How does that saying go? “The best laid plans of mice and men...often go awry”? Even when we try our darndest to stick to a simple routine (taking a morning walk, getting up a half-hour earlier, eating more greens, etc.) we’re so quickly derailed by stress, distractions or just the temptation to hit snooze one more time. That’s why we tapped Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, to coach us through creating a healthier routine that actually works, plus tricks for how to stick to it.
1. Go a Little or Go Home
Dr. Axe recommends making tiny, incremental changes to your routine that are easier to implement than, say, committing to running three miles every day. “Some of the most beneficial things you can do to support your immune system include getting enough sleep and getting sunlight exposure or taking a vitamin D3 supplement.” Managing stress is also important, as well as regular exercise, he says. But little additions, like adding in more vitamins, probiotics and supplements can also have health-elevating effects.
2. It’s Not “One Size Fits All”
Your mother-in-law has started the paleo diet. Cool, cool. But does that mean you should hop on the bandwagon? Not exactly. In fact, Dr. Axe stresses that “healthy routines” aren’t one-size-fits-all, since different activities affect people differently. “It’s most important to pay attention to how your schedule affects things like your energy, mood and sleep. This way you can switch things up if they aren’t working well for you.” He also warns against trying too much at once, for fear of feeling overwhelmed with options. “There’s no shortage of diet trends, fitness advice and other information floating around today, and sometimes too much is a bad thing. Try following one or two trusted sources for advice and implementing their strategies slowly, rather than getting caught up in information overload.”
3. Make Time for Breakfast
In general, the morning is a more energized time of the day. Dr. Axe said that means “you’ll want to focus on doing things that uplift you, such as exercising and moving, getting outside in the sun, completing whatever work you have for the day (a good tip is to focus on the most difficult and demanding task first!), and eating an energy-boosting meal.” Dr. Axe says starting out the day with a healthy breakfast is important. “After all, it’s one-third of your total diet!” His suggestion? Try a collagen protein shake. “Collagen protein is the most abundant protein found in the human body and is described as the ‘glue’ that holds the body together.” Benefits include supporting joint mobility and comfort, helping to support skin health and elasticity, and improving the gut lining. It’s also gluten-free and made without dairy, eggs, nuts and other common allergens. Like with all supplements, it’s smart to start out with a smaller amount and to increase your intake gradually to make sure you respond well to it.
4. Get Others Involved
Too often, the only person stopping you from our fitness and diet goals is yourself (see: hitting the snooze again). Dr. Axe’s advice: “Team up with friends, family and coworkers to create ‘challenges’ focused on improving your eating and exercise habits,” like neighborhood walks or healthy-eating check-ins. That way, you’re held accountable not only to yourself but to a group of others, which makes you more likely to stick to the routine. If you can afford to, Dr. Axe also recommends hiring a fitness trainer or attending group classes to keep yourself on track. “Working out at home with some simple equipment, or in a nearby park with a buddy, is another easy option that is cost effective.”