Now, I recognise that there are two hundred bazillion posts about this online, each touting some crazy diet, workout, "hack" or pill that solves all your problems--mostly all presented by some cocky guy with abs and a full head of hair or some woman in her early twenties with a killer body. I know, because I've read a lot of them, and tried a lot of the fads--both mainstreams and ahhhh not so mainstream.
What I find most of these fail to do is recognise that not all of us want to be elite athletes, with washboard abs, or a waist you could fit through a small PVC drain pipe. Some of us just want to be happy and healthy, to make a little effort to do a little better, to stop what feels like a rapidly increasing decline in our physical capabilities as we hit our thirties and beyond, and to wake up most mornings feeling like we're just a little bit better physically and mentally than we were yesterday. That some better habits might set the platform to do more down the track is almost irrelevant.
So, to help you set a nicer physical and mental foundation for yourself here are a few easy, manageable steps to a slightly better self, every day.
Go for a walk
If you have somebody to go with you, leave your phone at home, get your skin out in the sun if it's shining, stop and take your shoes off and wiggle your toes in the grass at a park for five minutes if you have time. If you prefer to walk alone, find a fun podcast, or some music that chills you out or hypes you up for the day, or just unplug and enjoy the sounds of your community. It doesn't matter if you do the exact same track most days because it's easy and familiar and requires little forethought, or if you pre-plan or take turns as they fancy you. Just get out there and stretch your legs. Grab a coffee. Breathe the air. If you get a sweat on, amazing, if not, it's still worth your time.
Drink the right amount of water
This might sound an odd one, but it can make the world of difference. Especially when we are indoors with the air con on all the time getting dried out. It fills our stomachs, helps prevent headaches, and helps keeps our fascia looser and more flexible so our bodies can move within our skins.
Figure out the right amount for you (0.033 x body weight (kg) = litres of water daily). Buy a no-toxic 1L water bottle (stainless steel or glass) and make sure you empty it the right amount of times. Easy.
Designate some no alcohol days
This is a big one. For a lot of us, if we sit down and have a good, honest look at how many drinks we have during the week--especially if we work from home or we work in jobs like sales where it feels like you're at dinners or drinks every other night--it can be quite a surprising number. Take it one step further, how often does "just a few drinks" lead to "just a few drinks and a pizza and a tub of Haagendaz"?
Pick some nights (my husband and I pick Monday to Thursday) where you just choose not to drink, and commit to it. Make it habit. Once it becomes habit, if you break it from time to time, that's fine, you're human. Own your choice, maybe then don't have that evening wine on Sunday, and move on.
Give the blue light a rest in the evening
Do you ever sit back on the couch, rub your dry, hurting, tired eyes, and wonder just where the hell your evening went? The kids are in bed, your husband is snoring next to you, there's an half-answered work email open on your phone and some rubbish is on TV, and it's MIDNIGHT WHEN YOU HAVE TO GET UP AT FIVE.
The blue light that screens emit tell our bodies that it's daytime. The sun is up and you need to be moving and thinking. Except, it's not. Give this a try, see how it helps with your ability to get to and stay sleep, your alertness the following morning, and maybe even your relationships. Watch your TV shows, do your facechats, and finish up those work emails before 8:30. Then, turn off the screens in your house. Either light up some candles, or grab some dimmable warm lights to provide a cosy light to your place to see. Read, or play some tabletop games, or talk to each other. Try to hit the hay within the next 90 minutes. Rinse, repeat, see how you feel in a week.
Eat more protein
"Whoa, Fiona!" you might be thinking. Now, I'm not trying to turn you into Rocky here, drinking glasses of raw eggs and all that. But, we do need to recognise that a lot of physical problems are caused by not eating 90-130g of protein a day. Or not having enough sugar and carbs in our diets to actually use that protein or ensure its consumption doesn't harm us.
To help better understand protein, head over to our post on Are you Eating Enough Protein?