Our picture of health is much more all-encompassing than the measurement of our waistline. It’s more than how fast we can run a mile or how effortlessly we can complete an Orange Theory class. Lots of factors affect how we feel living in the body we’ve been blessed with, and it’s important to remember that we can affect our health in more ways than just going to the gym. And in many cases, we can affect it profoundly.

These are a few things that have decreased my stress, made me feel more energized during the day, more able to sleep deeply at night, and even helped keep my skin clear and weight even. I can’t guarantee that every single one will have miraculous affects on your own health, but I’d put my money on the bet that it WILL have a positive impact.

1) Step away from dairy! Honestly, this is my number one. I had HORRIBLE acne as a teenager and still have occasional breakouts as an adult. I gave up dairy completely for about a year and never had clearer skin. Then, I came to France and picked up ice cream and whole milk cappuccinos and pasta with cheese… and my skin has been miserable. So now I’m getting back to dairy-free living, not even for my health, but for my vanity! HAHA! 😉 Just being honest here! The occasional bit of ice cream and cheese and everything else is totally fine, but I can’t make a habit of it, personally. My body rebels!

2) Eat one more serving of vegetables than you currently do, daily. I always ate veggies around dinner time, but when I make a point to include a bit of avocado or zucchini with breakfast or lunch, I always feel better. It might just be in my head but I’m pretty sure my body thanks me!

3) If you take an elevator at least once a day, replace one instance with using the stairs instead. We’re living on the 5th floor right now and I make a point to go up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator every time I’m empty handed. It’s good cardio and good for keeping the legs and booty toned as a bonus 😉

4) Drink more water! This is obvious but DEFINITELY high on my list. A couple years ago I was teaching hot yoga about 15x per week and was so dehydrated, I was getting sick every single month, my thyroid was out of whack, I had random heart palpitations, breakouts, super dry skin, and my hair was shedding like crazy. I didn’t know what was happening until my doctor suggested I drink more water. I started tracking my intake and never realized how little I actually drank in a day. Now I get at least 80-90 oz in a day and I have exactly zero of the symptoms I just listed. My thyroid bounced back to normal within weeks and everything else just sort of vanished.

5)  Take a probiotic. I prefer PB8 and I might just be insane, but I promise you— ever since I started taking one daily, I haven’t gotten a single cold or flu. And it’s been about 2 years.

6) Laugh daily. Laughter is built in to my day living with the Frenchman who is drop-dead hilarious, but finding humor in every day things is always easy. And usually while we work, I’ll put on a funny show in the background. Laughter is just the best medicine.IMG_5854

7) Stop trolling Facebook in idle time. It’s bad for your mental health and is nothing but a distraction. Instead, bookmark your favorite blogs that either make you laugh or inspire you and realize that you don’t need to stalk social media just because you’re afraid of missing out on something trivial.

8) Cut your sugar intake by half. I know it’s super difficult to give up altogether, so start by cutting back. I was in the habit of eating ice cream every single day when I first got to France, and I knew I was setting myself up for failure by trying to quit cold turkey. So instead of my nightly ice cream, I got a couple small truffles from my favorite patisserie (they were a little bigger than a quarter). It was cheaper and packed WAYYY less sugar than 2 huge scoops of ice cream. And it still hit the spot 😉

9) Take lots of work breaks. Walk around often, preferably outside. If you can’t get up and walk around every 30 minutes, don’t worry. At least get up and stand at your desk and shake out your legs for a minute and go to a window. Since we’re working, we don’t often attribute being sedentary to ourselves because it’s not like we’re doing NOTHING. But to our bodies, we’re doing exactly nothing when we sit at work all day. So MOVE!

10) Indulge your hobbies. Have you ever dropped something you really loved doing just because you thought it wasn’t worthwhile? Maybe it was drawing or dancing or just sitting on the couch with your dog without being on your phone. It’s the thing that simultaneously energizes you and relaxes you. Pick it back up and stick with it this time.

Over to you: What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself? Have you ever changed a habit that caused a cascade of other good things?