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Small changes, big impact

Making realistic health adjustments

In the quest for better health, the journey of a thousand miles does begin with just a single step. And the smallest changes can lead to the most significant health benefits over time. I learned this when training as a naturopath: that we can see up to 80% of results through basic lifestyle changes. The key is to make small, manageable, and sustainable adjustments, rather than attempting drastic transformations that might be difficult to maintain. Here are several practical strategies to help you make small but impactful changes to your lifestyle.

1. Start with your diet

Improving your diet doesn't have to mean a complete overhaul. Simple, incremental changes can make a substantial difference:

 - Incorporate more vegetables: Start by adding one extra serving of vegetables to your meals each day. Whether it’s a handful of spinach in your morning smoothie or some extra veggies in your pasta sauce, every little bit adds up.

- Switch to whole grains: Replace white bread, pasta, and rice with whole grain alternatives. Start by mixing half and half, gradually increasing the proportion of whole grains.

- Hydrate wisely: Replace one sugary or caffeinated drink a day with water or herbal tea. Over time, increase the number of replacements.

2. Increase physical activity gradually

If the idea of exercising for hours each week seems daunting, start smaller:

 - Take five-minute walking breaks: Every hour or so, stand up and walk around for a few minutes. Whether it's a short stroll around your home or office, it counts.

- Use the stairs: Opt for stairs over lifts whenever possible. Even a few flights a day can improve your cardiovascular health.

- Schedule mini workouts: If a 30-minute workout seems too much, break it down into 10-minute segments. Three times a day, engage in quick workouts that increase your heart rate, or a simple stretching routine.

3. Modify your sleeping habits

Good sleep is crucial for health, yet it's often neglected. Small adjustments can lead to better quality rest:

 - Establish a routine: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Start by adjusting your bedtime in 15-minute increments toward your target.

- Create a restful environment: Begin by eliminating one source of disturbance, like dimming the lights or using aromatic diffusers an hour before bedtime.

- Limit screen time: Start by turning off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Gradually increase this time as you get used to the routine.

4. Stress management techniques

We all have stress, but learning to manage it is essential for overall well-being. Small steps can help you cope better:

 - Practice deep breathing: Introduce 5 minutes of deep breathing into your daily routine, gradually increasing the time as you feel more comfortable.

- Schedule 'Me' time: Block out a short period each week to do something you enjoy, whether reading, taking a bath, or walking in nature.

- Learn to say no: Start by turning down one unnecessary obligation per week to reduce stress and manage your workload.

5. Positive social interactions

Social connections positively influence our mental health and resilience:

 - Reach out regularly: Make a point to contact a friend or family member weekly. Start with a text or call and gradually include more in-person interactions.

- Join a group or club: Find a group that shares one of your interests. Attending one meeting or event can be the first step toward building a new community.

6. Going within

Part of living a good life includes spiritual health and meaning, so spend some time looking inward.

- Meditation: Luckily these days we don't have to just stare at a wall to meditate. Instead there are numerous apps to guide you through meditation practice. You can take as little as five minutes, and do it while waiting for school pickup. Pro tip: no one will know you have your eyes closed if you have your sunglasses on!

- Journalling: Starting with a short amount of time journalling can benefit you either by way of a brain dump, getting perspective or helping you find meaning in your life.


Making a significant impact on your health doesn’t necessarily require drastic changes. Small, practical steps can be far more sustainable and lead to lasting health benefits. By setting realistic goals and gradually building on them, you can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being in a way that feels manageable and achievable. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. 

As a naturopath I love to help clients make positive changes. Sometimes that's by providing a fresh set of eyes to suggest which areas might make the most impact for you individually based on your circumstances and health concerns. Some folks do better with the accountability that regular appointments provide. Others get a lot just from the process of going through a really detailed health history as part of our initial appointment. I also find in clients who are already making a lot of healthy lifestyle choices, then accessing functional testing can really be impactful in what to change next for better health.