Defocused shot of a woman tying her shoelaces in a gym

When you’re trying to be healthier, it can be hard to figure out exactly where to start. Food or exercise? A brand new diet, or a few small changes? Gym five days a week or three?

Even though it may seem like this is the only way to approach your health, it isn’t. In fact there’s no need to do anything extreme right off the bat. We’d actually advise that you start small and shift up a gear each time you feel you’ve mastered something. You want to go for slow and sustainable, rather than rushed and restrictive.

Here are four ways you can get started making a healthier change in your lifestyle:

1. Add things, don’t take things away Fresh vegetables healthy food concept

When we think of health, the first thing we think about is all the stuff we shouldn’t be doing. Don’t smoke, don’t eat fast food, don’t eat candy, etc. And while these are good things to stop doing, it’s actually more effective if you start by adding things. Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet. Start carrying a water bottle. Add healthy habits and reinforce those, and as you start to experience positive changes in your health, it’ll be easier to stop with more harmful habits  like smoking and eating lots of fast food.

The Lifesum app has a variety of habit trackers that help you measure all the good things you’re doing for your health – they’re great ways to make positive changes and see yourself becoming healthier.

2. Start slow 

When you’re ready to start cutting back, take it slow. Like, really slow. Think of one unhealthy habit you have and cut it back by one grade. So for example, if you’re a smoker and typically smoke 10 a day, stretch it to nine a day; or if you have fast food four days a week, scale it back to three instead. You don’t want to shock your body into change, you want to ease it into it.

3. Increase your activity Shot of a young attractive woman stretching in a gym

The same principles apply when you’re starting to exercise. Don’t go from zero workouts to five each week, think of conscious ways to add more exercise into your daily life. Take the steps instead of the elevator, walk the dog twice a day instead of once, park the car at the back of the parking lot, hop off the bus a stop early and walk the rest. Once you’ve nailed the baby steps, the bigger ones will be less daunting.

4. Get a family member or a friend to commit to something with you Cross training gym, exercising and focus concepts.

Don’t this on your own. Phone a friend or ask your mom to join in. It doesn’t have to be much (in fact it shouldn’t be), it can be something as small as asking them to eat one healthy meal at home with you each week, or to come walk the dog with you a couple of afternoons a month. Accountability is key.

Are you trying to be healthier? Use Lifesum’s habit trackers to get started!

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams