There are many positive changes that you can incorporate into your daily routine that will improve your health long term. These are powerful tools that can increase your cardiometabolic wellness by improving weight loss, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Once you review these positive changes, you can pick a few to implement into your daily routine starting today and you will notice improvements in your life in no time!
Why Change is Important
Did you know that many of the top 10 causes of death in America are strongly impacted by lifestyle choices, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease? Positive lifestyle choices can reduce our risk of chronic diseases and early death.
Lifestyle behaviors, such as healthy eating, physical activity, quality sleep and stress reduction, can be even more effective than some medications in treating many of the most common cardiometabolic related health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Why is Change Hard?
Change is hard because it takes effort to make positive changes in our modern lifestyle, which includes our unhealthy food environment, sedentary routines and elevated stress levels. It’s not our fault, but we have to recognize these pitfalls and develop a plan to deal with them.
Our current food environment is one of the biggest reasons why people have excess weight and cardiometabolic related health issues.
Most people eat a diet full of ultra-refined/processed food, which can alter our hormones, contribute to cravings, increase fat storage and decrease our natural hunger and satiety cues.
We have an abundance of these foods, and they are readily available. They taste good, are easy to fix, fast and cheap.
Common Culprits Include:
Eating fried food or eating out frequently, including to-go orders, convenience store foods, delis, buffets, fast food and sit down restaurants.
Consuming too many added sugars, whether through beverages like juice, sweetened creamer in coffee, sweet tea, soda or food such as cereal, sweets, candies, cookies, ice cream, snack cakes, etc.
Excessive alcohol intake, “junk” food and ultra-refined/processed food intake, which are full of refined grains, processed vegetable oils and empty calories, like frozen pizzas, fries, chicken nuggets, chips, crackers, etc.
Most people are sedentary. They sit or lay down for long periods of the day and do little above their usual routine such as cleaning up or walking to the car.
It’s easy to be sedentary nowadays, since most of us don’t have physical jobs or need to do much physical work to live a comfortable life.
Even our hobbies, such as scrolling the internet, watching TV and reading contribute to our sedentary lifestyle.
Being sedentary decreases muscle mass and metabolism, making it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose weight.
Chronically Elevated Stress Levels
People are dealing with non-stop stress nowadays, including rising food costs, unfulfilled social and spiritual lives, unmet mental health needs and being constantly on the go with a fast-paced lifestyle, which provides little time or focus for dedicating to improving health.
When people are stressed, they sometimes feel compelled to self-medicate by compulsively overeating less healthful foods. It gives them a temporary feeling of relief. Unfortunately, when they do this long term, it often leads to exacerbation of health problems, including increases in weight, blood pressure and blood sugar, leading to poorer health outcomes. This is why it’s so important to work on reducing stress levels!
Change is Necessary for Growth
If we are not happy with our current situations then we must make positive changes to get the results we want. You have to take action. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be perfect! Perfection is the enemy of progress.
However, it is wise to think about your current situation and identify the end goals that you want to achieve. Once you know your goals, you can break them down into smaller actionable steps that you can focus on to help you meet your goals.
Positive Life Changes You Can Try
Positive changes that can improve your diet, physical activity and stress levels are listed below to help you get your health back on track.
Improve your diet:
- Try to eat a primarily whole foods diet and stay hydrated with enough water. Look for foods that are single ingredient or with few ingredients, as able.
- Cook from scratch! You don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking, but putting in a little extra effort to make wholesome ingredients into a meal will naturally help you cut down on the ultra-refined/processed foods, fast foods and other less healthful options.
- If you eat out frequently, try to cut back! I recommend once per week or less. If you cannot cut back on the frequency, then try to at least choose places that you can pick healthier options at.
- Plan ahead and make a grocery list (and stick to it!). If you can make a general plan with easy to fix, healthful options, you will be much more likely to stick to it.
- Keep trigger foods out of your house! Many people find they compulsively overeat certain trigger foods, such as chips, cookies, ice cream, sodas, etc. If you find that you spiral out of control with any trigger foods or beverages, you may want to stop buying it or purchase it less often.
- A big barrier for many people is that their family or friends sabotage them (whether intentionally or unintentionally). Talk with them and try to share your concerns and see if you can get on the same page so that you can meet your health goals.
Increase your physical activity:
- Make physical activity a part of your daily routine so you are more likely to stick with it. You don’t have to go to a gym or do anything that paralyzes you. Just fit more movement into your day.
- Incorporate strengthening activities to boost your metabolism and stimulate muscle growth. You can use weights, bands or even body weight exercises to get a great strengthening workout in.
- Find active hobbies instead of sedentary activities. Instead of scrolling social media, get up and go for a bike ride outside or go hiking on the weekend instead of watching movies.
- Get up every hour. Don’t sit down or lay down for long periods during the day. Even 5 minutes every hour can be helpful.
- Involve your friends and family or find other people to join in your physically active hobbies. This way you can foster a sense of community, decrease loneliness, make memories, as well as decrease your sedentary behavior.
Work on reducing your stress levels:
- Adequate sleep! Try to aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night to get the most benefits. You may need to stop using technology earlier, decrease caffeine or have a night time tea or supplement, such as melatonin.
- Include a 5-minute deep breathing exercise session each day. This can help reduce stress, clear your mind and even reduce blood pressure.
- Find fun hobbies to help get your mind in the right place and so that you have something positive to look forward to.
- Read the Bible, pray and listen to worship or other uplifting music. Talk with family or friends and ask them to support you.
- Journaling your thoughts, goals, feelings and positive affirmations.
How to make positive changes
Once you have chosen the positive changes you want to implement, you should get a plan together. Choose 1-3 ideas and try to really focus on making them a part of your routine. After 2 weeks you can re-evaluate and see if you can add more activities.
Once you have found that you are ready to add more strategies, you can use a layering approach and add a few more ideas. If you weren’t successful, then you should reflect and understand what got in your way of making those positive changes.
Some examples are listed below:
- For some individuals, it is having too many temptations or triggering foods available. You may want to stop purchasing trigger foods that cause you to stumble. For example, if you can’t stick with a moderate portion of chips, you may want to stop bringing them in the house.
- Maybe a family member sabotaged your efforts. In that case, you will need to come up with a plan to overcome this barrier.
- Perhaps, you know that if you sit down after work, you will be too tired and unmotivated to exercise. You may find that if you walk as soon as you get home that you are energized and able to fit it in before you get into your evening routine.
Change is Good!
Change is good for us, even if it is challenging! Whatever you do, don’t give up! If you mess up, get right back on track. Remember, we must make changes if we want to see improvements in our health and wellness.
Change Your Story, Change Your Life!
As you can see positive changes are an important part of improving our health and meeting our wellness goals. As we discussed, many of the top 10 causes of death in America are greatly impacted to lifestyle choices. Use this as motivation to make positive changes to improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of death!
If you haven’t already, sign up for my free Healthy Eating Guide to get started on implementing positive changes. When you are ready to get on track, join our 4-Week Wellness Transformation Program for more support and resources. Get started today!