How to tweak your life: 7 easy fixes to set you up for success

By Lavanya

Jun 17, 20245 mins read

How to tweak your life: 7 easy fixes to set you up for success

What if you give us 7 days? 7 days to turn your life around. Sounds like a scam? Or utterly ridiculous nonsense? 


Let me break it down. You know how often we go "come Monday, I will be on my new diet!" Or "from Jan 1, I am going to completely rehaul my life." Or even, "I start my new regime from the first of next month and then, watch out world!" 


Been there, done that, right? 


The problem with this scenario is that we give that elusive start date too much importance. 


Instead of deciding to start effecting changes where we might be going off the charts, we make it another day's problem. Many times, this also brings in the added baggage of "I am starting my diet, so no more fun stuff. Let me go to town on the pizza/burgers/baked goods now!" Familiar scene?


What if we can help you start making changes to your routine - simple things, really - but together, they will leave you in a different place. An easy way to adopt a new routine. A good way to start and end your day. 


As an added bonus, you can start it right where you are! Ready?


Rules of the game


The first step is easy. Just pick a day, any day. Even the one you are on right now - that's the best way to start! And start with the first one. Every day, add a new one to the plan. So, by day 8, you should have adopted 7 new habits. And you will be a brand new person! Hello world! 


No, you won't! But these 7 small lifestyle changes will hopefully get the ball rolling, and help you get started. Without waiting for some magical unicorn to come and fire the starter gun. 


1. Eat before you go food shopping


This is the most easiest "hack" I can think of that people somehow do not adopt. It is easy to see why this is very rarely adopted - we club our activities together and save the toughest one, ie, shopping for groceries and other bulky items, for last. By then, our energy levels might have tanked, our long-ago meal might have digested and we are on the road to hangry. This is when we make unwise food choices. 


This applies for not just food shopping but also any kind of outing. When we step out of the house well-fed and hydrated, we are in a much better space to make good choices. Even if you are going out for a meal, pre-game it. Have a protein shake or something similar before stepping out. Not only are you not going to face plant in the worst food choices, you will be less upset if your favourite item is not available. Simply because of this one tiny fix!


2. Drink water when you first feel hunger pangs


How

More and more, we are finding it hard to even feel hunger. With the limitless availability of food around us, we are forever dipping into some food or the other. Grazing, non-stop, like gazelles. Unlike gazelles, we do not get to run like the wind across the land for miles so all that food just sits in us, waiting to be burnt for energy. 


Seriously though, when was the last time you felt true hunger pangs? Chances are, your body's thirst signals are being mis-interpreted as hunger. So do this small fix. When you think you hear your stomach is growling, take a good sip of the water. Most of the time, that will be the end of it. 


If your stomach gets more insistent, the growls are loud enough to wake your dog, then go and get some food.


3. Drink water throughout the day and finish all but 1 glass of it by 7 pm


Do you remember reading that humans need 8 glasses of water daily? That comes to 2L. But this isn't written in stone. If you are in the tropics, in a 42 degrees C plus heatwave, you need a lot more than 2 litres per day. Our brains are predominantly water and by not drinking enough, we cause untold harm to our bodies and brains. 


So, keep a bottle of water next to you at all times - the market is flooded with the colourful ones with markings on them to cheer you as you drink your day's worh of H2O. Get yourself one or two in bright colours and get going. But here's our top tip - keep this steady fluid intake throughout the day but taper it by 7 pm. 


After that drink a glass with your dinner and keep a glass of water by your bedside but no more. This will ensure your kidneys are not sloshing around, waking you up at 2.30 am to take a peebreak mid-snooze. 


4. Dump all your whirling thoughts onto a diary before bed for undisturbed sleep


How

This tip comes highly reccomended by Coach AA. Many of us go through our days at such a rapid clip, that when we lie down to sleep, our thoughts are still in a whirl. Our minds don't calm down so easy and we lie awake late, even when we know we need to be up with the larks. 


Or we go to bed on time but wake up at 3.00 AM and cannot fall back asleep after. We lie awake, watching the dawn break and go through our day in a sleep daze and a mild headache.  


