The Wellness Lifestyle: 10 Small Changes With a Big Impact

ten health changes that make a big difference

Many readers ask me to define my ideal Wellness Lifestyle. I find that it’s easier to start by explaining what it isn’t.

What is the Wellness Lifestyle Not?

If you want to make truly lasting health changes, they have to be a complete lifestyle change, not just a diet. Diets rely on willpower and have a depravation mentality, which sets many people up for failure. The Wellness Lifestyle isn’t about a temporary diet to lose weight or simply accomplish a aesthetic goal (though it may help with that) but a true lifestyle change focused on nourishing and strengthening your body from the inside out.

My particular recommendations are also not specifically the Paleo diet either. Certainly, I agree with many of the aspects of the Paleo Diet and think that many people benefit from it. I have tremendous respect for many Paleo bloggers and authors. I’ve arrived at this way of eating and living because the science backs it up and I’ve seen the benefit in my own life, not because distant ancestors may have eaten this way.

As I said, I agree with almost all aspects of the Paleo diet and think that many people in the Paleo movement are helping many people, I just don’t follow all tenants of it 100% and haven’t arrived at my conclusions on an ancestral basis, so I don’t use the term. My “Wellness Lifestyle” incorporates many of the aspects of Paleo/Primal/WAPF lifestyle and I think there are many valuable resources in all of these areas.

Healthy Eating

It all starts with food- what you put into your body on a daily basis is the single most important thing you can do for your health.

1. Eat More Nutrient Dense Foods

Obviously, if a person wants to be healthier, he or she must eat healthier foods, but there are so many opinions of what healthier foods are! Rather than thinking of foods as “bad” and trying to avoid them, focus on the nourishing and healthy aspects of real foods and focus on trying to incorporate more of them.

For instance, I recommend removing grains/sugar and consuming more healthy fats. Instead of focusing on not consuming the pizza, donuts, chips, sandwiches (or whatever your favorites are), start by just trying to add more healthy foods into your diet. Strive to add more vegetables and healthy fats and focus on the nourishing aspect of food, rather than just the pleasurable one.

There are no neutral foods, they are either helping or harming the body, so choose foods that help.

If you are overweight, have autoimmune issues or other struggles, a more strict version may be helpful for a short time. Consider removing grains, sugar, dairy, nightshades (tomato, pepper, eggplant, etc.), eggs, and nuts for 30 days and then reintroducing slowly to gauge your reaction.

2. Drink More Water

If you are reading this, chances are you have unlimited access to clean, drinkable water, yet many of use don’t drink enough of it. I’ve actually heard people say that they haven’t consumed any plain water in months or years and drink soda or diet soda instead (and my kidneys ache thinking about it).

Start the day with a glass of water or herbal tea and drink a quart or so of water between meals. For those who don’t regularly drink enough water, this change alone may improve sleep and energy levels and get rid of headaches.

3. Supplement Wisely

There are thousands of supplement options out there and just as many opinions on which ones you should take. For the most part, it is best to get your vitamins and minerals from foods, though this isn’t always possible with our depleted soil and food quality. At times, it is necessary to supplement certain nutrients to improve absorption of the foods you are eating.

Here’s a list of some basic supplements that I take and those I give to my children. These vary if I’m  pregnant/nursing or trying to accomplish a specific goal like tooth remineralization or skin protection from the sun.

Healthy Living

After the food we put in our bodies, lifestyle factors play a huge part in overall health.

4. Get Some Sleep

This is the one piece of health advice that it seems everyone can agree on. From vegans to paleo, WAPF to SAD, people seem to agree across the board that sleep is important and that missing too much of it too often can hurt your health. I’m also yet to see anyone advertise the health benefits of skipping sleep.

So we know it’s important, but statistically we still aren’t getting enough sleep (*ahem*).

Here are some factors that may help you improve sleep quality, and this article addresses foods, supplements, and environmental factors that affect sleep. Many people notice improved sleep from increasing their Magnesium levels, as Magnesium is important for regulating all hormones, including sleep hormones.

5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Stress also has a dramatic impact on the body as it disrupts normal hormone production and can affect everything from blood sugar levels to sleep quality. This can lead to a cascade of hormone and health problems, and reversing them isn’t always as easy as doing some deep breathing or learning to meditate.

Often, a comprehensive plan of diet, lifestyle changes, and supporting supplements is needed until the body heals.

6. Improve Oral Health

Oral health affects the health of the whole body and much as 65% of us have the beginnings of gum disease. There are many blood vessels and nerves that run from the mouth to other parts of the body so infection in the mouth can contribute to problems other places in the body.

Certain supplements and lifestyle changes will support oral health, and natural, homemade products can help remineralize teeth. I like making my own remineralizing tooth powder or homemade tooth paste. Personally, I’ve managed to reverse a cavity and heal a tooth using the above diet protocol and homemade tooth products.

