My Itchy Travel Feet | The Baby Boomer's Guide To Travel

One Healthy Change a Month: Using Health Hacks

2013/10/07by Donna Hull


Trick our body with health hacks

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
  • Sniff peppermint oil to quell a craving or—chew mint gum or sip peppermint tea. 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 My Itchy Travel Feet: Breathtaking Adventure Vacation Ideas.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

October 7, 2013 at 10:58 am

Great tips! And all of them so easy to implement.
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October 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Many nice easy and practical tips in improving your overall health showing there really is no reason no to live life a little bit healthier!
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Donna Hull
October 12, 2013 at 7:36 am

Thanks, Alex. You’re young but as the years pass, health becomes more and more important. Poor health is a bigger impediment to travel than lack of money.


ruth pennebaker October 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Love these tips — and follow many of them. Making good habits like this isn’t really that hard.
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Donna Hull
October 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

Thanks, Ruth. You are right, making good habits requires a little dedication but that is all. Anyone can switch a bad habit into a good one if they really want to make the change.


merr October 12, 2013 at 9:57 am

I love this idea of one at a time, or, as I think about it, going gently. It’s so much better than forcing anything.


Alexandra October 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Whoa! I need to get myself some peppermint oil, or perhaps the tea, as you suggest. I’ve been craving food all weekend after a dental operation.
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Heather Cowper
October 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I like your tips, but the only thing is that nuts and peanut butter are healthy but quite high calories so I wouldn’t be snacking on those if I wanted to stay in shape.
Heather Cowper recently posted..A travel guide to the Costa Blanca: plenty to see at any time of yearMy Profile


October 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Excellent advice that can be taken in small doses to improve health.


Melanie from Frugal Kiwi October 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I love cucumber and fruit waters. More delicious by far!
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Fit After Fifty
November 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I’d also add to your diet hacks the idea of volumetrics, or subbing out ingredients for vegetables. This is especially helpful in pasta salads where you can reduce the pasta in favor of more veggies like peppers and tomatoes.


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