Sep. 25. 2014
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of NS and Creator of The Method

I often hear/read in the media or see someone post on social media about some crazy fitness plan or restrictive diet- almost boasting that what said individual is doing, is the “right” way and the only way to “get healthy”. First, I beg all of you to take 1 minute, that’s all I promise, 1 minute to think about this- what does being healthy mean to you?

Let’s just sit on that question for a minute.


Once you’ve come up with your answers, visions, feelings, and thoughts around what being healthy means to you, I challenge you to take your health into your own hands, be your own advocate, and drop all the media influence telling you what you “should” be doing. Below, I’m sharing a list of my favorite small (and practical) steps you can take every single day to optimize your health. Nope, these aren’t additional “shoulds” from the media, these are practical steps EVERYONE can take!

1. Sleep

Yeah, yeah, we all know it. Sleeping is important. BUT did you know that if you’re chronically suffering from poor sleep or insomnia, you’re also negatively affecting your hormones- especially those hormones that regulate hunger, stress, which can impact our weight. Aim for at least 7-9 hours every night.

TIP: set your “bedtime” boundary and don’t compromise. If you know you’re waking up at 6, 10pm is your cut-off!

2. Slow down

I’ve mentioned this time and time again, especially sounding like a broken record to my clients, but taking the time to slow the mind down through meditation allows your mind to refocus, re-energize, and ultimately be more productive.

TIP: try my 2-minute mindfulness challenge!

3. Organize

I’m an efficiency nerd, straight up. I’m on every to-do list application out there, every resource I can get my little hands on to make time management effortless and working FOR me not AGAINST me is awesome. How else are you to juggle and balance life/work/social without prioritizing and being organized?! I know when I first started creating my own business, this was a challenge for me, thankfully I have a mini-team on board to help me keep my sanity when running everything 😉

TIP: Start your day with a to-do list and prioritize those tasks you MUST get done, before anything else. Some of my favorite apps we use are RedBooth, Mailbox app on my phone, Quick Notes, and google calendar. Nothing beats an old fashion pen and paper- many of you have seen pictures with my notebook in it, I practice what I preach!

4. Reality > media

I love social media, it’s brought Nutrition Stripped places I never dreamt- from Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, to other parts in the US. BUT, social media can be a time suck. One minute you’re looking at Instagram, the next you’re opening a tab to Facebook, then we’re reading tweets and pinning; the cycle is vicious. Set your boundaries!

TIP: Set your boundaries for using social media- I give myself set hours to use it and nothing afterwards or beforehand. Most of the things I share on social media are related to Nutrition Stripped and are things I LOVE sharing with you all, but there has to be a balance.

5. Morning routine

In my opinion, this is the MOST important tip on here that keeps me on track. Starting the morning in silence, meditating, getting a great workout in for that mind-body connection, following it by nourishing and refueling your beautiful bodies, and prepping for the day ahead.

TIP: Set your alarm earlier, if you’re not a morning person even waking up 15-30 minutes earlier can give you a little bit more breathing room to clear your mind and start the day off on a good note. Gone are the days of frantically waking up, rushing around, skipping breakfast, forgetting to use the bathroom (hey, I know some of you do!), and stressing out about every task you have to do.

6. Green it up!

Simple as that. Try to add in more greens into your day, eat and consciously add more greens to your diet whenever you can!

TIP: the easiest way, start your morning off with any 1 of my many green smoothies, even better the Stripped Green Smoothie!

7. Eat balanced

Balanced is about as cliche as it gets, but it’s true. Getting in a great balance of macronutrients throughout your day, your week, and even at each meal is vital to keep you feeling awesome enough to tackle the day and hormonally stable. So many of my women clients have been on restrictive diets where they crave sugar and carbohydrates simply because they’re not eating them at all or depriving them- no wonder your hormones are craving sugar!

TIP: eat overall balanced at meal times or follow my nutrition protocol and plan all my clients are on to achieve your goals without crazy diets.

8. Move & sweat

My favorite forms of exercise are HIIT-style circuit training, power walking, boxing, etc.; but “moving” is far more than working out consistently, it’s also about moving throughout your day. Think about how many of us sit at a desk all day working, typing, on the phone, etc., we’ve lost the element of routine walking and movement.

TIP: If you’re at your desk all day, make it a point to walk to the furthest restroom to take a break, go outside for 10 minutes, or do jumping jacks/the rebounder when you can.

9. Love

Whether it’s making a date with your man, going out on the town, reading a book at your favorite coffee shop, making a phone call date with home (hi mom!), hosting a girls night (my fav), or keeping it low key and hanging solo! All of these things are incredibly nourishing to our health, heart, and well-being.

TIP: no more excuses that you “don’t have time”, make the time!

10. Play outside

Get out in nature to take a walk, hike, garden, play with your dog, throw a frisbee around, ride a bike, etc. Just get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine (a.k.a. vitamin D!).

TIP: if you work indoors for long periods of time, set your alarm/calendar to go off every 2 hours to take a quick walk outside or even a 2 minutes of fresh air.

11. Pets

Research has clearly shown individuals with pets often experience greater happiness, connectedness, and well-being- hence why animals are used so often in rehabilitation programs, therapy, or for service.

TIP: …. get a dog. No, but seriously volunteer at a local animal shelter if you can’t adopt or get a pet just yet!

12. Tidy up

Clear space, clear mind. I operate off of this motto especially working from home many days of the week. If my studio space or home is a disaster, my mind is cluttered and completely distracted Keeping a clear space also always for the ease of flow between tasks, organizes things to where you’re operating with efficiency.

TIP: take 10 minutes before you start engaging in work to clean your space, tidy your desk, or clean house. Really, who can’t spare 10 minutes in order to better serve them?

13. Growth

Be willing to do something that pushes you outside your comfort zone. I often make this a monthly goal and sometimes it’s a daily goal, either way I continually embrace those things that completely frighten me in order to grow. An example from my life, quittingg all of my formal jobs to start my own business, and…. writing a cookbook! All of which were completely terrifying, yet the best times of my life (thus far).

TIP: catch yourself at those uncomfortable moments and ask yourself, how can I challenge myself in this moment?

14. Give back

Giving back doesn’t have to mean volunteering every week or month, giving back can be little things- common curtesy of human nature that some of us forget when we’re “too busy” such as opening a door for someone, taking the tab for the person in line after you at the coffee shop, being kind to your neighbor, lending a hand for a friend who needs you, etc.

TIP: sometimes all it takes is asking. Ask a friend or loved one if they need help, more often than not you can totally help them with something!

15. DO

So many of us, myself included, sit down and set goals. What good are goals if we don’t make any forward movement towards them to accomplish them? Set goals, but also set them with the intention to complete them- remember my post on goal setting 101? Check that out for more support and “how to set goals”.

A couple additional resources that can help you get on track can be found in my ‘Back to Basics Bundle’ a downloadable bundle full of grocery shopping tips, lists, meal planning and more.

Okay, I think that’s enough for a long-winded post today and those of you who’ve made it to the end here I congratulate you on taking 15 small steps to better health (even if it is just reading about them).

xo McKel

(fitness and B and I in kitchen photography by The Ulmers)