Simple Ways to Live Healthier

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Here are simple ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

One of my goals this summer is to continue down the road toward living a healthier lifestyle. I realize that there is a vast array of opinions on what that looks like. In my 41 years of life on this planet, the public understanding has changed like the wind.

I still remember the 3-2-4-4 nutrition mantra from elementary school. A square meal consisted of 3 servings of dairy, 2 servings of meat, 4 servings each of breads/grains and fruits/vegetables. Since then there have been too many food trends to count, many of which contradict each other.

How can we know which way to go when it comes to healthier living?

My gut as well as a little research tell me that these five ways will go far to help you live a healthier lifestyle. 

glass of water

1. Drink more water.

While you can die from drinking too much water, few of us are at risk of that happening. Most of us with our coffee and pop-drinking habits are walking around on the verge of dehydrating ourselves. However, staying adequately hydrated can help us stave off fatigue, headaches, constipation, and a variety of other ailments. The general rule of thumb is to shoot for 8 glasses a day, though the Mayo clinic recommends more.

Need some help to make water more of a regular thing?

  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up and another when you go to bed. Sleeping can be very dehydrating. Fuel your body before and after sleep. This gets you two cups toward your goal.
  • Keep water handy. Get a favorite water bottle or glass and keep it filled. Set up a row of drinking glasses at night before you go to bed. If you’re nursing a baby, have a ready source of drinking water near your bed and next to the rocking chair.
  • Order water when dining out. Not only is the water free, but it’s better for you than most of the other things you could order.
  • Try fruit for flavoring. Liven up your water with some citrus or other fruit for flavoring. Make lemon cubes. Try spa water.
  • Opt out of caffeinated beverages. Coffee, tea, and soda can dehydrate you. If you’re going to drink them, drink a glass of water for every other beverage you imbibe.
  • Add bubbles. It may be an acquired taste for some, but I love to treat myself to Pellegrino or other bubbly water, usually with ice and lime.

Vegetable Kabobs 3

2. Eat more veggies.

I’ve done a lot of food reading over the years. I’ve received lots of handouts from doctors on the “ideal diet”. I’ve chatted with lots of “crunchy” friends. None of them completely agree with one another, but no one can argue with the idea that we should eat more veggies.

There are so many ways to prepare them, and so many tasty renditions, that we shouldn’t really get bored of vegetables. Fresh, in-season, and local are typically better in flavor, price, and quality. Frozen is a great, economical second. Organic is ideal, but  the availability of affordable organics varies by region.

Do the best you can with the budget you have, just increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. The more real food you buy as opposed to processed, manufacturer “food products”, the better you’ll be.


3. Start exercising.

Yes, it is funny that I’m saying this. What’s even funnier is that I’ve worked out, truly worked out, like an hour a day, 12 times in the last 2 weeks! Holy smokes!

Even my husband is stunned. This is not the woman he married. But, he is thrilled because he knows how much pain I’ve had in my back, and he wants me to feel better. We both know that I’ll be healthier if I put in some time.

Exercise is one of the habits I regret not having cultivated earlier. I want to be a better example for my kids than I have been. For the last few years, I’ve been doing the bare minimum (if we can call it that), just flirting with exercise. Now, I’m committing to a regular regime.

So, how do you work it in?

  • Get a workout video and try it out 2-3 times per week before the kids wake up.
  • Load the baby into the stroller and take a walk.
  • Join a gym and make a schedule to go. Most offer free childcare.
  • Find a friend to work out with.
  • Read the Happy Housewife’s series on getting fit and then just do it. 😉

bedroom after

4. Sleep more.

Years of night waking with babies had me conditioned to function on five or six hours of sleep. Function, yes. Thrive, no. Eventually, those late nights and early mornings caught up with me. I realized that burning the candle at both ends was having a negative impact on my health. I needed to get more sleep.

Over time, I’ve switched my bedtime from 1 or 2 am to 9:30 or 10. This was huge. I used to set the alarm to wake me in the wee hours. Now, I let the birds and my body’s clock wake me at around 6ish, sometimes 7. Last summer when I was really in need of restoring rest to my body, I took a daily cat nap which was amazingly energizing. Better than coffee. Seriously.

Find out what your body’s rhythm is and go with it. Don’t tell me you can’t nap. Just try it for a month and see if your body adjusts. Don’t tell me you can’t get to bed earlier. Life will go on if you don’t watch that show tonight. Really. This is especially important if you’re getting up with a baby at night.

Making sleep a priority can have a huge impact on your health and well-being.

doctor's office

5. Get a physical.

Since I had six babies in eleven years, I spent a lot of those years in doctor’s offices. Once I had my last post-partum visit, it was easy to just overlook going to the doctor. Two years ago I went for my first real physical. I even had a mammogram.

I don’t love my doctor. He’s a little too quick with the prescription forms. But, I do appreciate getting a yearly check-up. They run some blood work, check my moles, and generally make sure the basics are up and running.

If you’ve got insurance, then go ahead and make that appointment today. If medical expenses are tricky right now, find out what’s available in your area. Often there are free or low-cost clinics that provide help.

In many cases, underlying medical conditions can be treated and cured if detected early, so it’s in your best interest — and that of your family — that you try to get a physical on a yearly basis.

6. Watch your posture.

Good posture not only helps you avoid back pain, but it also gives you confidence and helps you look your best.

