Simple Tweaks for a Healthier Life

I was talking to some of my AnneTheRD nutrition counseling clients the other day about how living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean broad, sweeping changes or depriving yourself of things you like. It just means making a series of simple tweaks, then making some more, until they become habit. Breaking it up into small, actionable changes like this not only makes living healthier a lot more manageable, but it also makes the changes more sustainable, because you’re not trying to change too much at once, getting overwhelmed, and giving up.

simple tweaks for a healthier life

In light of this, I thought it would be interesting to share a post with some simple tweaks for a healthier life – some from me, and some from fellow bloggers and dietitians. I’ve broken the tips into fitness, food, and general healthy living-related. Pick one or two to try, then, once you’ve consistently implemented them, pick a couple more, and so forth. Maybe not all of them work for you – and that’s okay. Try, try again – find what does work for you, and make it a sustainable change. Then, make another!

Healthy Eating Tips


Tips from me:

  • Make your own salad dressing! Store-bought dressings are usually way less tasty, more expensive, and full of sugar and weird additives. My favorite dressing is a simple mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and lemon juice!
  • Make half your plate veggies at both lunch and dinner. The volume goes a long way with keeping you more satisfied!
  • Eat as you are starting to get hungry – don’t wait until you are starved! Being hangry not only adds way more stress to the situation than there needs to be, but it also means you’re more likely to overeat. Do yourself a favor and fuel up!
  • Having a sandwich? Pile on the veggies. I like adding baby spinach, broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, sprouts, etc!
  • Switch to whole milk and cinnamon in your coffee instead of processed and weird additive-filled sweetened creamers. The whole milk will add flavor and creaminess, and the cinnamon will add sweetness and flavor without needing sugar!


Tips from fellow bloggers and dietitians:

Prep a healthy breakfast the night before. It makes starting the day off on the right foot so easy! – Tina Haupert, blogger at Carrots ‘n’ Cake

Store zip-top bags full of all your favorite smoothie ingredients in the freezer and in the morning, just add your liquid of choice and blend. Fruit, nuts, yogurt, chia seeds, avocado, spices, protein powder and greens are all freeze-able! – Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE, private practice dietitian and blogger at Avocado A Day Nutrition

Cut up your fruit for packed lunches. I find that if I pack whole apples, oranges, etc., they’ll go uneaten at my desk because I don’t want to make a mess peeling or eating them. If I cut them up beforehand, they’re more appealing. – Mary Lambkin, blogger at Minutes Per Mile


Throw whatever you’re eating (eggs, a veggie burger, stir-fry, soup, anything!) on top of a big handful of baby arugula, baby kale, or spinach. It looks like a garnish, but packs a hefty dose of nutrients and is a mindless way to add more veggies to your day. – Rachel Meltzer Warren, MS, RDN, author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian and blogger at (Note from Anne: this is one of my favorite tips, too!)

Make your own grab-and-go snacks by filling re-sealable bags with individual portions of your favorite snacks like nuts, popcorn, roasted chickpeas, and dried fruit. – Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, nutrition consultant and food blogger at Nutritioulicious

Use our “Red, Green and Orange Rule” to include one red, green, or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal. When you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget! – Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, co-authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure and bloggers at


Grill a bunch of chicken breasts or make a batch of pulled pork in the crockpot on Sunday. Throughout the week, use the meat to create a variety of different dinners so you don’t get bored. Use it to top your salad one night, make quesadillas the next and use the rest in a big pot of soup later in the week! – Lindsay Livingston, RD, blogger at The Lean Green Bean

I like to enjoy a refreshing cocktail (or two!) in the summer months, but I don’t enjoy all the sugar that usually accompanies an alcoholic beverage. To healthify one of my favorite drinks, the Moscow Mule, I use ginger kombucha in place of sugar-laden ginger beer. Kombucha is much lower in sugar and has the added health benefit of probiotics. I simply mix plain vodka (1-2 oz.), ginger kombucha (6-8 oz), and juice from 1/2 freshly squeezed lime — garnished with a couple of lime slices. – Hillary Parker, Certified Health Coach and blogger at Nutrition Nut on the Run

Fitness Tips


Tips from me:

  • Find a workout buddy! Having someone to meet makes working out a lot more fun – and is a simple way to hold yourself accountable, too.
  • Spend at least 20 minutes each day enjoying some fresh air. Walking and taking in nature does wonders for the soul as well as the body.

Tips from fellow bloggers and dietitians:

Put out your workout (or running) clothes for the next day, or pack your gym bag. Prep yourself to workout just like meal prep! – Monica Olivas, blogger at Run Eat Repeat.

