultaneously cleaning up your diet, exercising more and stressing less — it’s enough to send you running… right back to bed. That’s why it’s always better to start with small, manageable changes that can easily fit into your day. And we’re here to provide exactly that: 31 health hacks from experts in nutrition, fitness and mental health that offer a bite-size way to live smarter. But that doesn’t mean these little tips won’t lead to big changes! Try incorporating one every day this month, then carry your favorites with you for a fitter-than-ever 2022.
31 Ways to Kickstart a Healthy Lifestyle
1. Do a kitchen clean-out.
Take just 10 to 20 minutes to rearrange your pantry, fridge and countertop today, suggests Melina Jampolis, MD, author of Spice Up, Slim Down. Place chips or cookies in opaque containers in the back of your cabinets, and put cut veggies in clear storage bins and bags on top shelves. Leave out a bowl of fruit, too, so you can grab when you’re in the mood for something sweet.
2. Wake up five minutes earlier.
That’s just 300 seconds. Use this time to simply breath or do a quick meditation. “Sit up in bed and begin to take nice deep breaths,” suggests Kelsey Patel, certified reiki master and yoga instructor. “Say or think five things you’re grateful for and close the practice by envisioning yourself having an easy, healthy and joyful day.” Is there a better way to wake up?
3. Get moving first thing.
Go straight from your bed to the streets or your mat. Run a mile as fast as you can, do a 10-minute plyometric routine or work through a tough Tabata. Whatever you choose, put in some real effort and you’ll kick your metabolism into high gear, says pro CrossFit athlete Christmas Abbott.
4. Swap green tea for your first cup of coffee.
Give your body a gentler wake-up by swapping highly caffeinated java for some soothing tea. “It’s a kinder way to start the day, so you don’t burn out your energy first thing in the a.m.,” says Patel.
5. Check in with yourself.
Ask yourself how you’re doing at least one time in the next 24 hours. “Sometimes it helps to name your feelings,” says Jamie Price, creator of the Stop, Breathe & Think app. For instance, state if you’re feeling frustrated, angry or happy, which you can take some time to appreciate. “The simple act of naming can help create some distance and perspective, particularly if negativity pops up,” Price says.
6. Schedule a walking meeting.
If you do one thing to move more this month, make it sitting less. Studies link staying in your seat to a higher risk of premature death (even if you exercise on the regular), explains Dr. Jampolis. So start by taking one of your calls outside and around the block or catching up with a co-worker as you stroll to grab a cup of coffee.
7. Add flavor, without calories.
Lots of spices (think turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and rosemary) can enhance the flavor of your food, while also providing anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidants, says Dr. Jampolis. So add a little kick to your smoothie, stir fry, eggs, or salad dressings. These zero-calorie palate pleasers might even help you cut back on sugar and salt.
8. Take a bath.
Catching quality zzz’s deserves a top spot on your wellness priority list. So create a simple sleep-enhancing ritual, like soaking in Epsom salts or 300 to 500 milligrams of magnesium, recommends Samantha McKinney, a program manager at Life Time Fitness. “I always say, you have to earn your right to exercise intensely through eating right and sleeping well, otherwise you’re just adding more stress to your body,” she says. Set a timer to remind yourself to relax in the tub before bed.
9. Write down a sweat date.
Or a few! Take your best pal to yoga, get your S.O. to go for a run with you, or hit up your fittest friend for a strength training sesh. “Having a few people who are on board with your month of commitment means you’re less likely to bail out of a class,” says Abbott. “All of this is to help you have more accountability and stick to your commitment.”
10. Add an extra piece of fruit to your day.
Most people need more produce in their lives, and fruit also helps keep you hydrated, courtesy of its high H2O content, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color. Plus, it packs tons of disease-fighting antioxidants. Try some frozen wild blueberries in your overnight oats or add a cup of grapes to your salad at lunch.