How To Transition To A Healthy Lifestyle Without Shocking Your System – Even If You’ve Been Sedentary For Years

By Donna Lakinger


Imagine standing at the bottom of a giant mountain looking up.


It goes so high you can’t even see the top.


Even though you can’t see it, you know it’s there, and you take your first step to climb it.


You don’t give up on the whole journey, just because you can’t see the end goal.


Transitioning to healthier lifestyle after years of being sedentary can be just as scary as looking up at that mountain. But it can be done!


(Probably easier than climbing a mountain too. ? )


It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where the heck to even start.


Don’t you worry!


With a few simple steps in place, you will be on your way. Speaking of steps, that is number 1.


Step #1: Try to walk a little bit more, every day.


Let’s say after 5 minutes you get winded.


Now we know the starting point.


Each day, try to increase that time, even just a little bit.


Maybe you can add a minute and go for 6 minutes.


Maybe 30 seconds is enough.


Figuring out where you want to start and how you want to increase is the first step.


Slowly build your walking time and before you know it, you could be doing 30-60 minutes a day!


Just remember, it’s one step at a time.


Step #2: Look at what you’re eating


So you’ve started walking to increase your activity, now what?


Take a look at what you are putting into your body.


A good place to start is with fruits and vegetables.


Try to get in at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable with each meal.


As you did with gradually increasing steps, do the same here.


Maybe you start with a banana with your breakfast. The next day you have broccoli with dinner. Then you add a side salad to your lunch.


Working towards the goal of at least 5 servings a day.


Everyday won’t be perfect, but you have the control to work those fruits and vegetables into your day in whichever way you can.


Step #3: Habit tracking is habit hacking


Lastly, taking a look at your habits and keeping track is the best way to be successful when changing your lifestyle.


It’s pretty easy to think back about the week and think you did pretty well.


It’s another to look back at your log and see you only ate one vegetable and walked two days.


By keeping track of your goals and progress, you take all the guesswork out of it.


You can do a journal for a little more detail such as writing how you felt that day.


You can take a calendar and if you got in your walk that day you put a big smiley face.


You can put 5 post-its on the wall and take one down each time you eat a fruit or vegetable.


Find a system that you LIKE, and you will want to continue with it.


Step #4: Be patient with yourself!


Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean doing everything at once in full force, or treating your body like it should respond to change the same way it did at 16.


The longer you’ve been sedentary, the easier it is to injure yourself when you start exercising again, so you want to start slow (that’s why we started with walking in Step #1 above).


Your body needs to practice moving again—it needs to stretch and circulate.


Think about it like a race car. If a car’s been sitting for a few years, it’s not ready for you to turn the key, ignite the engine, and then go win the race.


The car needs new gas, new oil, it needs a little TLC. Then you start taking it out slowly, seeing what it can do—you work up to taking it to the track and racing.


Our bodies are the same. To avoid injuring yourself, be patient, take your time, and implement new healthy habits into your life incrementally.


This will keep you from not only injuring your body, but it’ll keep you from shocking your life too.


Your calendar will stay roughly the same at first, with just some minor tweaks, and you can grow into scheduling your new healthy lifestyle as your body is ready for it.


Big shifts (especially with your health) don’t often lead to long-term successes. But it doesn’t have to be impossible to try and change your lifestyle for the healthier, no matter where you are starting from.


One step at a time and eventually, you will get to the top of that mountain!


Donna Lakinger is a health, wellness, and fitness coach who focuses on helping people get extreme results WITHOUT extreme measures. She believes in balance, not restriction. Donna has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and Bachelor’s Degree in Health Studies. To learn how to live a healthy balanced life without any crazy extremes, visit


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