Sound familiar? Try Coach AA's suggestion: get a nice notebook and keep that and a pen handy on your bedside table. Every night before you hit the sack, write down whatever is bothering you about that day, what is lying in store for the next, what is bothering you. Put down in words everything that is keeping you awake: worry over your children's future, what will you do if the AC and fridge both conk out during the heatwave, the ankle pain from Saturday's game you are trying to ignore, the promotion that might not go your way.... list them all dowon on paper. Even your to-do list! 


And forget about them. You never have to open those pages and read them again. But the mere fact that they are not clanging around in your mind might be all that is needed to give you a good night's rest. 


5. Get some kind of movement in as soon as you wake


We all go to bed with the best of intentions. "I shall wake up in the morning and go for a run!" Or "I have missed too many classes this week but no more. Come what may, I am doing the 5 AM class tomorrow!" 


Morning comes, you take a peek at your phont to see the time. Forty-five minutes later, you are cackling over your social media feed and with a 9 AM meeting, it is already too late to run or workout.  But tomottow...! 


Try this instead: roll out of bed, do some stretches - it could just be touching your toes a few times. Doesn't matter. Just wake your body. And then - walk out the door and get a quick walk in. It could be a short walk or a long run. Do not overthink it. Do not overcomplicate it. Get up, get out and move. Establish this new morning routine. Wake up and get some natural light. The light exposure will kick off your circadian rhythm and the fresh air will help rid of the mental cobwebs. 


If you don't like to walk or run in the morning (let's face it, who can bear to, in this heat?) you can choose other movement protocols. Do surya namaskaram for time or for repitiions. Lift some weights. Do zumba or a quick Pilates session. Whichever form it takes, make it a point to get some movement in as soon as you wake up. It is when we wake up and look into the bottomless gadget at hand that our best laid plans go awry. So don't. You can walk without an app to track your step count. Revolutionary, I know! 


6. Banish digital devices from your bedside


This next one is slightly related to the previous point. One main factor in the aforesaid best laid plans getting scuppered is the fact that we don't get enough sleep.  A TV to watch the cricket or news while tucked up in bed, a tablet to read your favourite books even when the room is dark and a smartphone to rule them all. We have so many electronic gadgets in our rooms, by our bed, that it is a miracle we are getting any kind of quality sleep!


All of these are messing with your sleep cycle. Don't get into sleep debt. The blue light shining onto your face is so not your friend. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is a big game changer. So the first thing to do is ban any and all electronic devices from your bedroom and reduce screen time. Establish a non-techie sleep routine. Help reset your body clock and restore the natural circadian rhythm.


Practice good sleep hygiene habits and get a good night's sleep! 


7.  Kill your snooze button


Now, we have all fallen foul of this one too many times. "Just five more minutes!" is not just the battlecry of the young. That's what we do every time we hit the snooze button. My daughter tried to counter this by having multiple alarms, spaced every 5 minutes! This only resulted in a grumpy start to her day. Pecked into waking by the incessant sound of multiple alarms or disrupting your sleep by repeatedly hitting on a snooze button is not a great way to welcome a new day.


Instead, do this: your wake-up time is fixed, thanks to the morning's demands. Count backwards by 7.5 (or 8, if that is possible) and hit the sheets then. Build some extra time to this to allow for the time you need to actually nod off. And then, when the alarm goes off in the morning, get up straight away! Kill the snooze button. it feeds a myth that it is extending your sleep. Instead the repeated waking up and frantic attemps to go back to sleep only mess with your sleep-wake cycle. 


Just do not fall prey to the enticing snooze button. 


So there you have it. 7 simple tweaks to your current routine. And if you do one tweak per day over the course of the week, by the time the next week rolls around, you will have a brand new routine to set you up for the rest of the day. Your mental health will show marked improvement. Eventually you will not only be able to get some deep sleep on a regular basis, but you will also rejig your body's internal clock! 


Set yourself up for a really good day, an amazing day even!