12 Baby Steps to Optimal Health
People are different.
What works for one person may not work for the next.
Some people (like myself) prefer to dive in head first, make changes right away and quit everything cold turkey.
Others prefer the longer, slower approach. They like to dip their toes into the water first, then walk slowly into it and immerse themselves.
Different strokes for different folks.
This post is for those who prefer the longer, slower approach.
If you implement one of these per week, you’ll be on your way to superhumanity in 12 weeks.
If you do one per month, it will take a year but each step can yield a powerful effect so you should see benefits pretty quickly.
1. Remove Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Probably the single most effective thing you could do to improve your diet and lower your risk of weight gain and disease, is to remove sugar sweetened beverages from your diet.
This also applies to fruit juices, they have the same amount of sugar as sodas.
To make things simple, don’t drink calories and don’t drink “fake calories” either.
2. Start Eating a Healthy Breakfast
Make the first meal of the day a healthy one.
A meal that contains healthy animal proteins, plenty of fats and vegetables will keep you satiated for a long time and set the tone for the day.
Some eggs and vegetables, perhaps even a fruit or some starches (if you’re not currently low-carbing).
Naturally, you can use fruits such as blueberries and blackberries, and greens such as wheatgrass, but they are harder to find and more expensive.
I personally eat the same breakfast every day. Omega-3 enriched eggs and a vegetable mix fried in coconut oil, seasoned with an organic spice mix.
3. Begin Walking Regularly
Walking is definitely an underrated form of exercise.
It won’t make you sweat a lot or go out of breath, but the benefits can still be immense. Both physical and mental benefits.
For someone who doesn’t exercise at all, simply going for walks a few times per week is likely to have a drastic positive impact on health.
4. Eliminate Gluten Grains From Your Life
Among the worst parts of the modern diet are the gluten grains, especially wheat.
Gluten grains may lead to fatigue, digestive issues and various health problems. There is also some evidence that they can be addictive and cause overeating.
Really, sugar and gluten are probably the two unhealthiest ingredients in the diet. The simple but hard act of removing these two can have a major impact on your health and waistline.
Just don’t go and replace them with processed “gluten-free” replacement foods, these are bad too.
5. Replace Your Cooking Oils With Healthy Fats
Throw away all the processed seed and vegetable oils and replace them with healthy, natural fats.
It is important to get Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats in a certain ratio and the seed oils are predominantly Omega-6 fats. Most people get way too much of these.
Saturated fats like butter, coconut oil and lard are great for cooking.
Whatever you do, do not use polyunsaturated fats for cooking since their abundance of double bonds make them especially reactive when exposed to high heat and oxygen.
6. Start Having Meat or Fish for Dinner Every Day
Time to ditch the TV meals and take-out dinners.
Replace them with healthy, home-cooked meat and/or fish.
Really, on a healthy, real-food based diet animal foods like meat, fish and eggs should form the majority of your caloric intake.
Serve with vegetables, perhaps even some starches like sweet potatoes if you’re not currently low-carbing.
7. Start Resistance Training
There are few things that are as good for your body composition and well-being as strength training.
Yes, that means weights. Get a gym subscription and go there 2-3 times per week to lift heavy things. If going to the gym is not an option, find a good bodyweight routine and perhaps invest in some dumbbells or kettle bells.
Ladies, this applies to you as well. No need to worry about turning into the incredible hulk, that’s not about to happen with a little bit of strength training.
8. Start Eating Healthy Lunches and Snacks
Now that we’ve got both breakfast and dinner covered, it’s time to transform your lunches and snacks.
For lunch, either cook something at home, use leftovers or find fast food restaurants that actually serve healthy foods. It can help to tell the waiter that you’re severely intolerant to both sugar and gluten (white lie, but it works).
9. Set up a Complete Exercise Program That Fits With Your Lifestyle
A combination of strength training and cardio works best to ensure both optimal health and body composition.
There’s no need to train like an elite athlete and have your life revolve around your workouts, but exercise is one of the most powerful things you can do to impact your health and longevity.
10. Clean Out Your Pantry and Replace it With Healthy Foods
Now that you’ve got your diet pretty much covered, it’s time to go through your pantry and toss all the old garbage out.
Grains, artificial chemicals, flours, cereals, sugars, crackers… it’s all got to go.
Not having any of these foods in the house will help you stay away from them.
11. Fix Your Sleep Schedule and Learn to Combat Stress
An important but often ignored part of being healthy is to ensure you get proper sleep. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, don’t drink caffeine after 2pm and make sure you sleep in complete darkness.
Also, stress can have a dramatic negative impact on health and can even make you fat. Learn to combat stress, perhaps try meditation or simplifying your life in some way.
12. Eliminate Junk Food Completely
If you want to be completely healthy, you have to eat completely healthy.
Eliminate junk food from your life. If you really must and you’re sure you can handle it, then restrict it to one “cheat meal” per week.
If you can implement all the steps above, you will add years to your life, get a great body and feel like a superhuman every day. Guaranteed.
I’m a 20 plus newlywed, nutrition student and aspiring writer, with a love for chocolate, oatmeal and exercise. I enjoy exercising and learning about nutrition and health, and I am currently training for my first half marathon.