Mar. 25. 2020
Healthy Practices
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

With new health and wellness trends popping up every month, it can be overwhelming to know where to start to make the biggest impact on your wellbeing. 

Should you take supplements or learn how to meditate? Should you get acupuncture or follow this specific plan? Should you juice this certain combination of vegetables or get cryotherapy?

And then all of this confusion and overwhelm can cause you to jump from one thing to the next without ever fully making these things a habit or to not take any action at all — neither of which support you in creating a long-lasting healthy lifestyle. 

But there are 3 things you should start with that will make the biggest impact on the way you feel every day — and I’m going to share them and exactly what you should focus on in this video!

The three areas you need to focus on first are the ones that are most impactful to our daily lives: eating well, moving consistently, and sleeping enough — and in just a minute, I’m going to dive deeper into more specifically what your focus should be on within those areas.

But first, I want to give you a little insight into why it’s important to build healthy practices within these areas first. 

These areas provide the foundation for all of the other areas of our lives. 

For example, if you’re not nourishing yourself well, you might feel low on energy in the afternoon, right when it’s time to pick up your kids. Or if you aren’t getting enough sleep, it’s going to be challenging to do your best work or learn a new skill. 

These areas also increase in their impact when they’re all working together. When you exercise, you sleep better, and when you sleep better, you have the mental energy to choose nourishing foods. 

It’s a cycle of support and simply by creating habits within these areas, you can really make major progress towards your goals and your wellness vision. 

Getting Enough Sleep

So let’s talk about the first area — getting enough sleep — and as a reminder, that’s usually 7 to 9 hours per night. 

The quality of sleep you get has a domino effect on the entire day. 

When you don’t have enough sleep — so many other aspects of your health and your mental capability suffers, impacting the other areas of your life. 

Start by building a habit of going to bed consistently at the same time every night and disconnecting from devices at least 30 minutes before. 

The first few nights, or maybe even the first week or two might be a little tricky if you’re not used to going to bed at the same time. Be consistent with it, even if you’re lying awake a little longer than usual — that consistency and that wind-down period will quickly transform to you being able to fall asleep with ease. 

Nourish Yourself

Moving on to the second area — eating well. This topic can get really complicated really quickly, but by simplifying, it can become a lot easier to ensure you’re nourishing yourself fully. 

Your focus here should be on the foundational five. The foundational five is an easy guideline I share so at every meal, you know you’re meeting nutritional goals while also keeping you full, easing digestion, and stabilizing energy.

The foundational five are: protein, fat, whole food starchy carbohydrates, and non-starchy carbohydrates (like veggies), and the flavor factor such as herbs, spices, and condiments to give your meals that deliciousness. Focus on eating these at every meal. 

Once you feel you consistently do that, then you can start adding on other things within this area that you want to explore, like supplements you may need based on professional recommendations, or adding juicing to your morning routine, or certain powders to smoothies.

Daily Movement

And the last area to focus on is moving consistently. And when I say consistently, I mean every day. 

Movement is so important to our health and we spend most of our day sedentary.

One thing I see happen often is someone trying to form a habit of going from not exercising at all or exercising infrequently to trying to make a habit of going to very intense classes everyday, whether that’s a spin class, strength training class, or a combination. 

This often doesn’t last too long and what’s more important is to focus on creating the habit of moving daily, regardless of what that movement is. 

With this, focus your effort on moving for 20 minutes a day. This can be a workout class a couple times a week, but it can also be a 20 minute walk or yoga session at home. 

Once you’ve built consistency there, then you can explore what it might look like to increase the number of days that 20 minutes is spent at the gym instead of a walk. 

But the most important thing is that you’re moving your body every single day. 

So to recap, the three areas to focus on eating well by making sure you have the core four on your plate at every meal, moving your body for 20 minutes a day, and going to bed at the same time every night with a 30-minute device-free period beforehand. 

If you’re ready to turn these into your habits, one last thing I recommend is grabbing my free guide for creating habits with ease where I’ll take you through my process for making a habit stick. 

If you liked this video, let me know by sharing your biggest takeaway and be sure to subscribe for more videos like this.