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Seven Simple Steps to a Healthier You

Updated on July 5, 2011

In a World of "No"

Health advice seems awfully restrictive, these days, doesn't it? Don't do this, less of that... In a world full of negatives, no wonder a person doesn't know where to start! If your goal is improving your health and well-being, shouldn't there be positive steps you can take?

In fact, there are. And here are the top seven.

Tip: Don't get overwhelmed. ;) Do set small goals, and integrate these principles into your life, step by step.

Say "Yes" to More

1. More Water

Proper hydration is essential to our bodies' functioning. Drinking enough water is an easy way to improve your health, and not drinking enough has got to be the one of the silliest (and most common) mistakes people make. I'm sure you've heard before that 70% of your body is water, but take a minute to visualize that. Every day that you don't take in enough water to maintain that percentage, your body's reserves shrink a little bit more. How long has your body been in a state of drought?

Water is also necessary to rid your body of toxins. If your body is trying to conserve water, it will not be able to properly rid you of the chemicals and byproducts that pollute it. Headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and dizziness can all be products of dehydration. Your body is trying to get your attention, and once you listen, it'll go on doing its job, and leave you to do yours.

2. More Sleep

You know you should be getting more sleep, but as a working adult, it can be hard to find the time. While it might be sad to think about in this way, you really do need to schedule your sleep. Instead of setting a rigid "bedtime," which may seem unattainable when you have deadlines to meet, try a range of an hour to an hour and a half in which you'll do your darndest to wrap things up and get to bed. If you still have things to do, program an alarm clock an hour or so ahead of your normal wake-up time. You'll be more productive after you've rested up.

In addition, here are some tips for getting better sleep, for those of us who can't always get more, courtesy of "Good Morning Texas:"

3. More Fruit

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away." While it may seem cliche, the benefits of getting your fruits and vegetables cannot be denied. Packed with fiber and vitamins, a banana or a handful of carrot sticks make the perfect satisfying snack. The natural sugars in fruit gives your body a boost without the crash of a candy bar or the side effects of caffeine.

For the best nutritional value, eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. For more, check out these lists of Fall/Winter Fruits and Veggies and those for Summer/Spring.

4. More Whole Grains

Processed breads and cereals simply can't hold a candle to whole grains, in the health department. When I was a child, I used to gaze enviously at sandwiches made with wonderbread (especially with the crusts cut off), but I'm thankful now for my whole-wheat upbringing. Whole grain foods are increasingly appetizing, with more appealing textures, and less grainy taste. Now, when even sugary cereals are available in whole-grain variety, there is really no reason to eat anything other. Rich in antioxidants and fiber, whole grains increase heart health, decrease cholesterol and triglycerides, and lower your risk of obesity and diabetes.

5. Walk More

Contrary to what the fitness industry would have you believe, you do not need to work out daily to see benefits to your health. Simply taking a 30-minute walk every day does wonders for your body. Walking increases circulation to your muscles, burns fat, and forces deeper breathing, which recycles the stale air at the bottom of your lungs. It also aids in the processing and elimination of waste, so if you have digestive problems, a brisk stroll may be just the thing to get those bowels moving. You don't have to go on a major hike every day to see results. Walk to work, to the corner store, around the neighborhood with the dog... just take the stairs instead of the elevator! Your body will thank you.

6. Love More

No plan for improvement is complete without addressing your mental health, and one of the best ways to boost your mood is spending time with your loved ones. Studies show that people who set aside time for family activites are healthier and happier than those who do not. When asked about their motivation for working, two of the top answers among employed adults are family and financial security, which often seem the same thing. It's true, you want your family to be financially secure, but what good is that security, in the end, if the family itself suffers for it? Set a good example for your children - time for work, time for play - and devote your full attention to each one in its turn.

7. More "Me" Time

Let's not forget what all this is about. It's about you. With no time to enjoy your new-found health, what is all the hard work for? You'll feel better about yourself and your life if you make a concious effort to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Whether it is a glass of lemonade in the backyard, a fresh batch of oatmeal cookies, a few chapters of that best-seller you've been dying to read, or an at-home facial, reward yourself, not only for the changes you make, but simply for being you. Refuse to feel guilty for indulging. If you didn't believe you're worth it, you wouldn't be making the changes in the first place. And you're right to believe it. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


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