7. Exercise Wisely

Exercise is definitely important, but physique and body shape are made in the kitchen, not the gym. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet without the health issues eventually catching up with you and exercise isn’t an excuse to eat junk food (even for post-workout “carbs”).

While cardio type exercise is generally encouraged for weight loss, it turns out that other exercises like weights and high intensity, are better for weight loss, muscle growth and physique improvements (and they don’t make women “bulky” in case you were worried!!) In fact, some of the most effective forms of exercise can easily be done at home with very minimal equipment.

8. Clean Without Toxins

Household cleaners and detergents are a major source of chemical exposure for many people, and this can be a tremendous problem, especially with small kids. By making your own cleaners, you can avoid the chemicals and save a lot of money. I’m a huge fan of microfiber, since no cleaners are needed at all, but if you don’t want to use microfiber, here are some recipes for natural cleaners and organic living ideas.

9. Make Your Own Beauty Products

Beauty products and toiletries are another major source of chemical exposure for many people. There are healthy, homemade alternatives to almost every product, and they usually work better and are much cheaper too! Here are some of my favorites.

10. Spend Some Time in the Sun

Contrary to conventional wisdom, all sun exposure is not harmful. In fact, despite high use of sunscreen, skin cancer rates continue to rise and most cases of melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) are in places that are not regularly exposed to the sun.

When a person is in the sun without sunscreen, the body naturally makes Vitamin D, which is protective against many other types of cancers, and even a low SPF sunscreen can prevent this. Instead of slathering on the sunscreen, perhaps we should improve our sun tolerance by eating healthy foods and  get sun exposure wisely. There are certain foods and supplements that can work as an internal sunscreen to discourage burning and promote Vitamin D production.

Which of these are you already doing well? Which need more work? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. I’ve read a lot of diet things in the past, but this seems Doable. I think I can manage this–at least for 60 days…Have you read the Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson? A lot of what you talk about is echoed there. I’ve been seeing more and more lifestyle changes like this–so it’s time for me to try it! 🙂

    • I’ve read Mark’s books also…. a lot of good info in them too! Best of luck with your 60 days, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  2. I love your blog! Thanks so much for all this great advice.

  3. It was also proven that grains today have been genetically modified to contain up to 3 x the amount of gluten than 100 years back.  This amount of gluten is just so unhealthy!  Is it okay to eat fat from meat like lamb and beef in moderation?

    • absolutely! We even use tallow (beef) to cook!

  4. I just jumped on the wagon. I know you are just about to redo your blog. Quick question “I love bread” if no grains are allowed what do I do about bread? Make my own? With which ingredients? Almond flour?…..

    • There are almond flour recipes, coconut flour recipes (though they are better for biscuits) and some combinations of the two that involve flax meal too. Search for “paleo” breads and you’ll find some grain free options. I’ll also be posting some soon 🙂

  5. what about water? Filtered, spring? reverse osmosis’s? alkaline water? or city tap water? Which is best? What do you suggest?

  6. I’m ready to start, any tips on how to work with a super picky 9 year old who lives on peanut butter & jelly and refuses to eat vegetables? The only fruits he eats is are apples & pears. He also has been diagnosed as ADHD, which I believe may really be from poor nutrition. Help please!

    • I to have a very picky 8yr old who wants eggos and cheese it’s all day. I started making my own salad dressings from the recipes on wellness mama and adding those with celery and cucumber t o his lunch. I also make “panwiches” (I know, what we’ll say to get them to eat) which are sandwiches with coconut flour pancakes for the bread and almond butter/puréed strawberries. I put the strawberries between the almond butter and the “bread” doesn’t get soggy.

  7. I am SO thankful for your website and how consistent you are in what I teach in my practice. I am a nurse practitioner and 2 days a week, I do solely nutritional counseling for those with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc. We have started to recommend your website on a daily basis here in TN! 🙂 Thank you!

    • Thanks so much! So glad to hear there are medical professionals recommending nutritional therapies! Thanks for reading and for recommending 🙂

  8. So I wanted to let you know I did your 60 day challenge 5 months ago and have stuck with this lifestyle. I have gone from 288lbs down to 226lbs! I still have a ways to go but I want to thank you for all you do. It has really helped me turn my life around!

  9. I love these suggestions. I am wondering if this lifestyle can work for vegetarians? I am opposed to eating animals for ethical reasons. I do eat eggs and dairy (but I don’t think dairy is good for us, really). It seems like cutting grains would be easier for people eating meat, but without meat, its hard to feel satisfied without grains. I also live in Peru, the land of potato and corn. Nuts and coconut oil are very expensive here so I simply cannot afford them as a large part of my diet. People eat lots of fruits, veggies, corn, and potatoes…along with chicken and eggs. There are very low rates of obesity. We live in the Andes and all the uphill hiking each day, the cold temperatures with no indoor heat, and the altitude makes you crave carbs and we don’t really gain weight eating them in excessive quantities. That said, I am not sure its healthy even if we don’t have trouble maintaining our weight.

