Live Better Now: How to Feel Healthier In 30 Days Or Less
In a world of “get thin quick” pills and fad diets, many people want to lose weight or be healthier at the drop of a hat. While there are no overnight fixes, there are plenty of daily habits you can adopt that will have you feeling healthier in 30 days or less.
While you’ll get the most benefits if you build on each of these habits every day, incorporating just a handful of these tips into your daily routine will have you looking and feeling better by the end of the month. However, simply doing one thing for one day won’t change your life—actions have to be repeated to become habits that move you toward your health goals.
30 Ways to Look and Feel Better in 30 Days
1. Drink Enough Water
Apart from its life-giving status, being well-hydrated also contributes to how you feel in several ways:
- Improves Energy and Mental Focus. Water makes up 75% of our brains, helping to maintain focus, energy, and mental clarity. Being dehydrated by just 2% is linked to reduced cognition, including impaired memory, attention, and psychomotor skills.
- Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight. Many people confuse hunger and thirst, leading some to eat more unhealthy food if they are dehydrated. Research shows that mild but chronic dehydration is linked to increased body weight.
- Improves Digestion. Water helps facilitate bowel movements, as dehydration is a common cause of constipation. Water is also needed for the production of saliva and stomach acid, which helps digest food.
While there are differing opinions about how much water to drink in a day, a good guideline to go by is using your body weight. Divide your body weight (in pounds) by two, and that would be the ideal amount of ounces of water to drink daily. For example, a 160-pound person should aim for 80 ounces of water. However, if you exercise often or live in a hot and humid area, you might need more water.
2. Sleep Smart
Sleeping too much and too little are bad for health—and both can affect both how you feel today and how healthy you are in the future. Most adults require 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep per night. Start sleeping better tonight by keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, having a caffeine cut-off time in the afternoon, and avoiding large meals and alcohol in the hours before bed. Over time, maintaining bedtime and wake times within the same hour each day (even on weekends) can also help to support overall sleep quality.
3. Get Morning Sunlight
Getting natural light in your eyes within an hour of waking up tells your body to stop producing melatonin, helping to fight fatigue and improve your sleep that night. Morning light (even on cloudy days) can also help to improve your mood and energy levels. Try it out today by going outside within a half hour of waking up and not wearing sunglasses for 15-30 minutes.
Meditation is a recently trending yet ancient practice that focuses on breathing, mindfulness, and awareness. In the short term, meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase attention span. But it also has long-lasting health benefits, including reducing the risk of mood disorders, lowering blood pressure, supporting cardiovascular and cognitive health, and even slowing cellular aging and telomere shortening. If you’re new to meditating, download a free app or search for a 5-10 minute meditation to practice any time of day.
5. Practice Gratitude
Adding in a gratitude practice takes less than a minute but can have outstanding benefits. By writing down, saying out loud, or simply acknowledging in your head 3-5 (or more) people, places, or things that you are grateful for each day, you improve your mood, stress resilience, self-esteem, empathy, and compassion. Gratitude also benefits physical health, as it has been shown to improve sleep, lead to healthier eating habits, and even lower blood pressure.
6. Stay Active Every Day
You don’t have to run a half-marathon or sign up for a HIIT class every day, but you should be moving your body in some way. We all know that exercise is important for health—and even walking for 10 minutes per day can help you to feel better.
If you’re already a regular walker, adding in higher-intensity aerobic and strength training can build muscle mass, improve mood, energy, and sleep, and support longevity, as exercise can slow down aging on the cellular level. Starting today, aim for 30-60 minutes of activity at the level you’re comfortable with.
7. Focus on Flexibility
Many people lose flexibility with age—but you don’t have to. Better flexibility can increase blood flow, reduce the risk of injuries, improve posture, and reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Plus, it feels good to stretch! Consider foam rolling, stretching on the floor, or doing gentle yoga moves.
8. Wear Face SPF
No matter your age or skin color, you need to be wearing SPF on your face every day. Sunscreen reduces the signs of skin aging (like wrinkles, sun spots, fine lines, and leathery skin) and lowers the risk of developing skin-related disorders. Even if it’s not sunny, cloudy days can still damage the skin—and so can blue light exposure, like from our screens.
9. Eat At Home
It’s no secret that most restaurant or fast food meals are less healthy than the foods we eat at home. Even if you eat a seemingly similar meal out, it likely has more calories than a home-cooked version, as restaurants tend to add more oils (commonly seed oils), butter, or salt than you would in your own kitchen. Try to eat the majority of your meals at home this month and see how much better you feel.
