What does it mean to be healthy? It’s very easy these days to feel like a slouch unless you spend 3 hours a day at yoga and eat kale exclusively. But reality is not an Instagram photo. Reality is a busy schedule, an affinity for unhealthy foods, and a laser focus on doing what it takes to pay the bills.

At Maxine’s Heavenly we talk a lot about Chief Health Officers. CHOs are people who make time for health in their lives (or help their family make time for it), but through a realistic lens. Doing healthy things each day doesn’t have to look a certain way, and can in fact be relatively easy.

Here are seven things you can do this week to make the shift towards a healthier lifestyle.

1. Read Labels

Instead of grabbing your favorite items off the shelf in a hurry, take the time to read the label. See what’s inside and make a decision about whether it’s something you want to fuel yourself with or not.

It may be helpful to know that ingredient panels are listed in order of the heaviest ingredient to the lightest. So something that is listed as kale, tomato, sugar is going to be a vastly different product that one listed as sugar, tomato, kale.

2. Go for Walks/Move

If you have the time, go for a walk first thing in the morning or in the evening after dinner. You don’t have to go a certain distance or walk quickly. Just get outside, breath the fresh air, and move a little bit. If you can, go without headphones. Just enjoy your thoughts or the company of your walking partner.

Or if you really only have a minute, make sure to move a bit. Especially if you work in a sedentary job. I led a movement exercise at a company I used to work for as an excuse to take ten minutes away from my desk and move my weary bones. I would invite coworkers to join me and they LOVED it. You can make it what you want, but I spent about 4 minutes doing stretches, 4 minutes doing something slightly more aerobic, and then 2 minutes stretching again and cooling down.

Download this 10 minute workout.

3. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Simple, right? Health isn’t all about the things you do for your body right now. The health of the planet is very important, and the little things we do today matter for our tomorrow. So think twice about what you acquire (“Do I really need this?”), reuse what you can, and recycle when you can’t.

4. Express Gratitude or Pray

If you’re into praying, send one up now. Just take one minute to share what you’re grateful for, and ask for help where you need it.

If you’re not into praying, take a moment to thank someone for helping you or recognize them for a job well done. It may sound hippy dippy, but sending good vibes out into the world – especially when done regularly over a long period of time – can really change your disposition.

5. Send a piece of snail mail

Think about the last time you got a piece of mail that wasn’t a bill, a fundraising pitch, or even something friendly but expected (a generic baby announcement, perhaps). I bet it was a long time ago.

There’s something really nice about getting a piece of mail with some real thoughts written down in real handwriting and sent through the United Postal Service. It says that you care. So think about someone you love or someone that could use a pick me up and send them a letter or card.

6. Help someone out

Get away from yourself for a minute and help someone out. It can be a one time thing or something you do regularly, but there are a million ways to help people. Write a letter of recommendation for an intern, spend a Saturday cleaning up a park, tutor young students, walk dogs at the local shelter, spearhead a fundraising campaign for a cause you care about…the possibilities are endless.

Choose something that you will enjoy and that will genuinely help.

7. Be mindful not to complain

Remember when I was talking about good vibes earlier? You really do yourself a disservice when you talk negatively all the time. It’s very easy to complain. It’s much harder to catch yourself in the act and change your tune.

I challenge you to try making an effort to not complain for one week. I think you’ll be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

All it takes to be a Chief Health Officer is to declare yourself one and try. Pick one of these things, all seven, or create your own and try being a CHO this week.

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