Wellness Wednesday: The Healthy Living Switcheroo
One of the keys to unlocking the path to a healthier lifestyle is having the right mindset. Committing to wellness, cultivating and following through on healthier habits, cutting down on foods and behaviors that are deleterious to your health: all of this requires a mental change. It can be hard to make that psychological adjustment, though: we are creatures of habit, as anybody who has ever tried to quit smoking or take up exercise after years of sedentary living can attest.
Much like a stubborn child refusing to eat their vegetables, sometimes you have to trick yourself. Instead of radically overhauling your lifestyle over night, you pull a switcheroo and substitute things you’re already doing for a healthier alternative.
Take the Stairs & Park Far Away
Do you work in a building where you take the elevator everyday? Consider taking the stairs as a way to burn calories and build muscle. If you work at the top of the building and don’t feel like walking up five flights of stairs, consider taking the elevator up and then taking the stairs down when you leave.
Another simple exercise hack is to park a little farther away the next time you go to the store. Add a bit of extra distance between you and the front door so you have to put some steps in before you get inside.
Stretch Out Before You Veg Out
A lot of modern work and leisure culture tends to be sedentary. We spend a good portion of our lives parked in a chair or on the couch. One way to make that lifestyle a little more active is to break it up with some stretches. Take a stretch break every 30 to 45 minutes. Get up from your desk or couch, walk around, and stretch your muscles. If you’re watching TV, commercial breaks (or the end of an episode if you’re doing a binge-watch on streaming) offer a great opportunity to get up, move around, and get some quick stretches in before diving back into your program. You can use a similar “ad break” technique at work by using the end of work meetings or calls as a signal to get away from your desk for a minute or two and stretch out.
A regular stretching regimen is one of the easiest exercise routines to incorporate into your day-to-day life and offers a lot of benefits:
- Increases flexibility
- Increases range of motion
- Improves blood flow to muscles
- Heals and manages back pain
- Improves posture
- Helps relieve stress
If you have trouble getting motivated to work out, one trick to keeping yourself committed is to get an exercise partner or take group classes. Get some friends together to go hiking. Organize a softball game. Go golfing with friends (you can get a LOT of steps in over the course of 18 holes). The buddying-up approach helps keep you accountable and it lets you socialize and hang out with friends, which is both an added bonus and also creates positive associations with exercise. If you can make working out fun, it stops feeling like an obligation.
Eat This Instead Of That
Going back to our stubborn child example: sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to change what you eat in sneaky ways. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods—you just have to eat them differently. Check out this list of healthy substitutions you can make to keep your diet healthy AND flavorful. It’s also important to keep a handle on your stress levels while you’re making these adjustments to your lifestyle. Emotional eating due to stress can torpedo your attempts to eat healthier, so don’t neglect positive mental habits like meditation, breathing exercises, and practicing gratitude as you work on mastering your body.
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