Waiting for the perfect plan and the perfect time? Don’t let perfect be the enemy of progress (and your good health).
First, forget about the word ‘exercise’ for right now.
Even most people who are already working out three or four times per week are still sitting on their butts for most of the day (table, car, desk, car, counter, car, table, couch) then off to bed. These people don’t need more exercise, they need more movement. So?
..and by move, I mean walk. Walk, with an ultimate goal to hit about five miles per day on average.
Don’t even worry about long walks on most days. Save those for the weekend. Instead, walk some and walk often throughout the day, whenever possible. Short walks, like 5 minutes every 30 minutes are the best way to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar by up to 20%
Lots of little walks are powerful, and they add up fast.
If you’re eating like most of The Western World eats, then forget the word ‘nutrition’ for the moment.
Instead of worrying about the details of nutrition, worry about cooking your own meals. People who cook their own meals (or who eat the food cooked for them by a family member, I guess) get better nutrition and eat fewer calories than those who eat meals out.
Each meal eaten ‘away from home’ increases calorie intake by 134 calories and lowers diet quality by two points on the Healthy Eating Index. That’s enough to take you from fair to poor on the HEI and add about two pounds to the scale each year.
Let’s all laugh at the word ‘lifestyle,’ because it’s something that you talk about on Oprah, The View, or Fox and Friends, not with your actual friends. So, instead of worrying about your whole freakin lifestyle, just start going to bed earlier, which leads to a better lifestyle. Now listen up…
More sleep means more energy tomorrow, better concentration and productivity at work, and more willpower tomorrow night. Think of all the things those things can lead to! Can you say more movement, fewer cravings? …weighloss?
Yep. Going to be an hour earlier is one of the best ways to improve your life, overall. When you go to bed earlier, you tend to sleep longer, sleep deeper, and wake up better rested (whether you actually sleep longer or not).
Why earlier? Well, sleep hours closer to sunset are more valuable to your brain than the sleep hours just before dawn. We (as a species) are used to all those years when we went to bed when it got dark and got up when the sun rose. We can only fight that so long, and when we ‘win’ that fight, we lose. It just means poor sleep and crankiness during the day.
What are the three simple things?
Notice I didn’t say easy, I said simple.
If I could rank these three things, I’d tell you sleep is #1, but I know you won’t like that, so I’ll start with movement. Walk. More often, then more. Eventually try to get 5k steps per day on average.
Next week, try eating at home as often as possible. Make your food. Don’t worry about what you make, but actually make it. No tv dinners or instant ramen, but I’m going to say canned soup is a good start when you can’t cook a full blown meal.
The week after, if you have it in you, go to bed an hour early. If you just have to watch a favorite show, watch it in the morning. Packing your lunch? Make it while your coffee is brewing.
These three simple tips are some of the most powerful lifestyle* changes you can make to dramatically improve your life. Fast.
Simple, and not always easy, but you can do it.
* I would actually love to be on Oprah, and I’d use the word ‘lifestyle’ like it’s nobody’s business!