From little things, big things grow.

Here’s a hard truth: healthy living doesn’t happen overnight. For something to become second-nature, it first needs to become a habit. And how do we cultivate good habits? Actively practising them day-to-day.

Unfortunately, you’re not going to wake up one morning with the mindset of Michelle Bridges or Kayla Itsines (believe me, I’ve tried). Healthy living is a step-by-step process that’s all about challenging your vices and encouraging new and better ones to take their place. One way to break those bad habits is to weave little nutrition and fitness wins into your week to help foster a mindset geared towards healthy living – like taking the stairs, or swapping out bad food groups.

Not sure where to start? We’ve mapped out your week of healthy-little-extras to help you on your journey to wellness.

Monday: Write out a meal plan

healthy living

If you’re someone who is easily side-tracked, writing out a meal plan can be the key to making the right food choices throughout the week. If you’re like me (someone who finds happiness in ticking off any sort of to-do list) just creating the schedule will leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished the biggest feat of human achievement since Steven Bradbury won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

I’d suggest having the Australian recommended dietary intake and standard serves documents open in your browser to make informed nutritional choices for the week ahead. You’ll need different amounts according to your level of activity each day too, so make sure to schedule in a few treats for your exercise-heavy days.

Tuesday: Get off the bus a couple of stops early and walk

healthy living

This also applies to those of you who catch the train and drive a car. Disembark the station before your usual stop, park a few streets away – just get those legs doing what they were designed to to. It’s not just a time for fitness either, you can:

  • Pop in your headphones, find the La La Land soundtrack on spotify and recreate one of the impromptu dance scenes
  • Stop and smell the flowers. Or at least the Lush soap shop
  • Run errands (like stopping in to finally book that check-up at Lifecare Dental)
  • Muse over your many season 7 Game Of Thrones plot predictions. Lyanna Mormont on the Iron Throne? Plausible. Ice zombie dragon? Definitely happening.

Wednesday: Sneak Vegetables Into Your Comfort Foods

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not sold on restrictive, calorie counting diets. I wholeheartedly believe that a truly healthy diet is one that includes a range of foods from every nutritional group. Deciding what to eat should never be a preoccupation or obsession, but it should be mindful.

Mindful eating centres around consuming food on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, and not emotional ones, like eating because your bored. No food group is off-limits but it’s important to consider what your body needs. So when you body says ‘I need something sweet’ don’t shut off the signal, just switch your thinking.

Addicted to banana bread? Try Jamie Oliver’s superfood protein loaf with just 213 calories per slice. Want something sweet after dinner? This frozen yogurt layer cake will satisfy your sweet tooth without sending you into a spiral of guilt. Need something substantial to get you through a grueling day at work? Two words: healthy. pancakes.

Thursday: Try a completely new workout

healthy living

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. I completely understand if this quote your eyes rolling back into your skull. I get that it sounds like it should be superimposed over a picture of a sunset and sold as tacky office inspirational poster. But it is true.

If your level of enthusiasm for your current fitness and exercise regime is bordering on nonexistent it’s time to shake it up. Pick a class that you’ve never tried out before and commit. It could be as unimposing as a yoga class at Goodlife Health Club or as outlandish as roller hockey.

Don’t have enough time to get to the gym? That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at all. While it sounds slightly ridiculous ‘deskercises’ are simple little exercises you can do at your desk to sneak fitness into your work day. Decide to take the stairs at the office rather than the elevator, try some seated stapler curls or just go for a bit of a wander on your tea break.

Friday: Cook at home instead of going out

Also brilliant if you’re trying to save a bit of money because numerous outings for dumplings, pizza and burgers impact your bank balance as much as your waistline. If you’re like me, any recipe that is over 30 minutes in prep and cooking time is usually a no-go, so lock out some time on Friday night to cook something you’ve always wanted to try. I recommend the following: