How to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Doable Tips & Expert Advice

© Photo by Graceland Fruit

Munson Healthcare Community Health Coordinator Tara Rybicki, MS, says small, healthy lifestyle changes quickly add up and are key to meeting your goals.

There’s a well-known quote by teacher and author Eckhart Tolle, “If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.” And it’s a quote Tara Rybicki stands by. As the Community Health Coordinator for Munson Healthcare in Traverse City and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Tara knows a thing or two about being healthy. Focusing on the “inside” is something she recommends to everyone.

By making these four lifestyle changes, Tara says you can get your inside healthy in no time.

Change #1: What You Eat

“Deeply nourish your body by finding whole foods that you love,” Tara says. “Each time you eat is an opportunity to show your body love.”

From fruits and vegetables to healthy oils and dairy products, here are Tara’s food tips:

  • Fruits– Include fresh, dried or frozen options each and every day.
  • Vegetables– Include these nutrient and fiber-rich foods with lunch and dinner to add bulk to the meal without the calories.
  • Beans– Eat beans weekly to gain the potential benefits offered, such as weight management and heart health.
  • Nuts and seeds– Include a handful for a powerful nutrient punch.
  • Whole grains– Look for whole-grain on the ingredients list and fiber on the nutrition facts panel of items including bread, pasta, cereal and crackers.
  • Heart-healthy oils– Olive and avocado oil are great sources of healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • Milk and yogurt– Include milk (cow or plant-based) and yogurt daily.
  • Plenty of water– Water helps the body with many functions, including nutrient absorption.

Change #2: Incorporate Enjoyable Movement

“Make body movement a sustainable lifestyle by finding activities that you love,” Tara says.

If you like the social aspect of exercise, consider group classes. Pilates, Zumba and yoga are popular group exercise classes. On the other hand, there are plenty of solo activities you can do as well. If you’re not a runner, try swimming, kickboxing or weight training. There are also plenty of enjoyable movement activities you can do by yourself or with others—cycling, kayaking, walking and hiking—just to name a few.

Non-Traditional (And Fun!) Movement Alternatives

While there are many traditional ways to get exercise—running, hiking, biking and group exercise classes—sometimes it’s fun to think outside the box and get creative with movement. Here are a handful of non-traditional, healthy activites across Northern Michigan.

Change #3: Mindfulness While Eating

Tara recommends “listening to your body and learning your signs for hunger and early fullness, then responding to these cues” while eating. How do you do this? Tara proposes you practice mindfulness next time you’re eating a meal. First Tara suggests using your senses (sight, touch, smell and taste) to appreciate the food. Then, pause in the middle of eating to check the level of your hunger. “If your body still feels hungry, then eat more. If you are comfortable stop,” she says. This will help you “practice recognizing when your body begins to feel comfortable.”

Change #4: Plan for Well-Being

Another tip Tara has for being healthier is to create a personal plan for well-being. She recommends considering these questions while you make a plan:

  • What does well-being mean to me?
  • What are my current barriers to reaching my wellness vision?
  • Where would I like to be in three months? (For example, center your response in relation to mental, emotional, physical or spiritual well-being.)
  • What behaviors will I change to move toward well-being?
  • What changes will I need to make in a typical day to move toward well-being?

“Set a time frame to reassess your plan—for example 1 month—and if you were successful, plan for a non-food reward, such as a massage,” Tara says. “If your plan didn’t quite work for you, reassess to see what would work better.”


Written by Courtney Jerome