10. Limit Processed Foods
However, eating at home won’t make you healthier if you’re solely heating up freezer meals or making boxed mac-and-cheese. While not all processed food is bad (for example, canned beans, pre-cut veggies, and boxed quinoa are all processed), attempting to focus on making meals that come from whole ingredients is best.
11. Eat More Greens
Leafy greens, including arugula, spinach, kale, beet greens, microgreens, collard greens, and Swiss chard, are low in calories and loaded with beneficial antioxidants and fiber that support overall health. Eating more of these veggies supports cognitive function, heart health, immunity, gut health, skin health, longevity, and even stress relief.
12. Add In Berries
Many fruits in the berry family contain high levels of fiber and anthocyanins, including blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Anthocyanins are flavonoid compounds that provide berries (and many other fruits and vegetables) with their deep blue, purple, or red pigments and function as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, supporting cognition, cardiovascular health, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
13. Focus On Fiber
Fiber is a crucial macronutrient for overall health and longevity. In the short term, eating the right amount of fiber (25 grams per day or more for women and 35 grams per day or more for men) can support healthy digestion and bowel movements. Over time, healthy fiber consumption leads to healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular function, healthy body weight, and lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Today, add fiber-rich foods like berries, apples, beans, lentils, cauliflower, chia seeds, and avocados.
14. Up Your Omega-3s
Consuming omega-3 fatty acids is linked to improved health outcomes, longevity, and healthier inflammatory and stress responses. The best sources of omega-3s are fatty fish like sardines, salmon, and mackerel, but you can also eat plant-based sources like flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.
15. Add In Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to fight oxidative stress—a buildup of harmful compounds called reactive oxygen species that contribute to accelerated aging and disease development. From alpha-carotene to zeaxanthin, plant-based compounds called polyphenols act as antioxidants and fight oxidative stress in the body to protect DNA, slow aging, and improve health.
Some antioxidants and the foods they’re found in include resveratrol (red grapes and wine), curcumin (turmeric), quercetin (apples and onions), anthocyanins (berries), sulforaphane (broccoli), ellagic acid (berries and pomegranate) and catechins (green tea and cocoa). Antioxidant supplements like trans-resveratrol, spermidine, pterostilbene, fisetin, green tea extract (EGCG), and hydroxytyrosol can also help to bridge the gap.
16. Prioritize Protein
Not eating enough protein can make you feel sluggish and low energy. Although true protein deficiencies are rare in the United States, older adults tend to eat less protein with age and require more daily protein than younger adults, which can contribute to lean muscle mass breakdown and poor health outcomes. Ensure you’re eating protein-rich foods every day, like eggs, fish, poultry, beef, whey, or beans.
Although the ideal RDA varies depending on which doctor or researcher you ask, many agree that 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (g/kg) is too low—especially for older adults. Most of the recommendations fall in the 1.2-1.6 g/kg range, suggesting that increasing protein intake by up to two-thirds or double is warranted.
17. Focus on Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kimchi are known to benefit digestive health—but they also support cognitive, metabolic, and cardiovascular health and possibly even extend lifespan. Many fermented foods contain plentiful nutrients, phytochemicals, bioactive compounds, and healthy microbes that provide anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory functions. Plus, it’s well-known that fermented foods benefit our gut bacteria—and a healthy gut microbiome is linked to healthier aging and longevity.
18. Spice Up Your Meals
Not only do they add flavor, but herbs and spices also pack an antioxidant punch and benefit health in several ways. Herbs and spices are loaded with health-supporting compounds, like curcumin in turmeric, carnosic acid in rosemary, allicin in garlic, and gingerol in ginger. Due to these compounds, herbs and spices can help you live longer by fighting oxidative stress and supporting healthier inflammatory responses. Try adding ginger, garlic, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, red peppers, or basil to your dishes today.
19. Moderate—or Eliminate—Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is a toxin—there’s no getting around that fact. And most people inherently know that drinking alcohol does not make them feel good. Moderating or completely eliminating your alcohol consumption this month can make you feel—and look—significantly better. Not only does eliminating or reducing alcohol improve sleep and mood, but it can also improve cellular health.
Alcohol accelerates biological aging, especially when consumed chronically and in excess. Research shows that drinking 29 units of alcohol per week (about ten glasses of wine) accelerated telomere shortening at a rate equivalent to up to three years of aging. Moderate alcohol consumption is one drink per day for women and two for men—but in this case, less is definitely better.
20. Boost Your NAD+ Levels
NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a compound known as a coenzyme, meaning it helps other enzymes function correctly. This vital molecule is needed by virtually every cell in our bodies, aiding hundreds of processes ranging from brain cell growth to repairing DNA to assisting mitochondrial function.
