By Alexa Tucker
Dietitians and trainers not only help other people live their~best lives~, but they’re pretty good about incorporating healthy habits into their daily lives, too. And their top-tips below are all pretty doable, proving that living well doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire life. Because when it comes to living healthy, it’s not all about chugging a kale smoothie, sweating it out in 90-minute hot yoga sessions, or picking up fresh flowers from the farmer’s market.
Healthy living means different things to different people, but there are some simple habits that can help you lead a more balanced, energized life every single day—no matter what your goals are. So put these expert-approved tips in your green juice and sip it:
- Drink water like you mean it.
H20 is pretty much your BFF. “Every morning, I pour myself a big glass of water, which I drink before putting anything else in my body,” explains Nora Minno, R.D., C.D.N. “Staying hydrated keeps our bodies healthy down to the cellular level and it also helps keep us from overeating. Oftentimes we can mistake thirst for hunger,” she adds, which can lead to taking in more calories than your body needs from food.
Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, also swears by staying hydrated. “I never leave home without my water bottle,” she says. “My goal is to drink at least three bottles full each day. Dehydration can lead to feelings of hunger, headaches, and lack of energy, so having it with me at all times makes it easy to stay hydrated.”
- Enjoy your meals and try to eat without any distractions.
Mindful eating is one of those things that’s easier said than done—but worth working on. “While I can’t always escape eating a meal in front of my computer, I try to take at least 10 to 15 minutes to enjoy my meal [distraction-free],” says Rumsey. “No phone, no TV—just me and my food. This enables me to really taste and appreciate my food. Most importantly, I’m able to pay attention to my satiety cues, and stop eating when I am hungry.”
“I find that it doesn’t matter what is on my plate: If I’m distracted, I’m more likely to overeat because my mind is somewhere else other than my plate,” adds Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D., host of the Body Kindness Podcast. “Eating is a sacred ritual to me, and even though we are all busy, we at least owe it to ourselves to take pauses in our day to savor our food—that goes for French fries and kale salads.”
- Enjoy some fresh air when you can.
Stop and smell the roses—or at least walk by some. “Getting fresh air is so important for mental health,” says Minno. “Even if it is just getting out of the office for 10 minutes at lunchtime to take a walk around the block, that small bit break can leave you feeling reenergized and put you back in a positive mood.”
- Find little ways to stay active throughout the day.
“Even if I have a busy day ahead of me, I always try to get in some type of workout five times a week,” says Nazima Qureshi, R.D., M.P.H., C.P.T. “Not only do I get the benefits of exercise, I also use this time as ‘me’ time, which helps me unwind. I like to try something new to change it up so I don’t get bored of the same-old exercise routine.”
And if you don’t have time to log a full workout, try breaking it up. “In a perfect world I’d have time to get to a yoga class or spend an hour at the gym, but having an inconsistent schedule doesn’t always allow for that,” says Jessi Haggerty, R.D., C.P.T., creator of the BodyLove planner. “If I can’t get in an hour of ‘structured’ exercise, I make sure to squeeze in some extra walking on my breaks throughout the day.”
- Eat your vegetables.
“I include at least three to five vegetables and three fruits in my daily diet,” says Leah Mark, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., C.P.T. “I make sure they are varied in both color and fiber content.”Vegetables are also lower in calories than other foods, so bulking up meals with the good stuff can help keep you from going overboard—not to mention all of the vitamins and minerals they have to offer. “Meeting the recommendation for at least five servings of veggies a day can be easy if you plan it right, plus you will reap all of the health benefits from consuming nutrient-dense, low-calorie veggies,” says Emily Cope-Kyle, M.S., R.D.N., owner and consulting dietitian at Emily Kyle Nutrition.
- Treat yo’self with dark chocolate.
I mean, I guess I can get on board with this habit. “I am really a believer in enjoying your food, and I never feel guilty including treats on a regular basis,” says Marit Harney, R.D., L.D.N., C.P.T. “I am a huge sucker for dark chocolate (with 85 percent cocoa), which is lucky because it’s very low in sugar! The fats in dark chocolate are a great source of energy,” she adds, not to mention the antioxidants and fiber it delivers. You can even start your day with a little indulgence: “I set my alarm about 20 minutes early in the morning so I can make an espresso, grab a piece of dark chocolate, and jump back into bed to savor it without distraction,” says Tina Marinaccio, M.S., R.D., C.P.T. Starting the day with coffee and chocolate? Yes, please.
- Catch enough zzz’s.
“Everyone who knows me knows that sleep is my best friend,” says Minno. “I get a minimum seven and a half hours of sleep every night! Sometimes this even means leaving an event early or shutting down my computer by 9 P.M. (even though I would love to keep online shopping). Getting plenty of sleep not only makes me feel energized and ready to tackle the day, but it leads to better decision making,” she adds. Not sleeping enough can mess with your willpower the next day and throw off your hormones, which can affect your weight.
- Remind yourself of the things you’re grateful for.
Even if you’re not into meditation (which many healthy people swear by, too), simply taking a moment to reflect on what you’re thankful for can help you feel grounded. “When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do before even getting out of bed is think of three things I’m grateful for,” says Minno. “When you’re a go-getter and a goal-oriented person, it can be so easy to focus on the things you don’t have or still want to accomplish, so it’s important to remind myself of everything I have and all I am grateful for.”