Plan out your workouts ahead of time to hold yourself accountable and accommodate your busy schedule. A few years ago I bought a cheap dry-erase weekly calendar from Amazon, which now hangs on my refrigerator. Every Sunday I schedule my workouts for the upcoming week, and I draw an empty box under the workout so I can check it off when it’s done. If it doesn’t get checked it drives me crazy all week! This helps me stick to my workouts and evaluate when I’m doing too much of one exercise and need to switch things up or take a break. – Chelsea Clark, blogger at Chelsea Eats Treats

Make your workouts count. Instead of cruising through your usual routine, think of ways to add additional challenge. It will keep your body guessing, which will promote results, and also prevent boredom. Some of my favorite ways to up the intensity: lift heavier weights (even if it’s just a 2-lb increase, try one set at a heavier weight), add cardio blasts in between strength sets (30 seconds of jumping lunges, jump squats, a 0.25 mile run, a 250 meter row, or 10 burpees), or finish off your workout with some bonus cardio intervals (5-10 minutes alternating between 30 seconds of hard work and 30 seconds of recovery). – Gina Harney, personal trainer and blogger at The Fitnessista

Set an alarm to GO to sleep so that you can wake up in time for an early workout. – Theodora Blanchfield, blogger at Preppy Runner

Switch to morning workouts! I used to work out before dinner, but all too often plans would get in the way and my workout would fall to the wayside. By working out before the sun comes up, it’s much easier to stick to a regular routine. Nothing ever seems to pop up on my calendar before 6 a.m., so my workouts have become much more consistent. – Julie Fagan, personal trainer and blogger at Peanut Butter Fingers


Sign up in advance for group exercise classes at your favorite studios. The dreaded cancellation fees keep me from bailing last minute – and also help my clients get up in the morning! – Sarah Dussault, personal trainer and blogger at

If you do aerobic exercise daily, improve your level of fitness by swapping out 2 days for resistance/strength training instead. – Diane Boyd, MBA, RD, LDN, health and fitness blogger at Cape Fear Nutrition

Do. Yoga. Once a week, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It’s a simple add that makes a big difference in multiple ways. – Heather Caplan, RD, blogger at Dietitian on the Run (Related note from Anne –> Take Back Your Life, One Hour at a Timeloved this article)


Healthy Lifestyle/General Tips

Tips from me:

  • If you’re driving somewhere, park as far away as time allows to get in some extra steps that day. Similarly, if it’s a nice day, get off the bus or metro a stop early if you can and walk the rest of the way.
  • Turn off all the pop up notifications on your phone (aka email, social media, etc.)
  • Always take the stairs instead of the using the elevator – and walk up escalators!


  • Squeeze in a short afternoon walk break from work on nice weather days. In addition to a little extra exercise, you’ll also have the added benefit of feeling mentally refreshed, too!
  • Create a standing up desk at work – the easiest way is to simply throw your laptop (or desktop and keyboard) on top of a box. Aim to stand for an hour each day; once you’re used to that, increase it to two hours, and so forth.
  • Take meetings and conference calls (that don’t require your computer or taking lots of notes) while walking instead of sitting.

Tips from fellow bloggers and dietitians:

Something I’ve implemented in the past month after far too many restless nights dreaming about my to-do list is a “screen-less 20 minutes before bed” routine. Reading or just talking instead of staring at a screen (and all the social media distractions on it) can really help turn your brain off before bed for a more peaceful night’s sleep. – Gina Matsoukas, blogger at Running to the Kitchen

Brush your teeth right after lunch and dinner! I can’t tell you how often I just want to eat a sweet just to have something change the way my mouth tastes. – Kath Younger, RD, blogger at Kath Eats Real Food.

Never sacrifice sleep for a workout. If you haven’t gotten 7-8 hours of sleep- skip the workout. Do it later in the day or take the day off. When you don’t enough sleep, exercise actually become a non-productive stressor and detrimental instead of beneficial to your health. – Robyn Coale, RD, blogger at The Real Life RD


What are your best simple tweaks for living a healthier life?


  1. 1

    Let’s see…off the top of my head: I make a large batch of steel cut oats in my rice cooker then divide them into containers for 4 days so I have breakfast ready to go, shop at Costco to stock up on ALL THE GREENS for my smoothies, work out in the morning so there is less of a chance for me to skip it later in the day, have plenty of fruits and veggies on hand for when hunger strikes, try to walk whenever I can (I live in the city now).

    It’s amazing what a little forethought can do in creating healthier habits. Thanks for sharing!

