Informational Articles

5 Simple Steps You Can Take ASAP to Kickstart a Healthy Lifestyle

woman doing yoga outside

Try these if you’re stuck in a rut.

You know how it goes: One missed run turns into late night pizza (a few too many times…), which later translates to a couple extra pounds on the scale. We’ve all fallen off the health bandwagon before. “I always tell my patients, it is not easy to be healthy,” says Shanna Levine, M.D., a clinical instructor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “It is a conscious, everyday decision.” The good news: While maintaining a good-for-you lifestyle takes effort, small tweaks that have big health rewards aren’t hard to make. Here are five of them to start right now (seriously, let’s go!).

1. Buy a Cute Water Bottle
And bring it more places than just the gym. Levine encourages all of her patients to tote around a large, one-liter water bottle (Bobble has plenty of good lookin’ options!). “Adequate hydration is essential to prevent dehydration, often misinterpreted as ‘hunger pains,’” she says. Hate plain ol’ H2O? A slice of lemon or orange can add flavor and provide a vitamin C boost, keeping your immune system strong and your energy levels high, she says.

2. Plan Your Meals the Night Before
“Healthy snacks, an energizing breakfast, and a light lunch are all key elements to making every day a good day,” says Levine. The problem is, while we all know this, giving into greasy sandwiches and office treats is just…so…easy. The fix: ready-to-serve meals that take the legwork out of eating. Spend some time after dinner setting yourself up for tomorrow. And do as Levine does and sneak in nutrients early in the a.m. with asmoothie. Including ingredients like kale, chia seeds or flax seeds, and a healthy dose of fruits and veggies will start you off on the right foot.

3. And While You’re At It…Plan Out Your Day
No gym clothes with you? Nothing on the schedule tonight? That makes it a heck of a lot easier to head home and binge on House of Cards. “It is essential to plan your day,” says Levine. “I like to bring a gym bag to work and arrange workout plans the day before.” With a bag by your side and a cycling date on the calendar, you’re much more likely to actually sweat it out. (Frank and Claire will still be there when you get home.)

4. Make Yourself a Morning Person
We know, we know, mornings are tough—but there’s good reason to rise ‘n shine. Research suggests that larks are happier, healthier, and even slimmer than night owls. It gets better: “Morning people aren’t born, they are made,” says Levine. Start by backing up your bedtime to squeeze in that seven to eight hours. And nix the screens! “Electronics should be turned off at least an hour to two hours prior to bed,” says Levine. (Your brain needs time to calm down before attempting to go to sleep, too.) “Practicing good sleep hygiene is important and will become a habit, rather than a chore, once you begin to feel the health benefits,” she says.

5. Think: What Do I Like?
Fact: You’re way more likely to skip that workout you hate than the one you love. So wrack your brain: What do you really enjoy doing? Swimming? Or is yoga more your thing? Do you like to exercise with others or alone? “The less exercise feels like a chore, the more sustainable it becomes,” says Levine. Of course, you don’t want your workouts to beeasy—so think outside of the box (hint: that boxing class you’ve been wanting to try but haven’t). “Allow yourself to have fun, and you will find yourself engaging in a routine in no time,” says Levine.

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