  10. Hi Wellness Mama, I would be very interested in trying this way of living as I am absolutely wanting to achieve optimal health for my family. I’m just a little concerned by the low-carb and no grain element. I have been blessed with a fast metabolism and I find that if I miss carbs even in one meal, I run very low on energy and can’t function properly. Added to this I am currently breast feeding and needing to eat even more. I love my meat, fish, dairy, fruit and veggies but I find they don’t fill me up and keep me going without a portion of potato, rice, pasta etc. what can you suggest as an alternative?

    • Try adding more fats and dsrker vegetables in. I have the same problem you do with a fast metabolism, and I’ve found that eggs, olive oil, avacados and vegetables like spinach and broccoli help me feel significantly fuller. A couple of my friends have also noticed this, it might be worth a shot for you:)

      • Hi just want to thank you for this
        this may help me too
        coz I’m the same
        I never knew maybe it’s coz I have a fast metabolism (I knew I had it ) but I always blamed it on greed I don’t have that but is till feel guilty when I eat
        it’s good to know I can stop blaming myself for eating
        but thank you
        I do believe that broccoli usually does fill me and I’m starting to buy those so will try them before turning to the potatoes for help 😉 x

        • Lol I did mean those things you listed Not the broccoli I already buy those lol
          I mean Avacado etc and will be eating oils without cooking them
          so will see how I feel with them before turning to my potato needs 😉

  11. I’m wondering what type of sweetener you recommend. Ive been using a lot of stevia/xylitol/truvia over the past year. I have an blood clotting antibody that causes miscarriage but was able to have my 6 th child with the help of baby aspirin and heparin. I had 4 mc in between #5 and #6. I recently miscarried again on all my meds. I’ve read conflicting info on stevia. Recently, I read it can cause implantation issues for women that already have those tendencies. I’m pondering quitting stevia and switching to coconut sugar since it seems to have less impact than regular sugar on blood sugar levels. What are your thoughts?

  12. What about fruits? Can I have them and if so what are best for losing weight?

  13. Please tell us about fruits. I make smoothies in the morning with Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, flax seeds and a little juice and find them making me feel better overall in the morning. Thoughts?

  14. since when chocolate is consider as good food and grains not?

  15. I’m in. I’m looking forward to taking on this 60 day challenge.

  16. Thank you so much for all that you share. Your website is such an inspiration, and truly keeps me motivated. Whenever I feel I am deviating from a healthy lifestyle, I reread much of the material from this site and it positively influences my state of mind. I am genuinely grateful to have found the WellnessMama website; what a treasure!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you Katie!

    • Thank you so much, and thanks for reading!

  17. I’m 5’8″, 146lbs. My question is, with this eating lifestyle, can I still workout? Lift weights? I want to gain weight for muscle, not lose it.

    Will I require slightly more vegetable intake, an extra meal..?

    I enjoy a 20 minute exercise before an intense 10-15 minute workout, followed by a 10 minute exercise to cool my body down. Will this require and extra meal? I really want to eat healthy, I’m going to start doing so once I finish the foods in my house. I also want to gain muscle too.

    Sorry for the essay 🙂 Thank you for any responses! That includes others who workout on this diet, if you have opinions or stories please share, thank you.

  18. Awesome!Thank you for sharing this great idea. It inspires me to go for healthy wellness lifestyle than pushing myself on hard diet to get fit!

  19. I’m a 24 year old stay at home mom… after reading some of your posts about nutrition I am trying to figure out what goals would be good to have… Sounds like a goal of 100g of carbs or less, 80g of protein, and the rest in fats? If I put that in my nutrition tracker that would be a diet of just over 50% fats.. 100g.
    Does this seem like an appropriate goal?

  20. I believe that I suffer from yeast overgrowth in my body. I have had symptoms for years and it’s only getting worse. Rashy, itchy abdomen, constipation, sugar cravings, brain fog and dizziness, eye floaters, you name it, I’ve got it. Anxiety and depression are getting out if hand. I’m tired of worrying about this but overwhelmed on how to begin healing. I’ve read lots but there seems to be so many options but I want to heal naturally and any help I can get, I will take it. If you can help me get started on this new health journey with support and knowledge, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m going to be 35 soon and I don’t want to waste any more time feeling so crappy.

  21. Can you suggest me some options for the some juices which I can have but don’t gain weight ??

  22. Hey there, just wanted to share that your posts are always a great inspiration for ways to make living healthy accessible and not intimidating. I have tuned into your posts over the years, stating at a time when I had little knowledge of natural approaches, and while I have become much more familiar with such ways, what you post always has something insightful to teach.
    Thanks for all you share!