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100 Small Changes You Can Make To Improve Your Health

100 Small Changes You Can Make To Improve Your Health

Not every change you make to live a healthier lifestyle has to be drastic. Many people go balls to the wall and cut out all their carbs or go from never running to training for a marathon.

The problem? Most realize how difficult such a drastic change can be and bail on their goal.

It’s better to take baby steps on your quest to build a healthier, stronger version of yourself. Pick one or two of the changes below and focus on those. Once you’re comfortable with the changes you made, pick up a few more.

1. Cut out soda.

2. Cut out juices.

3. Drink more water (8 8-oz cups per day).

4. Walk to work if distance permits.

5. Get a gym membership.

6. Come up with a workout plan that involves hitting the gym at least 3x a week.

7. Buy fruit instead of cookies and donuts.

8. Eat more vegetables. The fiber and nutrients will keep you full and prevent overeating.

9. Consume 25g fiber per day if you are female, 38g for males.

10. Drink less coffee so that you do not rely on caffeine.

11. Get 8-10 hours of sleep.

12. Go on a run at least once a week.

13. Read a blog on bettering your health and/or fitness at least once a week.

14. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you don’t give in to cravings when come meal time.

15. Purge your pantry of all junk (and no, not by eating it).

16. Try cooking healthy recipe instead of eating out.

17. Talk to someone new at the gym every week. Making friends will make you enjoy your time there and want to return.

18. Buy egg whites instead of only whole eggs.

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19. Try turkey bacon instead of pork bacon (I eat both depending on the occasion).

20. Keep an exercise log so you can see that you are making progress.

21. Invest in healthier snack foods such as nuts, fruit, snap peas, baby carrots, etc.

22. Set a goal and don’t stop until it’s achieved.

23. Set baby goals with corresponding rewards to encourage you along the way.

24. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that be talking to a fit friend or hiring a fitness professional.

25. Understand your body. Figure out the number of calories you can consume daily to maintain, gain, or lose weight.

26. Avoid drinking to get drunk except on special occasions (it really shouldn’t be an end-of-the-week habit).

27. That said, restrict yourself to 1-2 alcoholic beverages when you do drink casually.

28. Increase your protein intake. It will keep you full and promote recovery from exercise.

29. Take a multivitamin. Most of us do not get the essential micronutrients we need day to day.

30. Take a fish oil supplement. Omega-3’s are essential for a strong heart.

31. Go on walks after eating large meals.

32. Wake up an hour earlier (given you slept enough hours) and get moving. You’ll be more productive if you start the day off with a little exercise.

33. Avoid movie theatre popcorn if you can. That stuff is dangerous. A large bucket can contain over 1000 calories easily.

34. Find and start a fitness program.

35. If you smoke, stop.

36. Pick up a sport you want to try.

37. Re-pick up a sport you stopped participating in.

38. Join health initiatives and challenges at the workplace.

39. If you’ve been sitting for over an hour, get up and walk around — like right now if it applies.

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40. Take your dog on a walk! If you have one of course. The exercise isn’t just for your pup.

41. Vacuum the house. It’ll get you moving and can burn up to 300 calories per hour!

42. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you need one, try Stevia.

43. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk.

44. Incorporate a resistance training routine instead of only performing cardio. It promotes strong bones and faster metabolism.

45. Drain the bacon grease before frying your eggs!

46. If you are eat a salad, avoid dousing it in dressing. A single serving of ranch dressing can be up to 150 calories.

47. Trouble sleeping through the night? Decrease caffeine intake. Especially within 5 hours of bedtime.

48. Read a book. Stimulating your mind promotes physical health more than you know.

49. Choose baked chips or veggie chips instead of regular ones.

50. Avoid deep fried foods. Baked or grilled versions are better choices.

51. Buy fresh veggies over canned or frozen ones if possible.

52. Do not drink Fireball. Stuff has antifreeze in it.

53. When eating out, pick a healthier option. It’ll taste better than you expect.

54. Write your thoughts out every once in awhile. Keep a diary. Write an article. It helps relieve stress.

55. Talking to people also relieves stress. Get out there and be social. Don’t hold things in.

56. Choose leaner meats for your sandwiches and meals.

57. Don’t skip meals too often. Your body needs food for energy.

58. Start a running or workout group amongst your friends and/or colleagues.

59. Listen to music you enjoy. It soothes.

60. Buy whole grain breads and pastas over instead of white.

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61. Order brown rice instead of white rice at Chinese restaurants.

