If you're ready for a healthier lifestyle but don't know where to start, it's important to remember that you don't have to make sweeping changes all at once. Completely overhauling your lifestyle overnight may be counterintuitive to creating lasting positive health habits, according to the American Psychological Association. A healthy habits checklist that includes small, attainable goals may help you make changes that you can sustain over time.
Three NOW Wellness Experts - celebrity health coach Kelly LeVeque, functional medicine practitioner Dr. Will Cole, and registered dietitian nutritionist Maya Feller - share their top tips for incorporating simple, healthy habits into your daily wellness routine.
Your Checklist for Healthy Living
Get excited about water. Adding adequate hydration to your daily healthy habits checklist is a smart move. Water plays an important role in supporting your body's key functions. It regulates body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, protects tissues, helps the body remove waste, and supports healthy digestion. Yet many people struggle with drinking enough water throughout the day.
One way to boost hydration is to carry a reusable water bottle so you can refill it throughout the day. But if drinking plain water doesn't sound enticing to you, holistic nutritionist celebrity health coach Kelly LeVeque has flavor-enhancing suggestions to make hydration a part of your daily wellness routine. "Fill up a 40 oz. bottle and add electrolytes, an herbal tea bag, or a squeeze of citrus. Adding flavor can help you drink more water and improve hydration."
Flavor is not the only benefit of electrolytes. One of the many functions of these essential minerals is to regulate the balance of fluids in the body. "Electrolytes are especially helpful if you're physically active or if you live in a hot climate," LeVeque says.
Step outside."Spending time in nature is crucial for mental and physical health - even if it's just a 10-minute walk," says Dr. Will Cole, a top functional health practitioner and author of bestselling book "Ketotarian." Dr. Cole points to the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, which is defined as immersing in nature. Research on how spending time outdoors supports health is ongoing, but studies indicate that there could be physical and mental health benefits. Positive effects may include lower tension and stress levels, increased physical relaxation, and a balanced inflammatory response by the body.
For an added bonus, make going outdoors a part of your healthy habits checklist when the sun is out. "It allows you to soak up vitamin D," Dr. Cole says. Vitamin D promotes bone health by supporting calcium absorption.* It also supports cognitive health and boosts immunity by helping the body fight off viruses and bacteria.*
In addition to sun exposure, a few foods contain vitamin D, including fortified milk and cereal. However, most adults don't consume enough vitamin D in their diet, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. If you don't get enough sun exposure or vitamin D from foods, a vitamin D supplement may help.
Make time for movement."Movement is integral to whole-body health," says registered dietitian nutritionist Maya Feller, who's an adjunct professor at New York University and cookbook author. In fact, staying physically active can be one of the most impactful lifestyle choices you can make to increase longevity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Movement promotes heart health by regulating blood pressure levels, boosting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowering triglyceride levels. Staying physically active also can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, such as breast and colon cancer.
Other benefits of movement include weight management, bone and muscle strength, and increased mobility to improve balance and lower the risk of falls. Plus, movement promotes brain health and cognition. "And for many, it's a way to reduce stress and boost mood," Feller says.
Make sustainable changes."Overhauling your entire diet is a daunting task," Dr. Cole says. "It requires you to drastically change your daily routine. For most of us, that's unrealistic. It only sets us up for failure." Instead, Dr. Cole recommends making small changes and staying consistent. "For example, try adding one new healthy food a week. Or focus on establishing a healthy breakfast routine first. Then move on to lunch and dinner once you feel like you've mastered the first meal of the day."
The functional health practitioner recommends taking the same approach to other lifestyle changes, such as physical activity or supplements. His advice: "Don't bite off more than you can chew. Decide what changes are sustainable for you."
Stack your wellness habits.If you're looking to develop a self-care routine, LeVeque suggests taking inventory of your wellness goals so you can stack your healthy habits. "It reminds you to keep up with your daily wellness routine while making it easier to fit it all into your day. Plus, it makes you feel great," the holistic nutritionist and health coach says.
For example, if you're looking to decrease screen time, read more and boost your skin care, do it all in a bath. "Set up your bathroom cabinet with magnesium flakes, liquid coconut oil, and your favorite face mask, and commit to spending time with that book you've been meaning to read," LeVeque suggests. "You'll be surprised to learn what habits you can stack and how one activity can trigger other healthy behaviors."
Set yourself up for restorative sleep. Sleep is a key component of a healthy habits checklist. "It helps your body rest and repair," Feller says. Not getting enough sleep is associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression, according to the CDC. The bottom line is restorative sleep promotes good health.
Prepare for a restful night by creating the right environment. Keep your room quiet, dark, and cool. Next, establish a sleep routine and follow it every day. Decide what time you'll go to bed and what time you'll get up and stick with your schedule.
What you do before bedtime also matters. Turn off the TV and silence your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Being mindful of alcohol consumption also can have a significant impact on the quality and duration of sleep, Feller advises. "Too much alcohol acts as a stimulant, and it can disrupt sleep," she says.
If you have trouble falling asleep occasionally, talk to your doctor about melatonin. Supplements that contain melatonin, such as the NOW® Sleep Regimen 3-in-1 capsules, may help you fall asleep by increasing relaxation.*
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.