By Dr. Josh Axe
If you’re currently not eating as well as you’d like, exercising regularly or overall feeling your best, then it might seem like an overwhelming task to start steering things in a better direction.
However, sometimes the best approach is to simply begin by incorporating small changes to your lifestyle and routine. At first, this might look like making some healthy food swaps, moving more throughout the day, or carving out more time to unwind and sleep.
What are lifestyle changes you can make to become a healthier you? Read on to find out my top recommendations for healthy habits related to your diet, workouts, supplements and more.
Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare professional prior to starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including supplementation and exercise.
Here are my top tips for living a healthy lifestyle …
Early In the Day:
1. Drink 1–2 glasses of water first thing in the morning.
This hydrates your body after you’ve been sleeping all night and fasting, plus it can assist in digestion and maintaining higher energy levels. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or some apple cider vinegar, are also good additions that can stimulate digestive juices and give your metabolism a pick-me-up.
2. If you’re going to drink coffee, make it organic, or opt for green tea, matcha tea or herbal tea instead.
Coffee beans are a crop that can hold onto a lot of pesticides and chemicals if they’re aren’t produced organically, so opt for those that are certified organic. For even more benefits, stir a scoop of Multi Collagen Protein powder right into your coffee (it’s unflavored, but provides amino acids that support skin, joint and gut health).
3. About 30 minutes before breakfast, take a probiotic supplement.
This helps to support a healthy balance of microbes in your gut, normal digestion and a healthy immune response. Try one of Ancient Nutrition’s SBO Probiotic formulas that feature a blend of hardy microbes that are resistant to harsh environments in the stomach, which aids in absorption.
4. Start your day with a balanced macronutrient breakfast, meaning one that includes fiber, protein and healthy fats.
This trifecta is best for making you feel full and keeping you satisfied between meals, so you're less likely to overeat or snack. Examples of a solid breakfast include: a smoothie made with Bone Broth Protein powder and berries, oatmeal with flax seeds and yogurt, or an omelette with veggies and avocado.
5. Take a daily multivitamin with or after breakfast, since consuming vitamins with a meal can help with absorption.
A quality multivitamin will provide you with essential nutrients such as vitamin C and zinc for immune support, B vitamins for healthy energy and metabolic health, and minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium for bone, heart and digestive support.
6. Carve out some time for a workout, whether it’s before or after you eat breakfast, based on your preferences and schedule.
I recommend switching up your workouts throughout the week for the best results, such as by lifting weights at least twice weekly, doing burst training or HIIT also twice, and yoga or Pilates at least once per week. (Or switch it up, if you prefer yoga, for example — try to get at least three workouts in and eventually aim for four to five.)
Throughout the Day:
7. Save most of your "sitting time" for the evenings.
What are the rules of good health when it comes to “staying active?” One is to find time to get up and move frequently, even if you work most of the day inside at a desk. Implement healthy changes like using a standup desk, doing simple stretches at your desk or taking a walk outside during your lunch break.
8. Aim for vegetables to make up at least 1/3 of your lunch.
This is also a smart strategy for other meals and snacks, too, since veggies are full of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that your body requires for numerous functions. If you find it hard to squeeze enough fresh veggies into your day, consider having a serving of Organic SuperGreens daily.
9. Identify stress triggers in your life and try to eliminate or at least limit them.
For example, if your schedule feels overwhelming or you get jittery and “hangry” when you go too long without eating something, make a plan to implement helpful changes. You might choose to practice mindfulness techniques to stay focused when things get hectic, or plan breaks in your day to decompress, move and get outside.
10. Get outdoors.
You can do this even if you typically work inside (in fact, make it a priority if you do). Exposure to nature and sunlight is great for lifting your energy, clearing your mind and getting your vitamin D level up, which is an essential vitamin we make when our bare skin is exposed to sunlight.
11. If you require a snack to keep your energy up, make it a healthy one that includes protein.
Snacks that are high in protein and fiber, such as a smoothie made with Bone Broth Protein powder or some whole grain crackers with almond butter, tend to be most satiating.
In the Evening and Nighttime:
12. Make smart swaps to create a healthy dinner.
What are the best healthy habits related to dinner? Just like with breakfast and lunch, aim for a healthy balance of complex carbs/fiber, protein and healthy fats, such as by having a salad with protein and dressing, fish with potatoes and veggies, or a veggie-packed stir-fry.
You nix empty calories from your diet by subbing out things like refined bread, pasta and poor quality oils for root veggies, whole grains and real olive oil.
13. Go for a long walk at least three times a week, ideally outside which is naturally calming.
Doing this after dinner can help you to digest and limits the time you’ll spend sitting inside potentially snacking. A walk at night is also a great opportunity to catch up with your partner/family, spend some time with your pet or to review how your day went, which can bring you peace of mind.
14. Eliminate blue light 1–2 hours before bed.
This is the type of light that is emitted from devices including your phone, laptop, TV and tablet, which can mess with your “internal clock” (your circadian rhythm) and make it harder to fall asleep.
15. Journal before bed to get your worries and thoughts out.
While you practice a digital detox at night, consider reading something calming and journaling instead, which are great strategies for increasing motivation, focusing on gratitude and coping with anxiousness.
16. Incorporate prayer and/or meditation into your relaxing “wind down routine.”
Both of these tools can help to beat stress and put you into a mental state that makes it easier to drift off to sleep.
17. Set up your bedroom for success.
Create a sleep sanctuary — the type of environment that is most conducive to sleep is one that is very dark, quiet with some white noise playing in the background (such as a fan) and cool.
18. Prioritize getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night (6–7 is simply not enough for most adults to feel their best).
If you struggle to get good sleep, how can you make a healthy change? Establishing a consistent sleep-wake schedule (going to sleep and waking up at about the same time each day) is one of the best ways to train your body to fall asleep more easily and stay sleeping until morning.
Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and Ancient Remedies.