When I’m at the beach, I enjoy swimming in the ocean. But you won’t find me jumping in all at once. Oh no, I’m a step into the water one toe at a time kind of gal. It’s the same with my health. I’m better at making several small changes instead of one big one. That’s why the One Healthy Change a Month series exists.
Did you know that small changes can add up to big results? You could call it “making healthy substitutions” or “do this instead of that.” But like a savvy travel hacker on the lookout for a cheaper way to travel, I’m always on the hunt for the smarter way to reach health goals. I call these small changes health hacks. Here are just a few of the ways that I trick myself into better health:
Food health hacks
- Substitute flavored water for sodas. Make your own by adding lemons or cucumbers. The slight diuretic effect reduces bloating according to LiveStrong.com.
- Sniff peppermint oil to quell a craving or—chew mint gum or sip peppermint tea. Spry.com reports: “Studies suggest that the scent of peppermint stimulates the brain to release appetite-suppressing hormones and promotes a feeling of fullness.”
- Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee instead of sweetening it with sugar. You’ll save calories plus reap the medical benefits of cinnamon. Dr. Andrew Weil includes cinnamon in his anti-inflammatory diet pyramid.
- Substitute olive oil for butter and other oils. The Mayo Clinic reports on why olive oil is good for your health.
- Eat soup instead of a sandwich for lunch to control weight. But you’ll need to avoid those creamy soups!
- Reduce portion size by eating off smaller plates. You’ll trick both your eyes and your stomach.
- Brush teeth immediately after dinner to eliminate the urge for a night-time snack.
Exercise health hacks
- On busy days, divide exercise routines into small segments spread throughout the day. It will keep you from feeling squeezed for time. And it will break up the amount of time spent sitting at your desk.
- Exchange 30 minutes of seated sofa time with standing stretches while watching your favorite TV show. Another option: do crunches on an exercise ball when the show is on.
- Turn it up a notch—walk at an increased speed to burn more calories.
- Buy a pedometer and compete with the husband or office coworkers on who takes the most steps per day.
- Sneak in exercise by participating in a favorite sport or activity like swimming, hula hooping, dancing or tennis. Fun trumps an obligatory exercise routine any day of the week.
Healthy travel hacks
- Take the stairs—no elevator or escalators—on a cruise.
- Book the most active cruise excursions available.
- Park the car in the farthest corner of the parking lot when stopping for a meal while traveling.
- Do jumping jacks or run in place while fueling the car on road trips.
- Get up early enough to make a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread before leaving on an early morning flight. Substitute the sandwich for a bagle and coffee at the airport or the high carbohydrate snacks offered on the plane.
- Bring a bag of nuts like almonds or walnuts for a healthy travel snack.
- At dinner, share the main course with your travel partner (but order an extra salad so you consume enough vegetables).
- Say no to extra pours of wine at all-inclusive resorts (or cruises).
- Order dessert but stop eating after the first three bites. Advice offered by guest writer, Nora Lynch, in her article: 8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Cruise.
- Dance, dance, dance on cruises.
It’s not too late to join our challenge. Click on One Healthy Change a Month to read more.
What health hacks do you use? Share your tips in the comments. Alan and I are always looking for new ways to trick ourselves into being healthy.
A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.