16 Simple Ways to Day-by-Day Quickly Improve Your Health
Use a Simple Daily Log to Track Your Daily and Monthly Goals
In a fast-paced world, with high daily demands, it's harder than ever to monitor our personal health and wellness and give self-care time and attention. With obesity, diabetes, depression, and autoimmune diseases at an all-time high, the time to start paying attention to our body and mind is now.
I know what you're thinking. "Another health and wellness article telling me how I should eat, exercise, and organize my life". While this is true, I want to make this a fun task, not a chore. I not only provide a daily checklist but also daily choices that are a breeze to follow.
Everyone is busy, and time is minimal. The kids keep you on the move, jobs are demanding, and relationships erratic. If there's one thing I've learned in my 52 years as a mother of four, nurse, runner, and queen of late blooming, it's if you don't take time to care for your own mental and physical well-being, your life will continue on a chaotic path to poor health, which can lead to disaster in your later years. Your to-do list gets longer, while your bucket list grows shorter and we spend most of our waking hours chasing our tails, feeling overwhelmed, sick, and tired. These are the facts of how most Americans live today.
Americans are overworked, unrested, generally overweight, and eat terrible. When I started traveling abroad back in 2016, my eyes opened to how terrible we treat our bodies compared to other parts of the world. My husband and I spent three weeks in Eastern Europe, touring seven different countries. There are five things we noticed they all had in common:
- Very little obesity
- Movement; both on foot and on bicycles
- Less fast food sources, more fresh produce and meats, and smaller portions when dining
- Social climate; gathering to eat and listen to music with friends is commonplace
- Wine, coffee, and still or sparkling waters are consumed over soda with meals.
Print This Weekly Checklist and Mark Off Your Daily Accomplishments
Drink a Daily Java or Tea Without Refined Sugars or Artificial Sweeteners
It's a no-brainer starting your day with a sugar bolus sets you up for a mid-morning crash. Not only will your pancreas thank you, but you'll learn to enjoy the actual flavor of coffee that is missed when masking it with sugary calories or fake sweeteners. The healthiest way to drink coffee is black, but most folks do not enjoy the bitterness and turn to sugar and sugar-infused creamers. I personally prefer a splash of half and half, a touch of butter, and sprinkled cinnamon in my morning latte. Ditch the sugar bowl, artificial sweeteners, and those five pumps of your favorite syrup at Starbucks, for these simple and healthy substitutes instead:
Eat Organic Fruits, Vegetables, Dairy and Meat Whenever Possible and Cook With Healthy Fats
Organic means free of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, cruelty-free, and humanely raised. My favorite motto is "you are what the animal or plant you just ate, ate". Do you really want that stuff inside your body? I hope not!
Eating healthy and organic is not always easy when traveling or eating out. You can pack your own organic snacks and meals when possible, on road trips or when flying, and be as selective as you can. It's nearly impossible to do anything at 100%, but your best efforts can make all the difference in how you look and feel in your body. Your skin and internal organs will thank you for the strong efforts and so will your wallet with less medical bills!
Visit farmer's markets. The small farmer works hard to bring you the best and most wholesome produce and meats. Cut out the middle man and buy direct from them whenever possible. Grow your own food when the season permits. Most of us don't have the luxury of land and growing space. You can improvise by building raised bed gardens or using multiple large containers with organic soil. This is the I have. It's also easy to build (just be sure NOT to use pressure-treated lumber due to the toxic chemicals infused into it. Cedar, cypress, or redwood work best for longevity, but expect to replace the boards every five years or so). I bought my organic garden soil in bags from Home Depot. I plant tomatoes, peppers, green beans, lettuce, eggplant, onions, carrots, radishes, celery, and an herb garden. I always have plenty to share and freeze what I can't use right away. I even got a free rain barrel from my city, so watering my garden is always easy and inexpensive. 4x8 foot raised garden
Research suggests that organic foods may have higher nutritional value. This is due to the absence of pesticides and fertilizers that allow the plant to produce more vitamins and antioxidants. Some studies have linked pesticides in food to everything from headaches, cancer, and birth defects. Even low-level pesticide exposure can be significantly more toxic for fetuses and children (due to their less-developed immune systems) and for pregnant women.
