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Have you ever looked in the mirror in disbelief at what you saw? Do you feel like your body is 10 years older than it is? If you said yes to either one of those questions, then let me tell you something.

You should not feel that way.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

– Hippocrates

I spent the majority of my teen years on diets, working out, and completely unhappy with how my body looked. I mean with all that effort, I was still overweight. (Sigh!)

After high school and into college, things only got worse and more out of control.

I soon began to withdraw from my social life because I was getting bigger, more uncomfortable, and ashamed of how I looked. I would make excuses for not meeting up with friends, not going places with my siblings, and dodging birthday dinners and events my mom was throwing.

I was miserable.

And I don’t know about you guys, but it’s hard to dodge family.  There is always a birthday, a celebration, a get-together….. you know LIFE.

Instead of enjoying it with my loved ones, I was slowly throwing myself into a hole.

 

Get It Together Already

Okay, so I could go on and on about the details but I won’t. Instead, I’m going to say that there is a ton of information out there on how to change your life for the better.

And I obviously knew better, in fact, you probably do too. (Or maybe you don’t.)

But I would argue that knowing better without action doesn’t improve your health.

Taking action with the right information improves your health.

Deciding to change your lifestyle means that you are choosing to make taking care of yourself and your health a priority. So let’s talk about a few actions that you can start tomorrow.

 

#1 Every Day Is A Choice

I cannot say this enough. Every day I wake up, I am choosing the direction of my health.

What choices?

When I eat a bite of food. I am making a choice.  When I go for a walk or play badminton. I am making a choice. When I let go of the stress. I am making a choice.

Ladies, it is not easy. Not even a little bit. But it’s worth it.

Action Step: Make a choice that is aligned with bringing you closer to your health goals.

 

#2 Start Your Day With Water

When you get up in the morning the first thing you need to reach for (after a toothbrush of course), is a big glass of water.

I drink anywhere from 20 to 32 ounces in the morning. Somedays I do find it hard to get it down and other days it’s a breeze.

However, the benefits are well worth getting your morning drink in. Water hydrates your body, helps to keep you regulated, makes you feel fuller, and helps to detoxify your body.

That’s just lightly touching on the benefits that water can offer you. If it isn’t your best friend yet, I suggest you get acquainted.

Action Step: Drink 20 ounces of water every morning when you wake up.

 

#3 Your First Meal Should Be Nutritious

It happens time and time again. The first meal you choose to eat can make the difference in how your food choices for the entire day will play out.

Ditch the morning donuts or sugary health bar and eat a real meal.

My first meal is either oatmeal, grits, cereal, or a sweet potato dish. Oh, and I have water to drink.

I know that for most of you those meals do not seem to appease at all but let me let you in on a secret. I hated oatmeal.

I am not exaggerating. However, it was cheap and healthy so I ate it.

I ate it for my first meal every day for two weeks including weekends. I ate it cooked with water and topped with either bananas or chopped green apple.

Nothing special, it was just simple and nutritious. You can find healthy meal ideas here.

Action Step: Pick a healthy and nutritious meal and eat it as your first meal every day.

 

#4 Stretch Your Body

For those of you who don’t know, I was so overweight that getting out to do any exercise felt like a huge challenge for me.

Because of my weight gain, I just could not fathom running or jumping around even a few days a week.

I had constant back pain, my body ached, and I even wobbled because my weight was just too much for my body. I knew that I needed to start somewhere fast.

I started off with stretching every morning and night for 12-15 minutes.

Gradually that built up to walking around the neighborhood and playing badminton in the backyard. I am so grateful that I decided to start stretching. I did not think it would lead to anything but it did.

Moral of the story- start a morning and nightly stretching routine.

Action Step: Make a daily habit of stretching when you wake up and before you go to bed. Check out this book on stretching here.

 

#5 Love Yourself

When we are going through a physical change, we are often times going through a mental and emotional one as well.

The most important thing you can do is to remember to love yourself.

It’s true…you may not like what you see. Or you may feel sad about how you have treated your body all of these years, but you can make a change today.

Not every moment is going to be filled with, “I look good!” thoughts – but tell it to yourself anyway. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you.

You’re beautiful. You’re amazing. And you’re strong. So act like it.

Action Step: Look in the mirror and say five positive affirmations every morning after getting dressed.

 

Changing your lifestyle can be filled with uncertainty and overwhelm. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to avoid making changes to improve your health. Small choices towards a healthier lifestyle, stretching, and daily positive affirmations can help you along on the journey. So if you’ve ever wanted to know how to make a lifestyle change, then this is your start.

 

What lifestyle changes have had the biggest impact on your life? Share them in the comments.