A lot of times we associate a "healthy lifestyle" with things like bland foods, hours at the gym, and deprivation. However, there are actually simple health hacks you can use every day that take almost no time or effort that yield mega powerful results with your overall health.
Seriously — you don't have to go on a raw food diet or jog ten miles a day to be your best self. In fact, for a lot us (myself definitely included) extreme health and fitness regimens only lead to feelings of failure and discouragement, since we just can't realistically stick to them forever. For example, take the time I went on a "no sugar diet" that happened to overlap with a cake-themed office party. Not only was I miserable, but I ended up eating way, way more sugar that day than I usually would have because I had been feeling so deprived in general.
If life experience has taught me anything, it's that realistic, sustainable health goals and practices are the only truly effective way for so many of us to lead a healthier lifestyle. If you feel my pain and are just looking for practical, simple ways to improve your health, here are nine super simple health hacks that will drastically improve your life.
1. Add Coconut Oil To Your Coffee
According to nutritionist Deborah Levy, MS, RD, in a piece for Prevention, adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to your morning beverage will help stabilize your blood sugar all day. Plus, it tastes awesome!
2. Get Off A Stop Before You Need To
POPSUGAR health editor Lizzie Fuhr recommended simply incorporating more walking into you daily routine. "If your commute includes a drive, something as simple as parking your car in the back of the lot is a healthy change worth making," she said. And if you take public transportation to work, try getting off a stop before you usually would and walk the extra few blocks.
3. Buy Frozen Fruits And Veggies
In a piece on smart tips for eating healthy for Today, Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, actually recommended buying frozen fruits and vegetables over fresh ones that spoil quickly. "Most people look at me funny because they know I'm an advocate for fresh food," she said, " [but] fresh food isn't going to do much for you if you don't eat it! Most of us have the best of intentions when it comes to weeknight cooking, but with crazy, busy schedules, we're challenged to cook our fresh produce in the short window it lasts in the refrigerator."
4. Make Your Meals Last 20 Minutes
In an article for Health, founding director of the Yale Prevention Research Center David L. Katz, MD recommended making sure you make all your meals last 20 minutes, no matter the size. Do this whether you eat out at a restaurant or even sitting in front of the TV, and you'll likely eat smaller portions overall since it takes about 20 minutes for your body to register that you're full.
5. Make Your Playlists As Long As Your Workouts
This is a tip I actually got from StyleCaster and it's one of those things that is so simple but makes a huge difference. There's nothing more annoying or disruptive to a workout than fumbling with your phone to find the next good pump-up song. By just timing your music out and making sure you have enough songs to get you through your workout, you'll be making it that much less hard on yourself and probably focussing more on the exercises.
6. Stand Up!
In a piece for US News and World Report Kent Burden, wellness coach and author of The Office Workout: 75 Exercises to Do at Your Desk said to simply stand up every now and then if you sit at a desk all day. “Once you stand, all those postural muscles fire up,” he said. And if you're prone to getting fully absorbed in your work, set a reminder for yourself for every hour or so, or just make it your policy to always stand up when taking calls.
7. Stretch At Your Desk
Burden also recommended simply stretching at your desk, as it's good for blood flow and circulation, as well as spine health and general flexibility. The above video from YogaBody International has several great moves for stretching and loosening your body when in a seated position.
8. Turn Your Music Down
According to Lisa Tseng, MD, CEO of HealthInnovations, you should always keep your headphones at 60 percent max volume or less. She noted that constant exposure to music or podcasts above the advisable range leads to longterm hearing loss. And according to HealthyHearing.com, teens and people in their 20s are projected to experience hearing loss at higher rates than any previous generation due to prolonged headphone use.
Flossing may be the thing that many of us skip when we're super tired, but in a piece for Heathline, Dr. Ann Laurent, owner of a dental practice in Lafayette, Louisiana, said that if you have to skip one, she would actually recommend skipping brushing over flossing. She noted that flossing does a great deal in removing plaque buildup, which can cause gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
Healthy habits don't have to equal extreme deprivation or exercise madness. Just incorporate some or all of the above easy hacks into you day-to-day and start noticing the difference!