Say NO To Sugary, Processed, Artificial, and Salty Snacks
I have one word for this, poison. I can list 100 reasons why sugar is the devil in disguise, but I will spare the lecture and touch on the big ones.
- Sugar affects your body's ability to regulate insulin. This is very taxing on your body and can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, which is chronic, life-altering, and even life-threatening.
- Sugar causes fat storage, which leads to obesity, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases, not to mention fatigue and depression. The recommended maximum daily intake of sugar, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), is 6 teaspoons/100 calories for women and 9 teaspoons/150 calories for men.
- Artificial sweeteners can mimic the action of sugar when metabolized by the body. They contain non-natural ingredients research shows to be harmful to our health.
Names for added sugars on labels include:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Malt sugar
- Raw sugar
- Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
Salt is another demon that contributes to increased blood pressure, thirst, water retention, and bloating. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium intake per day.
Salt is in just about everything, including canned and bottled vegetables and sauces. Be sure to read labels carefully, even if you don't think an item contains salt, go easy on the shaker. Taste your food first before adding salt.
Drink 7-8 Glasses of Water
This is my number one healthy choice I make every day and have my whole life. I attribute my life-long hefty water consumption to why I have healthy skin, hair, nails, and overall general good health. I don't look my age and have healthy, clear, wrinkle-free skin. I have been an avid water drinker since childhood, to the point I annoy family and friends with my water rants! In addition to the benefits I mentioned, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states these reasons why water is important:
Water helps your body:
- Keep your temperature normal
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
If you can't stomach drinking 64+ ounces of water throughout the day, try flavoring it with fruits such as lemons, limes, strawberries, or oranges. I personally make a jar of water every few days and keep it in the refrigerator. There are a plethora of fruit-infused water recipes on Pinterest to keep water from being boring. My faithful two-gallon mason-typeis always full of water and at hand, day and night. I recommend the Yeti for it's ability to keep water, with or without ice, cool for over 24 hours. 30 oz Yeti tumbler
Prepare Your Lunch For The Next Day
The biggest reason for daily bad food choices is lack of preparation and planning. This leads to frequent trips for fast food or unhealthy cafeteria choices. I make something on Sundays that can get my husband and me through the first few work days. Our favorite healthy, wholesome lunch to pre-make is my and packed with flavor. I also make extra food when cooking dinner so we have leftovers to take for lunches.
Consider Drinking 5 oz. of Red Wine Several Evenings Per Week
According to the CDC, Red wine, in moderation, is heart healthy. The alcohol, resveratrol, and antioxidants in red wine, may help prevent coronary artery disease, a link that is not completely understood. However, part of the benefit may be antioxidants research suggests increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL) aka good cholesterol that protects against bad cholesterol buildup.
I do discourage red wine consumption to those with a personal or family history of alcohol abuse, as too much alcohol can have many harmful effects instead of helpful.
Exercise at Least 30 Minutes Each Day and Avoid Sitting For More Than 50
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity over the course of a week.
Reducing sitting time is important to decrease your risk of metabolic issues and blood clots. Many folks have sedentary jobs, so set a reminder on your phone to get up and move and stretch every hour, or take a stroll around the building.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors has numerous benefits to overall health, the first being Vitamin D exposure. There’s nothing like the feeling of sunlight hitting your skin, which activates Vitamin D in our bodies. Vitamin D is vital for healthy bones and to fight off cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and heart attacks. Be careful about getting too much of a good thing and wear sunscreen. I also recommend using natural products sunscreen. After visiting Aruba, I discovered this aloe-based sunscreen from Aruba Aloe. I highly recommend this as it is sans all the ingredients your skin can do without.
Fresh air is good for the mind and alleviates stress, symptoms of depression, brain fog, and the staleness of being indoors. A hike or walk in the woods can be a reminder of how incredible our planet truly is. It also makes us more environmentally aware, so even if it's cold, bundle up and get outside!