Stop crossing your legs. We do this out of habit or because we think it’s attractive, or whatever. But, the truth is that crossing your legs can contribute to lower back pain. It’s also been credited with poor circulation and spider veins.

To have good posture and a healthy back, it’s best for your body to be “balanced” or neutral. Don’t do something that will throw you off kilter. Crossing one leg over the other at the knee pulls the hip and lower back out of sync with the other side of the body.

Use a crossbody bag. Likewise, if you wear a bag or purse on one shoulder, you’re putting extra weight on that side and throwing your body out of balance. A crossbody bag or a backpack distribute the weight more evenly, thus preventing the strain.

Furthermore, anytime that you’re carrying things, try to distribute the weight evenly so that one side of your body is not strained.

Avoid sleeping on your tummy. If you’ve got back pain, sleeping on your stomach is a no-no. If you want to avoid back pain in the future, start sleeping on your side or back. Sleeping on your tummy requires your neck to turn to the side and creates extra pressure on muscles and joints.

I know, hard habit to break. Chances are you didn’t tummy sleep while pregnant, so you can probably adjust with time. Our chiropractor suggested safety pinning a sock to your shirt at night. Put a tennis ball in the sock. You probably won’t want to sleep on the sock, so your body will require you to turn.

Sit up straight — in a good chair. You’re probably slouching right now as you read this. Sit up straight! It may take some getting used to, but the more you use those muscles, the stronger they will become.

If you sit at a computer or desk for any length of time, it’s important to sit in a comfortable, ergonomic chair. You can also sit on an exercise ball, provided that your feet can lie flat. That’s what I currently do. The ball requires you to use extra balance and forces you to sit up straight.

Get fitted properly for a bra. My chiro didn’t say this. I haven’t seen it documented. This is just my opinion. But, I’ve been professionally fitted for a bra twice. Both times, I found such an amazing difference in my posture and comfort afterwards.

It makes sense, you’re carrying weight. It needs to be comfortable and supported properly. I read one statistic that said 85% of women wear the wrong size bra. If that’s the case, then a lot of us are carrying that weight around poorly.

A bra fitting is free. I’ve been to Macy’s as well as Dillard’s. Prior to my first fitting, I was told to look for a gramma-type woman. The young whipper snappers at Victoria’s Secret don’t have the experience. I found this to be true. I went into VS once and walked right back out and headed down to Dillards.

I’ve also found that the more expensive bras, fitted properly, are significantly better and longer-lasting than the cheapos you might buy at Target.

You only have one body; take care of it. These are things that we as moms can do to improve our own health, but we can also model good habits for our children so that they can avoid back pain and poor posture as they age.

I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I’m a mom who wants to live a quality life that allows me to move about freely. I want to live to see my grandkids. While getting healthier doesn’t guarantee that, it sure does increase my odds.

What’s one way that you want to get healthier?

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  1. These are awesome tips! When I am constantly doing these things (well, the physical is only once a year 🙂 I have so much more energy!

    I gave up caffinated beverages at the beginning of the year and it was HARD! I took long naps daily for almost two weeks before my body started regulating itself. However, I also lost ten pounds in those two weeks, so I know the caffeine was not doing my body any favors.

    If I were to add one, it would be to avoid fast food when eating out. Instead of something like Burger King or McDonalds for a quick meal, run through a Subway. Makes such a difference in energy for the rest of the day (believe me, I’m the drive thru queen!).

    1. Yep, fast food is a big one. Pop, too. I kept to the basics so folks wouldn’t feel guilty. But, I’m right there with you. 🙂

  2. a friend has had great luck with back pain by doing some kettleball workouts. She uses a certified trainer as some don’t raelly know how to use it successfully in a workout, but worth a mention to you.

  3. This is the encouragement I needed. I’m 40+ & most of my friends are still late 20’s- early 30’s doing all the fad diets & dropping weight pretty easily. (Really one lost 15lbs in less than 2 weeks by eliminating soda—–how much was she drinking?!?) But it’s not really healthy—there is a difference between being healthy & being skinny.
    I know I need to work on exercising & sleep. I tend to injure myself doing workout videos at home so we’re looking at joining the Y with the help of a family grant. BUT we need to just fill out the paperwork & get going!

    1. Yeah, I think the workout videos can make us overdo. I’m doing an hour to an hour and a half at the Y every day and feeling pretty good.

  4. This is a good and sensible list. I do all of them, and even put ‘ get physical appointment’ on my to do list yesterday! Thanks for the reminder…I was looking forward to forgetting that one!

    Even unhealthy people ( and I have serious muscle and other issues, most likely due to living with undiagnosed celiac disease for years) can really benefit from doing these things. Now I am almost as fit as my healthy but sedentary friends even though at one point I could barely feed myself. It is largely because I follow these rules, as well as one more: eat quality fats.

    1. Thank you for chiming in. I know that you are a great success story and have the wisdom to back it.

  5. Thank you for this timely reminder – healthy living is such a priority of mine and this reminder helps me prioritize :).

  6. I could use some work in all those departments! Except for water – I’m pretty good about that.

    Right now I’m working on decreasing my sugar intake. I have a pretty good diet, but I can really fall off the health wagon when I see cookies, cakes, and all the things that have too much sugary processed crap. I’m going to go for more naturally sweeter foods like fruits this summer (which there are *plenty* of this time of year) to be healthier.