Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you probably more or less know how to live a healthy lifestyle. Some obvious first steps include eating more greens and superfoods and cutting back on sugars and alcohol. Sleeping, meditating, exercising, and keeping stress levels low are other key ingredients in the recipe of wellness. But while it’s easy to write all these things down, and even keep them in the back of your mind as you continue with your day-to-day, how many of us can say that we’re practicing these things on a regular basis?
I can’t, which is why a recent Elite Daily article caught my eye. Author Ryan Rodal’s suggestions for how to live a healthy lifestyle take a more realistic approach toward healthy habits that is honest and refreshing. “You don’t have to take shots of kale juice or eat quinoa cereal topped with flax seeds to be healthy,” explains Rodal. “A few simple changes to the way you eat and the way you live will go a long way toward leading an overall healthier lifestyle.” What are the simple changes he recommends making? Here are 12 effortless steps to becoming more healthy.
1. Eat mostly unprocessed foods. Your diet should consist of vegetables, fruit, lean meats like chicken and ground turkey, and grains. Avoid processed foods altogether, and you’ll be better off.
2. Walk when possible. It’s essential to negate a sedentary work life whenever you can. If something’s within walking distance, make the effort to travel by foot instead of by car. When you have time to spare, park further than you normally would to get in a few blocks of walking time and increase your step count.
3. Drink less often. Limit heavy binge drinking to once a week. It’s not only better for your liver, but it’s better for your wallet, too.
4. Bring your lunch to work. Pack a salad or sandwich or last night’s leftovers. Like drinking, you’ll save money and cut back on calories. Meal prep can go a long way. Spend Sunday evenings planning for the workweek ahead—your future self with thank you.
5. Take vacations. Or a sick day! You have your whole life to work.
6. Stay away from negativity. You become what you allow into your life. Stay positive, and you’ll see things turn around for the better.
7. End toxic relationships and friendships. People who are bringing you down should be cut off.
8. Take time away from technology. A daily digital break is a good thing.
9. Participate in physical activities. Take a hike. Go for a swim. Hop on a bike. “Physical activity relieves both physical and mental stress,” says Rodal.
10. Read more. Read anything, but just read. It stimulates the brain.
11. Pick up a new hobby. Having interests outside of family and work will make you feel more fulfilled.
12. Don’t care about what other people think. It’s not worth expending your energy on the opinions of others. Be true to yourself, and you’ll attract people who genuinely like and value you for who you are.
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This story was originally published on September 26, 2015, and has been updated.