62. When your family or workplace orders donuts and you can’t resist, only take one.

63. Use low or non-fat versions of sauces. Those tiny little packets of Chick-Fil-A Sauce have 140 calories!

64. Rely less on Ibuprofen for hangovers and more on water and hydration.

65. Find a workout buddy! The extra accountability will keep you, well, accountable.

66. Take naps when exhausted instead of chugging more caffeine. Listening to your body goes a long way.

67. Substitute unsweetened apple sauce for butter when baking.

68. Sweeten with Stevia instead of sugar when baking. A 1:1 ratio works well.

69. Take a green drink supplement if you don’t get a wide range of vegetables and fruits daily.

70. Meditate. Occasionally taking a moment of silence to be inside your own mind and simply think can promote mental health and relaxation.

71. Eat until satisfied, not full.

72. Prep meals over the weekend so that you have healthy and readily available options throughout the week.

73. Snack less and eat more filling meals.

74. Do mini workouts during commercial breaks. Push ups, sit ups, crunches, planks, and squats are all prime candidates.

75. If pressed for time in the gym, perform compound movements that hit large numbers of muscles such as squats and pullups.

76. Wait 10 minutes after eating meals to make sure you’re actually still hungry before going for a post-meal snack. It takes time for your brain to catch up to your belly sometimes.

77. Read food labels. Knowing how much protein, fat, and carbs you’re consuming is key to understanding your nutrition.

78. If the nutrition label indicates any trans-fats, do not eat that food. Trans-fats clog your arteries.

79. Learn to refuse unhealthy foods when they are offered to you. Learning to say no is a good lesson to learn for every aspect of life. You can’t make everyone happy.

80. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

81. Get off the internet sometimes and go outside. We spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter and not enough moving around.

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82. Add lemon to your water. It aids digestion by clearing the digestive tract.

83. Stretch tight or sore muscles. Many of us have become immobile with age and lack of exercise. Stretching can get you moving and functioning properly again.

84. Use non-stick spray instead of butter and oil when pan-frying foods.

85. Drink your coffee black. Sugar and creamer add unnecessary calories and really add up over time if you’re a coffee drinker.

86. Consume 1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar daily to prevent heartburn and acid reflux.

87. Get up to get the remote instead of asking for it to be passed to your lazy bum.

88. Incorporate a day to go hiking on your vacations. Hiking can burn anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour.

89. Sign up for a 5k or 10k. You’re more likely to do something if you pay for it. This also provides a sense of urgency because you can’t push back the date.

90. Stop waiting and take out the garbage before it overflows. Just another way to get moving. You’ll also get that bonus sense of accomplishment that comes with having a nice, clean, empty trash can (or is that just me?).

91. Request no butter and no oil at restaurants. Excess fats really pack on the calories.

92. Pass on the fries. They are high carb and high fat, which means extra high calorie. Save them for cheat meals.

93. Get some sun. Vitamin D deficiency is more common now than ever. Excess sun can be detrimental to your skin health, but most people don’t get enough.

94. Perform both high intensity and low-intensity exercises — anything from walking to burpees. This ensures that your body becomes efficient using both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.

95. Hit the pool! Swimming for fitness burns more calories than running. Don’t believe me? Google Michael Phelps’ 12,000 calorie diet.

96. Pace during long phone calls. It may sound silly, but the extra steps really add up. I’ve paced over 1500 steps back and forth while talking on the phone. That’s almost an entire mile!

97. Load up a quarter to half of your dinner plate with veggies. Portion control helps prevent overeating.

98. Stop thinking and start doing. If you’re “thinking about” getting in shape or starting a program, JUST DO IT.

99. Use cheat meals instead of cheat days. A full day of cheating can throw off your progress pretty badly if you can eat a large enough amount of food. It’s difficult to do this with a single cheat meal though.

100. At Chipotle, get a bowl instead of the burrito.

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Drew Kocak

Online Personal Trainer / Fitness Blogger

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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