3 Realistic Changes You Can Make to Take Control of Your Health

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A professional headshot of Kylee Eagles, DO of South Shore Health.

Kylee C. Eagles, DO, Orthopedic Sports Medicine

A woman smiles as she holds a weight over her head during an outdoor exercise class.

You want to start living a healthier lifestyle, but you don’t know how to begin.

These days, it’s hard to avoid resorting to extremes: entrepreneurs are constantly marketing the latest fad diet, the miracle cleanse, or perfect workout routine. Much of the advice we hear is contradictory.

Let’s face it: trying to make healthy changes can be overwhelming.

However, living well doesn’t require a radical lifestyle transformation.

Drastic changes aren’t likely to be sustainable over the long term – your radical new routine will be a short-term fix, if it works at all.

Instead, if you’re looking to make changes in order to take more control over your health, there’s one thing all of those changes need to be: realistic!

Realistic goals are the perfect way to develop new habits that are actually sustainable.

Additionally, realistic goals will help foster a sense of achievement when you make these small changes, increasing the likelihood that you stick with your new routines.

Here are three realistic changes you can make to your daily routine that will have you feeling better and living well — no crazy diets or magic solutions required.

1. Get a little more active

Staying active can have a significant impact on your overall health and wellness.

However, staying active doesn’t need to be a giant time commitment – the recommended amount of weekly activity is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, which can be broken down into just 22 minutes a day.

The best part is that the 22 minutes of activity doesn’t need to be done all at once!

For example, 11 minutes of activity in the morning and 11 minutes in the evening can be just as beneficial as doing 22 minutes all at once.

When trying to get active, it’s important to be realistic about what you’re going to do: you don’t have to decide to run a marathon!

Find an activity that you enjoy, even if it’s something as simple as taking a walk in your neighborhood.

2. Watch what you eat

A woman holding a basket browses in front of a display of colorful apples and vegetables at a supermarket.

Like staying active, nutrition is key to overall health.

The foods we eat affect how we feel: for example, some foods can cause inflammation, leading to increased pain and fatigue.

If you frequently find yourself feeling ill, you may want to take a look at your diet and limit inflammation-causing foods like sugar, processed food, and red meat.

People find greatest success with dietary change when they eliminate a few unhealthy items at a time verses completely overhauling their diet all at once. 

Try to make small changes to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats (like chicken or fish).

Also, it’s OK to indulge from time to time. Everyone loves an occasional cookie! Just try not to overdo it – 2 to 3 bites are enough to saturate your taste buds.

3. Address your stress

This is one that’s always easier said than done: we’d all love to completely eliminate stress from our lives, but life will always present challenges.

Stress affects more than just your mental health – in response to stress, your body reacts by increasing cortisol levels.

This, in turn, increases blood pressure, lowers metabolism, and decreases immunity, putting you at increased risk for anxiety, depression, and illness.

We know we can’t live completely stress-free lives.

Instead, it’s important to develop tools to help deal with your body’s stress response.

Acceptance plays an important role: there will always be parts of your life that you can’t control, but you can control how you respond to those events.

By shifting your perspective, you can focus less on what happened and more on how you’re going to respond, reducing your level of stress.

Breathing can help relieve stress as well. By focusing on your breathing and taking slow, deep breaths, your body will relax.

Additionally, research shows that performing acts of kindness can help relieve stress. Your body responds to kind actions by releasing oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, decreasing stress and helping you feel better overall.


Wellness is a lifelong journey – you’re not going to completely overhaul your health all at once!

By focusing on small changes and setting reasonable goals for yourself, you’ll be able to make steady progress and will be on the road to living your healthiest (and happiest) life.

 

Kylee Eagles, DO sees patients at South Shore Medical Center Norwell.