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Five Days of Change
By Hannah Murphy, July 15, 2020.
While I try to listen to my body and maintain healthy habits as much as possible, I am no stranger to grabbing popcorn and candy at the movies with a soda on the side. I really wanted to try a week of introducing new healthy habits into my life to see if it changed how I felt day to day. So, I decided to make a change. For a week, I introduced new healthy habits into my routine to see its impact on my physical and mental state. I am, by no means, a nutritionist or a health guru, but I am actively invested in keeping myself as healthy as possible in each aspect of my life, with, obvious exceptions, to each of these habits. The plan: to add a new habit every day. I would add a new habit while still continuing the one from the day before, until I was practicing all five by the end of the week- I changed different aspects of my day to day life, whether it be what I eat or drink, when I exercise, my sleeping schedule, and things that I just normally don’t monitor, but decided to do so to determine if these new habits affected how I felt
Monday (Day 1)
The healthy habit I started on day one was to only drink water, excluding any other drinks for the entire week. Cutting out the morning coffee or afternoon iced tea was definitely tough for me, and it took a few hours to train my brain to reach for the water bottle instead of the Diet Coke can. Over the progression of the week, I noticed I was getting far less headaches and that all the water I was consuming was clearing up my skin each day. I thought I would feel drained and sluggish from cutting out the caffeine, but drinking water all day not only kept me feeling comfortable, but kept me alert. I used to crave the fizzle of a cold soda, but the feeling of drinking a tall glass of water with ice was so refreshing.
Tuesday (Day 2)
Earlier Bed Time
On Tuesday, I decided to start going to bed earlier. Most of us, myself included, often stay up to watch one more episode of a Netflix special, or spend hours promising ourselves, “Okay just one more Youtube video” until it winds up being 3 in the morning. I am no stranger to this- so I made a vow to start going to sleep at 11:00pm each night. This was a hard adjustment, but- at 10:45 I put my phone on do not disturb, shut down every distraction and got into bed. At first, it was hard going to bed for a time that I deemed as early, but as the week went on, I found myself having much more energy during the day and was able to be more productive by getting those few extra hours of sleep. Even though I would wake up earlier than I normally would with a bed time that often ended up being the wee hours of the morning, I found I was able to be super motivated during the day and then started looking forward to my earlier bed time, with a tall glass of water next to me as I dozed off.
Wednesday (Day 3)
Now, day 3- was probably the hardest and least excited I was to change a habit. I can’t believe I am saying these words…. BUT for the sake of seeing changing effects in how I felt day to day...I went gluten free. I’m not going to lie, I was absolutely dreading this. What I did to prepare for this albeit daunting task, was quick google search of “gluten free foods that taste good”. This is where I became more hopeful - I found recipes of meals that sounded good to me and headed to the grocery store. I ate gluten free for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Planning ahead also proved difficult, but honestly, it was worth it. I found a new found love for cooking for myself, and also found some really good recipes that made me feel better and lighter each day. While I am a sucker for a large bowl of pasta with a mountain of cheese on top of it, I was able to make GF pasta tasty. I know, I never thought I’d say those words either.
Thursday (Day 4)
Exercise in the Morning
Day four was something I have been wanting to try for a while, but never got around to it. In the past, I wouldn’t really have a set time for when I wanted to exercise, so I would just do it at random times each day. I was really curious to see how I would feel if I exercised in the morning, shortly after I woke up and ate my GLUTEN FREE breakfast. I was worried I would feel exhausted and unable to focus on my tasks for the rest of the day after the workout, but it was quite the opposite. I felt more prepared and ready to tackle the day’s tasks. I was so focused and level headed after working out that when sitting down to do work for the rest of the day, my attention span lasted way longer than ever before. By going to bed earlier, waking up earlier, only drinking water, and eliminating gluten from my diet, I was able to have the energy to exercise in the morning while still having an extremely constructive day.
Friday (Day 5)
Three Meals A Day
My last habit was something that just came naturally along with all of the other practices that I started on Monday. Because I was going to sleep earlier, I was waking up earlier. Since I was waking up at an earlier hour, I was able to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Usually I would just eat lunch and dinner. As a result of eating three full meals a day, I was snacking less. By snacking less, I didn’t even realize I was cutting out the unhealthy handful of chips or cookies I would almost always grab when I wasn’t eating three meals a day. This habit helped me to stay sharp and keen all day long, helped me have more of a schedule and also coincided with every single habit previously stated. I would plan dinner around my new bed time, and breakfast around my new exercise schedule. By being more scheduled, I felt more proactive and found that even if I had a boatload of work to complete, I was able to tackle each task with full speed ahead.
After adjusting something each day for five days while keeping the one from the day previous day, my biggest take away would be that by changing healthy habits in your life, there is a domino effect of reactions that you see throughout how your body feels. I have never felt so on top of things as I did after this week, and each habit aided to that in its own way. While I may not stay gluten free forever, (which is completely fine either way!!) I am very pleased knowing that there are routines I can pick up when I know I want my body to feel a certain way. I can rely on particular practices that are so easy to add in to my every day life. These five days really helped me be my best version of myself, and I love the healthy habits I made myself aware of over the course of the week. Every body is different and reacts differently to changes, so do whatever you are comfortable with and enjoy bringing healthy habits into your life!