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Small Steps for Big Change

Little Healthy Habits That Have a Big Impact on My Wellness

If you’re looking to make a change in your health and fitness, start small and build on your momentum. Here are a few of the little things I’ve implemented daily that add up to a greater impact:

1. Eliminate sugary beverages. Whether you were drinking a gallon of sweet tea or a can of Coke each day, these are empty calories and chemicals your body doesn’t need. If you need a caffeine fix, I’m with you: Drink coffee or tea (black or with a little bit of milk). If you need a treat, try sparking water, maybe with a splash of juice if you crave a little extra sweetness. But flood your body with primarily water and the benefits will be undeniable.

2. Take the stairs and get your steps in everywhere you can. As you go through your day, focus on ways you can get extra steps: Park a little farther away, take an extra lap around the grocery store, or get up frequently at the office for coffee or water breaks. (If you’re drinking as much water as I am, you might get your steps in going back and forth to the bathroom.) If you have the option (and your destination isn’t 20 stories up), take the stairs whenever they are available. I walk up and down a flight of stairs every day at work, sometimes multiple times in the day. It’s faster than the elevator and it’s one easy way to get a few more steps in.

3. Stop eating after dinner. Period. This is the first Body Back session that I’ve committed to closing my kitchen after dinner and not going back for an after-dinner snack, even a healthy one. It’s not as hard as I thought, if I’ve eaten well throughout the day and have a satisfying, nutritious dinner. When the snack attack hits, I’ll pour myself Lacroix, brush my teeth or chew sugar-free gum – but I won’t go back into the kitchen to forage for a handful of nuts that quickly turns into a 4-handful binge.

4. Pack a whole day’s worth of food the night before. As a working mom, this strategy is a necessity Monday through Friday: I pack a full lunch, plus two snacks to eat during the day at the office. Bringing my own food means less temptation with random office goodies. But I’ve also started packing my “lunch” on the weekend: Having the snacks and meals portioned out and ready to go on Saturday and Sunday make it a lot easier to grab for what I intended to eat, rather than the Teddy Grahams my kids snack on. This was a weakness in prior sessions that I’m focusing on correcting, and being diligent with packing and prepping is making a difference.

5. Conceptualize exercise as integrated into your day. Most days, I schedule and make time for a workout outside the house because I’ve learned this is what works for me to make sure I get it in. But there are many days where fitting in a full workout just can’t happen, because so many other things in the household need to happen. On these days. I focus on functional fitness wherever it fits: a quick walk on my lunch hour; a trip to the park with the kids; 10 minutes of core or 20 minutes of yoga before bed. Sometimes I’ll add in a minute or two of planks or wall sits for something extra. But break the mindset that a workout must be for 30 minutes or 1 hour and you’ll find freedom in the flexibility.

6. Prioritize self-care. I used to use self-care only as a reward: I’d treat myself to a pedicure or a massage at the end of a Body Back session to celebrate my accomplishments. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with self-care rewards – in fact, I encourage rewards of all kinds – self-care shouldn’t be limited to big “events” like a spa day. Make self-care part of your daily routine, whether that means finding time to read or soak in the bath or go to a yoga class or just breathe in silence alone. The head space you gain by making yourself and your wellness a priority gives you more energy to pursue your fitness goals.

Each session of Body Back, I find at least one new healthy habit that’s a game changer for my wellness. I’ll be adding to my list, along with more tips and inspiration, over the remaining weeks. Keep following my Body Back Transformation journey for more!

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Kate is a Glen Ellyn mom who blogs at NeverDoneWithFun.com about cultivating creativity amid the chaos of #momlife. Check out the blog and Instagram for daily inspiration and ideas for family, fitness, food and fun!