NAD+ plays a critical role in maintaining cellular and metabolic functions, which translates to better energy and health of our cells, organs, and bodies as a whole. Although NAD+ levels are known to decline as we grow older, you can support your NAD+ levels by adding NAD+ precursors like NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) or NR (nicotinamide riboside).
21. Learn Something New
Learning something new can help to reduce stress and improve mood, confidence, and self-esteem. New skills or knowledge can also support cognitive function by physically rewiring our brains and increasing neuroplasticity—the brain's ability to change and adapt due to our experiences. Whether you read a new book, listen to an educational podcast, or take a course, learning something new can help you feel better both mentally and physically.
22. Walk After Meals
Many people experience blood sugar dysregulation—especially after eating a meal high in carbohydrates or sugar. Going for a 10-15 minute walk after meals can help to reduce blood sugar, support digestion, and help with weight loss.
23. Limit Screens
In the past decade or so, we’ve all become increasingly dependent on our screens—we have little ones in our pockets all day, medium-sized ones we stare at all day for work, and the big ones we zone out in front of at night. But it’s no secret that excess screen time isn’t good for our health. Today, start limiting your screen time by keeping your phone in another room, taking frequent breaks during the workday to read a physical book or go outside, and tapering down your TV time at night by going to bed earlier instead.
24. Consciously Consume Caffeine
Caffeine is not necessarily a bad thing—but many of us are too reliant on it. While coffee and tea are important sources of antioxidants in the American diet, drinking too much caffeine can significantly disrupt sleep, energy, and mood. Caffeine has an average half-life of six hours, meaning that half of the caffeine from a latte you drank at 4 p.m. will still be in your system by 10 p.m. A caffeine cut-off of around 1-2 p.m. can help you sleep better that night, ensuring you feel more energized the next day—and therefore more likely to eat better and exercise.
25. Do a Sugar Audit
Even if you don’t think you’re eating a lot of sugar, the sweet stuff can add up sneakily into our diets. From coffee creamer and flavored yogurt to pasta sauce and salad dressing, many commonly consumed foods have added sugar. Today, look at the nutrition labels of all the foods and drinks you consume, tallying up your total added sugar intake. Aim for 25-30 grams of added sugar or less per day.
26. Deliberate Cold Exposure
Cold therapy—like cold showers or cold plunges—can boost energy, support healthier inflammatory responses, improve muscle recovery and sleep quality, and may even help reduce body fat. As cold exposure is not pleasant for most people, start off slow, with a minute or two at a time. Just 11 minutes of cold exposure per week has been found to increase healthy brown fat levels, which can boost core body metabolism and support a healthy weight.
27. Floss Every Night
Flossing isn’t just vital for dental hygiene—it’s also linked to better cardiovascular and cognitive health. Flossing is also an important micro-habit—like making the bed—that can help you build momentum with other habits. In just a minute or two per day, maintaining a solid flossing habit can increase the confidence and self-efficacy that you can manage other, larger habits.
28. Be Social
It’s now well-known that having a tight-knit community is a strong predictor of future health and longevity. Being lonely can accelerate aging by 1.65 years, and fostering a strong sense of community through family, friends, neighbors, or social groups can significantly boost both mood and health. If you don’t have anyone close to you right now, try joining a club, connecting with old friends, talking to a neighbor more often, or taking up a non-solo hobby.
29. Declutter Your Space
Clutter isn’t just about how your space looks—a home or room with too much clutter can significantly impact our mood and even productivity. Studies show that decluttering reduces stress and anxiety, improves productivity and focus, and benefits our relationships. Today, aim to declutter at least one room or area that stands out.
30. Know Your Purpose
Last but certainly not least, having a sense of purpose in the world not only helps you to feel more satisfied with your life but also is linked to longer lifespans. The “Blue Zones”—areas around the world that are home to the longest-lived people—place a high value on leading a purposeful life. The Okinawans of Japan call it “ikigai,” while the Nicoyans of Costa Rica use the phrase “plan de vida,” both of which roughly translate to “the reason why I wake up in the morning.”
Research backs up the longevity-related benefits of having a strong sense of purpose. In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Japanese men and women who had strong “ikigai” had a 15% and 7% reduced risk of mortality, respectively, after 12 years of follow-up.
Dozens of factors play a role in how healthy we are, from diet and exercise to sleep and social habits. Even if you haven’t been focusing on your health until now, it’s never too late—and if you add in these habits one day at a time over the next month, you’ll be feeling healthier before you know it.