Take Some Time Out to Treat and Pamper Yourself
Each day, do one thing to take care of your outer layer. Our skin is our largest organ and most days, we totally ignore it. If we pay attention to one part of our skin each day, imagine how beautiful and glowing we would look and feel. This does not only apply to women. Soft skin and self-indulgence are for everyone!
In addition to the monthly indulgences of haircuts, manicures, facials, or massages, I recommend the following pampering treatments, which include some of my favorite, inexpensive products. You needn't spend a ton of money to indulge in daily delights:
- Give yourself a facial weekly to cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize.
- Exfoliate your entire body in the shower with a sugar or salt scrub (it's also quite easy to make your own body scrub)
- with a foot mask that peels away dead skin (the reviews don't lie, this product really works!) Exfoliate and moisturize your feet
- your hair (you can get 3-4 treatments per packet and is the best value for your money, and will leave your hair silky and smooth the fly-aways) Deep condition
- Mini self-massage. (I love the for my legs and back and the Fascia Blaster for arms, neck, and feet) mini one
- Take an Epson Salt and bath. While not scientifically proven, the use of LavenderEpsom salts does seem to have many claimed benefits. It's my go-to remedy after a hard workout or post-marathon).
Step Away From Your Computer, Phone, Or Other Devices For Two Hours
Take a two-hour "digital detox" each day and connect with your family and friends or partake in the other activities mentioned above. This is the perfect time to prepare a healthy dinner, interact with your spouse and children, take a walk, a long bath, or exercise. The act of receiving a notification, even if you don’t reply to it, is enough to severely distract you from doing something productive.
A U.S. survey found that more than 73% of young adults (under 30) suffer from symptoms of digital eye strain from screen overuse, including dry, irritated eyes, blurred vision, neck and back pain, and headaches.
Meditate or Relax Quietly For 15 Minutes
Mediation has a large place in my daily regimen and I cannot stress how much it has helped me cope with life's dysfunctions, just by closing my eyes and becoming mindful. I love Body Scan Meditation for achieving total relaxation and often find myself able to disconnect and fall asleep much easier and faster, especially when I've been stimulated by a computer screen or even watching a movie prior to bedtime. There are many wonderful body scan meditations on Youtube, and these are my two favorite videos/practitioners:
Keep a Daily Journal
Personally, I use Facebook as my journal. I don't post every day, but I do always try to post useful and relevant statuses. I have been having customized books printed of my Facebook entries in five-year intervals using a company called My
Social Book. Whether it be a digital journal or a handwritten one, writing your thoughts, musings, and daily experiences is therapeutic and validating. It's also a nice memoir to leave so your children and grandchildren can know and feel close to you.
Get 7-9 Nightly Sleep Hours and Hide the Blue Lights
Sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend roughly one-third of our lives asleep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) completed a two-year study to determine how much sleep people need by age category.
The NSF recommends the following to help you get a full night's sleep, which I also learned when I enrolled in a Cognitive Behavioral Program for combatting my insomnia several years ago:
- Stick to a sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends.
- Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
- Exercise daily.
- Evaluate your bedroom to ensure ideal temperature, sound and light.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
- Beware of hidden sleep stealers, like alcohol and caffeine.
- Turn off electronics before bed.
95% of adults in a US study admitted to using some type of screen in the hour leading up to bed. (Artificial blue light increases alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin by up to 22% which negatively impacts sleep). That is yet another reason to unplug from those devices, especially as bedtime approaches.
Additional Wellness Goals to Complete Monthly
In addition to tending to your diet, exercise, and mental well-being, here are some things you can do throughout the month for yourself and others, as well as to organize and declutter your life and further add to a lifestyle of overall wellness and happiness.
- Take a “free-day” to indulge in a few of your favorites
- Reach out to a friend or family member and make plans with them
- Do a random act of kindness
- Plan a date night with your partner
- Plan a road trip or a weekend getaway that is within your budget
- Make a monthly budget and debt reduction plan
- Plant a garden
- Purge, toss, and clean one room in your house
- Organize your digital photos
- Make a digital scrapbook of a special event or collection of favorite photos
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Debra Roberts