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4 Totally Realistic Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Health

Getting healthier isn't as hard as it sounds — here's where to start

Come Jan. 1, we know what we're supposed to do: get healthy. But what does that even mean? And why does it sound so intimidating?

For me, growing up in the '80s, the concept of "health" was inextricably linked to Slim Goodbody — the curly-haired, unitard-wearing man who sang about bodies on PBS. (I was such a fan my mother brought this wee health editor-to-be to see him perform live.) I understood health had to do with trying not to get sick, but even then, knew it was more than that. It involved eating well and exercise and other activities I was less than enthusiastic about.

Flash forward to 2017, and I'm now working full-time in the health journalism space, and I'm still grappling with the concept. Specifically, that knowing about health isn't enough — you have to take action too.

The problem is it's really hard to make meaningful, positive lifestyle changes and so easy to sit on the couch and eat. And unfortunately, reading new studies and ideas and writing about health every day doesn't mean I make the best choices. In fact, the more information that's out there, the more intimidating "getting healthy" can actually be.

Fortunately, I had a chance to visit Hilton Head Health, known locally as H3, in December, where I learned some helpful — and most important realistic — ways to improve my health. It sounds totally obvious, but one of the biggest takeaways from my experience came from the H3 director of education, Bob Wright, who stresses that health and wellness — whether weight loss is a goal or not — is not all or nothing.

For me, this was life-changing. In the past, anytime I had tried to take steps to improve my health, I'd go all in, radically changing my diet and attempting to work out several times a week. When I'd inevitably slip up, I'd immediately give up, assuming there was no way to get back on track. But, as Wright explains, that does not have to be the case. Instead, you can acknowledge what happened, not beat yourself up about it, and try again. And it's probably best to try smaller, more incremental lifestyle changes rather than altering everything at once; that will make it easier to keep up with it.

And that is just the beginning. Here are four small but significant things you can do right now that will help improve your health. The best part is, these are all totally doable, and you can start today. Even if it's just one minor tweak to your daily schedule, that's a step in the right direction.

1. Sleep more & on a regular schedule