So many people are looking for simple ways to improve their overall health. Health is about more than just a number on a scale, a dress size or how far you can walk until your knees ache.

Health incorporates all of those things as well as mental and spiritual health. It’s about what we put in our mouth, on our body, and in our mind and spirit as well. Here are a few steps that we can all take to improve our total health.

No Excuses

We give way too many excuses for our out of control weight issues. I know this because I have used them all.

The fact, in my case, is that I enjoy eating! It is very simple. The taste, texture, smell, and thought of food brings good feelings and thoughts to my mind.  

In the past, I have blamed my love handles and muffin top on marketing trickery, illnesses, age, my job, family, genetics, etc.

The truth is that I don’t enjoy exercise. No matter how you slice it, calories in should = calories out.

One of those has to change to see a change on the scale. Accept it. Embrace it. Live it. Stop lying to yourself. No more excuses.

Clean your cupboards

The adage is, if its ingredient list reminds you of chemistry class, don’t eat it.

Or try this, if you can’t read it without getting a dictionary, don’t eat it.

Or this one; if you can’t purchase the ingredients off of other shelves in the store, don’t buy it.

The last one, have you ever seen a commercial for celery? Think about it like this, if the item has a commercial, put it in the trash! I think that just about covers it.

Check your utensils, pots and pans

Great cooking starts with great cooking supplies. However, you don’t have to go broke to have quality pots and pans. I have found quality items at yard sales, thrift shops and on clearance at high-end stores.

If using Teflon (which I don’t recommend), make sure that the Teflon is not chipping off. Only use wooden or silicone, not meta,) utensils with Teflon coated dishes. Always follow the recommended washing instructions for your dishes.

Small Steps to Better Health

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake

There are so many recipes to help with this. The average American eats 3-4 servings of fruits and veggies per day. We can do better. It is surprising, but lettuce, ketchup, and mustard are included in this.

Healthy living is a choice. Choose fruit instead of chips if you need a snack. A salad loaded with a variety of veggies is not only nice to look at, but also very tasty and healthy for you. Healthy fruit and vegetable smoothies are great too!

Find a way to increase these foods. Keep a food diary to help evaluate your choices.

Seek out local, natural health food stores and butcher shops

Check online for local health food stores and butcher shops in your area. During my first visit to the local butcher shop, the owner told me more than I wanted to know about my chicken. She even told me what farm it came from, gave me the address, and told me to go there for a visit.

Perdue and Tyson have never invited me to one of their farms.

So, visit local health stores, farmers markets, etc. and get to know your farmers. Ask questions; they are a wealth of knowledge and usually don’t mind sharing information. Get familiar with what each establishment/shop/farmer has to offer (i.e.: organic vs ‘natural’, locally grown, etc.).

Eating healthy is a lot easier when every isle has healthy options.

Cook!

It sounds simple, but no one likes to do it. Make it a point to stop eating out.

Want Chinese? Cook it using the freshest options available to you.

Learn to swap-white flour for wheat; white rice for whole grain/brown. See the trend here?

Drink water

So, you don’t like water? We have been drinking so many chemicals and sugar that our taste buds are off!

Add a slice of lemon, lime, or orange to your water. It’s ok to add a little sugar to this and gradually wean off of the sugar.

Soda and fruit juices are not a necessity. They contain water; they are not water.

Get off the soda!

And don’t let me start on the diet drinks. Studies have shown that the artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks can actually cause you to gain weight.

Water-water-water.

Switch to organic products

You may be reluctant to stop using your tried and true chemically-ladened hair and body products, but we are trying to achieve total health, right?

Go to your local farmers market and see if they have any booths that showcase natural products. At that time, you have the opportunity to meet and support local producers and ask any question about the products.

Do your research and transition to products that use less harsh more natural ingredients. You may be surprised at the positive results that you receive.

Move

We are a fat culture. Get moving, drop the fat and be healthy.

Spring is fast approaching.

Get out there; walk along the beach or in the park. The fresh air and sunshine should be enjoyed.

Start with what’s comfortable. For some, that may mean a walk around the house. For others it could be a 30 minutes of walking at a leisurely pace.  Walk around the block. Just do something!

Enjoy life…decrease stress

Our lives are very stressful, but we have to search out ways to de-stress.

Try turning off your electronic devices (cell phone, cordless, TV, radio) and go sit outside. Just…be!  

Don’t think of bills, home, work, family. Just think of peaceful things that bring you happiness and joy.

Surround yourself with positive, like-minded individuals

There is nothing worse than trying to do the right thing and having someone sabotage your efforts.

Now, these saboteurs are not necessarily out to get you, but their behavior and/or words can easily derail your efforts. Something simple as an impromptu office party can turn a healthy diet around in two seconds flat.

Even surrounded by great supportive friends, who are not dieting with you, can backfire.

Have you ever been around someone who sees your chef’s salad and gets a craving for pizza? They then feel compelled to sit next to you, their dieting friend and savor their greasy, gooey, delicious-looking pepperoni pizza. Talk about torture! Now, you feel that same pizza calling your name.

By surrounding yourself with like-minded people, you have another person to hold you accountable, and encourage you on your journey, without the worry of being derailed intentionally or unintentionally.

Have goals and write them down

Studies have shown that those who write their goal have a much greater chance of reaching them.

Write down what you want to see in your life.  Know what you want, figure out the right steps to reach that goal, and start tackling the steps one at a time until you reach your goal. Every step is success.

If health is what you want, you can have it…one step at a time. Replace the unhealthy with healthy options, get moving, have goals, surround yourself with people who will help you reach those goals and take it one day at a time. Go slow and steady toward your goal. Good luck!

What are your health goals? Do you have a plan to reach them? Leave a comment below.

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Small Steps to Better Health
   

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