    • 2

      Great idea to make steel cut oats in your rice cooker! I keep meaning to make steel cut oats and then forget until it’s morning and I’m already hungry… :)

  2. 3

    Ahh cute kitty! These tips are great! I love the one of slicing up fruit snacks. So simple but something I never thought to do. When I bring a whole apple to work I tend not to eat it. I’m going to try slicing and see if that helps. 😀

  3. 4
    Sandra F. says:

    So many great ideas! I like the tip to set your alarm to GO to sleep. So many times I end up staying up later than I wanted. One tip I have for those who want to get up super early to workout: go to bed in your workout clothes! My cousin does this and I thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, I just can’t get up before 6 :( So I workout after work.

  4. 5
    Catherine Cormier says:

    Great tips! I follow many of these now but there were several ideas in there that I hadn’t thought of and will start implementing in my routine.

    My biggest thing is to prepare everything in advance – breakfast waiting for me, have my early morning workout planned, lunch & snacks packed for work and knowing what I’m making for supper. Having everything planned out helps me stress less and not skip workouts or eat out/make unhealthy food choices.

  5. 6

    This is great!! I too, love the advice to set your alarm to go to sleep. AND the coffee recs (cinnamon, yes please!)

    Thanks for sharing, so helpful!

  6. 7

    Great tips! I like how you included sleep and reducing technology in this post. My tips would be echoing a lot of what has been shared here about preparing meals in advance (or bulk meat prep in advance) to save time and give you options throughout the week.

  7. 8

    I also find that making small changes are more sustainable for me than making huge ones. Having a plan for meals makes it easier for me to make healthier decisions as well.

  8. 9

    A great list!!

  9. 10

    Anne, I love this!! Thanks so much!
    It took me a bit of thinking, but here’s what I’ve come up with, esp in the fast few months:

    -if you’re exercise isnt working for you, try a new routine. switch the time, and schedule it in. plan to stick with it for 2 weeks, but 1 week for sure. then you’ll start getting into the routing (i did this with morning workouts, so much better!)

    -snack/meal prep! chop veggies. buy fruit. cook extra for dinner or make a big bath of bars. it makes snacking healthily SO much better!! even just a *bit*

    – put food away when you’re done eating :) (<<still working on this some nights :) )

  10. 11

    These are such great tips. Love the tip about getting 7-8 hrs of sleep or else you don’t get to work out. We exercisers like to push ourselves but sleep is the most important thing for a healthy body and mind. My tip is to surround yourself with people who support your healthy lifestyle and encourage you to stay on your path.

  11. 13

    Such a great list of tips! Staying hydrated is always a struggle for me and my clients. I’ve had people set alarms and label water bottles with times, but my best advice is always to invest in a cute water bottle with a straw! Like camelbak or contigo. That straw makes me drink so much more than if I had to guzzle water all day long!

  12. 15
    Megan K says:

    Anne – thank you for this post! It came at a perfect time for me because I am normally super active but just tore my ACL skiing last week :( Such a bummer! No high impact workouts for me for a while. BUT, this most definitely reminded me of other healthy things I can do for myself in the meantime. Thanks again!

  13. 17

    Set realistic expectations and work with your own schedule! Once I had my little one, it got that much harder to prep healthy lunches and snacks for the work week, something I ALWAYS used to do – I had lots of food go to waste waiting to be prepared as I was learning this lesson. Now, I make sure to include a couple of “bigger” dinners spread throughout the week so I have lots of leftovers for lunch (crock pot / one pot meals are easy and always make a ton), and I’ve simplified my snacks to grab and go – cheese and fruit, veggies and hummus, trail mix, etc. It’s made my morning routine SO much easier, and I’m less tempted to take the easy route and grab take out for lunch.

  14. 19

    Yes, I agree, with the standing up at work. I have been doing that for some time. It can be hard to keep my concentration going, but it is worth it to do for a bit. I have never thought about brushing teeth so that I can fight sweet cravings. That is a great idea.

  15. 20

    I loved this so much! Thank you for such awesome ideas, suggestions, etc! Very motivating :)

  16. 21

    Thank you for sharing these tips, Anne! I especially love your fitness tips. Out to do yoga now!

  17. 22

    Great post! I’m loving all the tips that at have been shared here. My biggest tip would be to measure your food. This sounds like a huge pain, but it’s easy to get used to and is the best way to ensure you aren’t overdoing it on anything.

  18. 23

    I love the red, green, and orange rule!

  19. 24

    Thanks for posting this awesome and useful tips. You have showed the simplest way to follow the tips. Adding “Red,Green and Orange Rule” is my favorite. I am not fond of fruits and whenever I think to eat it, I just keep this rule in my mind and eat it. And I will surely use stairs from now. Keep Updating !!

  20. 25

    Great suggestions! I’ve been very into overnight oats recently, which takes about 5 minutes to make the night before so I can eat right after my morning workout!


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