With so much uncertainty surrounding our daily routines, of course, the #1 thing on your mind is not going to be keeping up with a diet (we need comfort food!!) or sticking to your trainer’s workout plan (sorry, burpees. Netflix is calling). But treating your body well can help you feel your best (whatever “best” means right now), and is also one of the most important acts of self-care you can do.
Instead of daunting health goals that seem impossible RN (curse you, 10,000 steps a day!), why not focus on attainable goals that will not only feel manageable but will bring you major benefits? Drastic change doesn’t have to come from drastic goals. In fact, change comes from small steps that turn into small habits and add up to totally transform your lifestyle and health. Here are 12 super simple, easy, and feel-good health goals you can start today that are oh so manageable:
1. Eat leafy greens with at least 2 meals a day
You get it at this point: what can’t leafy greens do? Since leafy greens pack a whole lot of health benefits, one of the simplest ways to get healthier is to add greens like arugula, spinach, and kale to at least two meals a day. Try tossing as a side salad with dinner or adding to your smoothie in the AM. If you’re bored with the same old salad or smoothie, there are lots of tricks and tips to incorporate greens into the meals you love. For example, try replacing a wrap with a collard green or bib lettuce, or blend spinach and kale into sauces like pesto. Take a break from baking banana bread and instead get creative with ways to add leafy greens (how do I start that as the next stay-at-home trend!?).
2. Meditate daily
There’s a reason that meditation is one of the most talked-about practices in the wellness world; some studies have shown meditation can actually change the brain, while other studies have shown that there might be evidence that meditation can impact physical symptoms like blood pressure. In other words: this sh*t is powerful.
Good news for us mere mortals: meditation isn’t just for yogis or health gurus. A simple, consistent meditation practice can benefit anyone, especially if you’re dealing with work stress, a big transition, or, I don’t know, are in the middle of an anxiety-inducing global crisis. Add meditation into your nighttime or morning routine with popular apps like Headspace, or try prompted journaling if you’re more visual.
3. Turn off technology for one hour every day
We’re all addicted to technology as it is, but take away in-studio yoga classes, in-person meetings, and after-work drinks with friends, and we’re quite literally staring at a screen 24/7. Even exercising, work meetings, and socializing are now done over Zoom, not to mention the amount of time our eyes are glued to shows we just need to binge (curse you, Outer Banks!). Whether it’s to decompress after work or during the hour before bed, shut off all technology (yes, that means your iPhone!) to read a book, chat with your roommate, or do something creative (like drawing or scrapbooking).
4. Meal prep veggies for the week
Even if you’re not huge on meal prepping every meal for an entire week, make sure you prep your veggies to ensure you make healthy choices throughout the week. Schedule time on Sunday to chop veggies you eat raw (like carrots), and roast or steam veggies you prefer cooked (like sweet potatoes or eggplant). Also, think about how you can add more produce into your routine. Try washing and slicing lemons to keep in a glass container (to add to water throughout the week), or rationing greens and fruit for single smoothie servings so all you’ll have to do the morning of is blend with water or almond milk. You’ll never need to grab sugary cereal or skip breakfast for the sake of saving time.
5. Go on at least one walk every day (or just get outside)
Spending more time at home could mean staying cooped up indoors 24/7, or it could mean taking advantage of the extra time to get outside. A simple health goal is to take at least one walk every day. Not only is getting your steps up good for your health (your Fitbit will be so proud!) but getting some fresh air and sunshine will boost your mood. If you’re feeling too lazy to go for a walk (or don’t have the time), do whatever you can to get some fresh air throughout the day: take your laptop out on the balcony or patio, make conference calls and phone meetings while walking around the block, or eat your lunch outside (just don’t forget SPF).
6. Make one small change to your diet every day
Whether it’s drinking an extra glass of water, adding spinach to your omelet, or replacing your afternoon chips and salsa snack with carrots and guacamole, make one tiny change to your diet every day. Making one change a day will feel manageable and you might even find new routines or recipes you’ll like enough to turn into a habit. Healthy eating is just a series of habits that form a domino effect. Start small today and see how your lifestyle changes over time.
7. Try an online workout you’ve never done
Sure, your favorite gym is indefinitely closed and your yoga studio is shut down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your fitness goals without the typical resources. In fact, this time at home can be a good time to push yourself out of your comfort zone by trying new workouts without having to pay for pricey classes.
If you’re a serial jogger, try a yoga flow on Youtube or a yoga-inspired app like Melissa Wood Health. If you’re a yogi through and through, try an online dance workout or tune into a HIIT session streamed on Instagram. Trying something new not only challenges your body (you can’t rely on muscle memory to push through), but it also might introduce you to a new workout you love and will want to include in your routine. Set a goal to try one new workout every week or two.
8. Drink more water
“Hydrate more” might be one of the most basic health goals, but that’s because it’s one of the biggest factors in improving your overall health. It also just so happens to be one of the most simple ways you can improve your health from the comfort of your own home. For some hydrating challenges, try replacing another beverage with water (like your daily Diet Coke or trading lemonade for lemon water), drink a glass of water while drinking other beverages (like sipping water while you sip an iced coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at night), or drink one extra glass of water than you did the day before to add up to optimal hydration. For an added challenge, add some super-ingredients to your water for bonus health benefits and delicious flavor.
9. Perfect a work-free morning routine
OK, it’s (finally!) time to get in control of your morning and stop yourself from checking email, Slack, or missed calls, first thing when you wake up. Even a harmless scroll to see what you’ve missed while you were sleeping means you’re going from 0 to 100 right away (no wonder you’re stressed all the time!). Instead, ease into your day with an old-school alarm clock (so you’re not tempted to check your phone when you turn off the alarm). Spend the first 30 minutes of your day meditating, making breakfast, journaling, or trying any of these other morning routine hacks. You’ll not only feel much calmer throughout your entire day, but you’ll make better choices for your physical and mental health.
10. Sleep 7-8 hours a night
Even if your diet fails and you get too lazy to exercise, prioritize sleep over everything (you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck). Getting enough sleep can affect your overall quality of life, so do whatever you can to get better sleep. If you have difficulty fitting more sleep into your schedule, start by going to bed five minutes earlier every night until you’ve gained an hour of sleep. If your problem is quality of sleep and you have difficulty falling (or staying) asleep, figure out why. Talk to your doctor about improving sleep quality, try adaptogens, or drink chamomile tea and reduce screen time before bed.
11. Move at least 20-30 minutes every day
“Exercise” doesn’t have to mean an hour-long HIIT workout or three-mile run. An online Pilates class is great on the days you have an hour to spare, but the truth is that many of us don’t have time (or energy) for a 60-minute workout every day of the week. If you try to challenge yourself to fit in an intense, long workout every day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, just commit to moving at least 20-30 minutes every day. If 30 minutes still seems tedious, move for 10 minutes at two different times every day, like at 10am and 3pm. Set an alarm on your phone and take a walk, go through a quick yoga flow, have a dance party, or do some stretches.
12. Change your reasons behind your health goals
If you’re working out and changing your diet because you want to lose weight or because you’re “supposed to,” these changes will never be something you look forward to, and therefore, the goals won’t turn into habits that stick. Instead, exercise to reduce stress and anxiety, improve self-esteem, reduce disease risk, or to be healthy enough to run around with your grandchildren when you’re older. Eat more veggies to give your body the nutrients it needs to feel its very best and help you live your most vivacious and energetic life. There are dozens of motivating reasons to set health goals, but looking a certain way is not one of them.