Is this the year that you’re going to focus on your health and wellness?  (Hint, hint…it should be!!)  Being healthy doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated.  I’m going to share some of my favorite healthy tips and tricks to make 2014 your healthiest yet!

In the first installment of Simply Well with Stephanie, I’m sharing my top five secrets for a healthier and happier life and I promise – they are so simple!

1.  Drink more water

This is THE most important thing that you can do for your health.  And the best part is, it’s totally free.  What could be simpler than that?!  You want to aim for half your weight in ounces each day.  (So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink at least 70 ounces of water.)  Try not to drink out of plastic but don’t stress yourself out.  I use large wide-mouth Mason jars at home and work and a glass bottle on the go.  I divide my water into three rounds to make it easier and fool-proof.  I drink 24 ounces first thing in the morning.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200…go directly to your kitchen and drink a huge glass of water.  I drink another large jar of water at work and have another as soon as I get home.  Water improves your digestion, naturally hydrates your skin, gives you energy, helps with cravings, and makes you an overall happier person.  Yes, water makes you a happier person!

2.  Meditate for one minute daily

Meditation is really about breathing and being quiet for a moment.  When your alarm goes off, sit up in bed, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for one minute.  This will change the course of your day and invite calm into your life.  Ready for more?  Download a guided meditation album (my three favorites are from Gabby, Heather, and Terri) and listen as you are guided to deepen your breath and calm your mind.  Gabby is also gifting you three free guided meditations to help you grow your meditation practice in 2014!  Guided meditation not your thing?  Put on your favorite song, close your eyes, and breathe.  When thoughts pop into your head (and they will) refocus on your breath by repeating “inhale” and “exhale” or anything else that works for you.  I say “Sat” on my inhales and “Nam” on my exhales to quiet my thoughts.

3.  Eat more vegetables

Mothers across the world were right…you need to eat your vegetables!!  Vegetables are nutrition powerhouses and the star of the show.  I aim for veggies with every meal.  No joke.  I throw in an obscene amount of kale (or any dark leafy green that I have in the fridge) in my morning smoothie or scrambled eggs.  That way I know I’m starting my day with a massive dose of the good stuff!  Typically my plate is 1/2 – 3/4 vegetables with a small amount of lean protein and/or gluten-free grains.  My go-to veggies are sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, chard, brussels sprouts, squash, and broccoli.  You can roast a big batch on the weekend and have them ready for you during the week or quickly steam them for an easy weeknight meal.

4.  Make fitness fun

This one is huge!  Stop dreading your fitness routine.  If you hate running, stop running.  If you make fitness fun, you will actually do it. Tweet: When you make fitness fun it becomes a stress reliever instead of a stress inducer. Last year I discovered that I love yoga.  I can happily hit the yoga mat daily while I need to drag myself to the gym a few times a week.  Run around the park (or the living room) with your kids or dog, take a long walk with your partner on a Sunday morning, go dancing with the girls, jump around on an urban rebounder (wish list!), stretch on a yoga mat, or hit up a Pilates studio.  Just keep trying until you find what you love.

5.  Chew your food

Robyn Youkilis (my fab health coach) reminds me all the time that my stomach doesn’t have teeth.  If you don’t chew your food, your stomach can’t do it for you.  Do you often feel stuffed or in pain after a meal?  It’s likely that you aren’t chewing enough.  You want to chew each bite 20-30 times.  (I know, CRAZY!)  My average was probably 3-5 chews per bite before I started focusing on it.  This one isn’t as simple as drinking water when you first get started.  You need to remind yourself to chew.  Robyn suggests the you chew until liquid which I find much easier than counting each chew.  Take a smaller bite than usual, put your fork down, and chew until liquid.  If you forget, start again as soon as you remember.  Don’t stress about it.  Any improvement is something to celebrate.  Chewing your food will dramatically improve your digestion.  You’ll eat less.  You’ll walk away from the table feeling satisfied and not stuffed.

Let’s talk – share your thoughts with me!  What are your top {simple} tips?  Did you try some of my tips?  How did it go?