Healthy lifestyle changes can often seem overwhelming. Eat this not that, lift weights this way, do this kind of cardio...and on and on. Baby steps on the path to health can lead to big results and make the other steps much easier to take as well. With that, I give you my health hierarchy. In order of importance, these are what I consider to be the 4 basic steps to healthy lifestyle change in order of importance.
If you are not sleeping your body is not repairing. Have big fitness goals? Wanting to let go of some fat and gain some muscle? Well the magic happens at night! I have seen people get all of their workouts in and follow a really good nutrition plan and still struggle to reach their goals because they aren't fitting enough sleep into their day.
Lack of sleep also leads to a lack of willpower to make healthy choices in every other area of your life throughout the day. If you are tired, it is a lot harder to get your workout in and a LOT harder to say no to the chocolate, the bowl of ice cream, the cozy couch and a movie.
Many, many of us walk around dehydrated. Once again, water is essential to reaching your healthy goals. Whether you want to gain or lose weight or just maintain your optimal health - hydration is often the missing link to results.
Thirst can often feel like hunger. A good rule of thumb if you are really having cravings is to drink a big glass of water and then wait 10-20 minutes to see if you are still really feeling hungry.
Good nutrition leads to good...EVERYTHING. You only have one body, if you don't take care of it where are you going to live? Eliminating processed foods and switching to 5-6 small balanced meals a day vs the typical three larger meals is a great start. I firmly believe that 80% or more of 'being in shape' is all determined by your nutrition.
Last, but not least, is working out. Not only great for stress relief and self-confidence but working out is also the key to long-term health and freedom. As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass. Maintaining muscle mass is the key to freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want as you age. Play with Grandkids, travel, live independently - all of these things can only happen if you have maintained your health and muscle mass. Weight bearing activities, in addition to cardio, help build muscle as well as bone density - and you'll look good naked. Ha ha.
So, if you are just starting out and your are feeling overwhelmed, I hope this gives you some confidence and a starting point. If you are plateaued and not getting the results you are seeking - it's often the basic steps 1 and 2 that need a bit of focus.
Seriously, aren't you excited about a to do list that starts with sleep?
photo credit: RelaxingMusic