healthy habits

There’s a reason most of us fail when we say we’ll “eat healthier” or “get in shape.” Those are huge goals that require change in almost every single part of life. A better approach to creating and staying with healthy habits is to make tiny changes that you can stick with. You’ll lose a little weight and feel a little better, which makes it a lot easier to incorporate more tiny improvements that will bring you closer to your really big health goals.

Here are 5 really simple healthy habits with really big pay-offs:

  1. Eat one really healthy meal a day: Pick one, but pick just one. We’re doomed to fail if we try to eat healthy all the time, so pick a meal and change what you eat. If you’re used to scarfing down a muffin and coffee for breakfast, or worse, skipping breakfast altogether, plan ahead to set yourself up for success. Hard boil a dozen eggs over the weekend, and pick up a loaf of whole wheat bread and your favorite fruit. By not having to decide what you’re eating for breakfast every morning you’ve already won half the battle.

  2. Take the scenic route: So much of our life -- too much! -- is spent sitting. Working all day at a desk job and commuting back and forth in our cars robs us of the natural movement we all need every day. Which means we need to create opportunities to walk and move. Going shopping? Park as far away as possible from the stores you’re hitting. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pick up the bus a few stops away rather than always going to the nearest one. Take a walk during your lunch break. Remember that it’s a lot more fun to walk to a friend’s house than it is to walk on a treadmill. You don’t have to go to a gym to work out.

  3. The “is it water?” rule: If it’s not water, don’t drink it. Of course we make exceptions for morning coffee or tea, and the occasional glass of wine with dinner, but during the day it’s all water, all the time. Think water’s boring? Add some fresh fruit, cucumber or mint for a fun twist. Things like juice, soda and sports drinks are packed with sugar which, as far as our bodies are concerned, are empty calories. They don’t fill us up and they always let us down. Hard.

  4. Stay connected: And by that we mean: with people, not your electronics. Research shows that having low social interaction is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes per day and is twice as bad for your healthy as obesity. And you don’t need to be the life of the party to reap the benefits. Grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend or taking a walk with your family absolutely counts.

  5. Wear sunscreen year-round: Forget the notion that sunscreen is reserved for being outside in the summer. It’s for every day. (Yes, even when it’s raining in Seattle.) Do you need to get all greased up in SPF 50 from head to toe? Certainly not. But even an inexpensive SPF 15 facial moisturizer applied every morning will go a long way towards not only protecting you from scary things like skin cancer, but also preventing lines and wrinkles, making you and your skin look younger.