Today we have a guest post for you from a fellow personal finance blogger, Anum Yoon.
You’d love to go on a juice cleanse or take a morning run, but who has the money or the time? There are bills to be paid and things to do.
Making a major diet or exercise switch doesn’t feel feasible for those with busy lives. However, there are many cheap and small lifestyle changes that can put you on the path to healthier habits.
- Don’t Eat Processed Food
Except as the odd treat or for a special occasion, make it a rule of thumb to not eat processed food. Avoid mysterious mixed-meat hot dogs, fake cheese that doesn’t melt, artificial sweeteners and sodas. When you have to go processed, check the label for natural ingredients.
Prepackaged food is easy for convenience but hard on the gut. You’ll feel better within a month after making the shift away from processed food.
Start with one small change, such as putting stevia or honey in your coffee instead of Splenda packets. Slowly wean yourself off soda. Work down the checklist until your diet is where you want it to be.
Replace prepackaged meals and items with your own easy to make and delicious crockpot meals, homemade frozen food and pantry snacks. Shop for the week and make various meals out of similar ingredients, from chicken Alfredo to chicken to enchiladas.
Tip: Drink water first to curb cravings. Chances are your body is craving water and this will be filling. If not, replace crunchy potato chips with crunchy banana chips.
- Invest in One Pair of Dumbbells
Strength training increases muscle mass, but building strength by lifting weights also helps maintain and improve bone density. This will help prevent osteoporosis as you age, even relieving symptoms in the elderly. Exercise is also known to help calm symptoms of anxiety and depression, boosting your mood and keeping you alert during the day.
You don’t have to invest in a gym membership you’ll never use. Invest in one pair of dumbbells instead, and realize you can do much with a few go-to free weight exercises. Choose a weight you can lift but challenges you after a set. Keep them in areas that aren’t tripping hazards but will be in your eyesight as you go about your daily routine, such as lifting while your hair dries or during commercial breaks.
- Invite Nature Into Your Life
A little exposure to nature not only lifts your mood, but it also adds beauty to the home. Indoor plants also have a host of other benefits, such as purifying the air and improving the rate of water evaporation. Even those with a brown thumb can tend to these plants:
- Window planters are a wonderful place for a succulent garden, which will release oxygen and then absorb CO2 overnight. This is a great way to naturally freshen the air in your home.
- Low-light plants also have healthy benefits indoors. Lady palm grows up to 6 feet tall and will cleanse the air of toluene, xylene, ammonia and formaldehyde. Bamboo plants are a natural humidifier and filter out formaldehyde and nitro oxide.
- Get a Bedtime Routine
Do you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Can’t keep your focus throughout the day?
A bedtime routine will do wonders to improve your clarity over the course of the day. Dim the lights and choose an activity that relaxes your mind, body and spirit. Read a book. Take a hot soak in the tub. Do yoga, stretch or go for an evening walk.
Limit screen time to help your eyes adjust to the darkness, and stick to the same sleep and wake times, even on the weekend. This will help improve your sleep quality and keep you alert, as you feel better rested.
When you make small changes, a little at a time, your lifestyle will shift toward healthier habits. Over time, you will see the changes as you cut out processed food, lift free weights, add plants to your home or shift into a regular bedtime routine.
Healthy lifestyle changes don’t have to unsettle your life — rather, they improve your life with each step.
Anum Yoon is the blogger behind Current on Currency. She writes about personal finance in a way that is more approachable and inclusive to fellow millennials.