Making the healthy lifestyle shift to eating better, getting more sleep or exercising is HARD. We had the pleasure of speaking with Jo Bartell 鈥 a registered dietician from Rise 鈥 to get an expert鈥檚 advice on聽making these changes stick, even for busy folks on a budget. She sat down and talked with us about everything from how to get started to tools for success to聽whether or not we really need those eight glasses of water a day.

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How to Get Started

According to Bartell, simply getting started with a healthy lifestyle shift can be the hardest part. But she said it鈥檚 best to break it down into three broad, yet equally important categories: eating well, working out and catching more Zzzzs. For a sustainable approach, making small changes in each category you鈥檙e looking to improve is the best way to go. It totally makes sense, right? We鈥檝e probably all had those times when we鈥檝e gone all out with a new exercise program and burned out (or got injured) early on in the process, putting a halt in our BIG plans. Bartell says it is important to take things one step at a time.

Bartell also recommends writing down your goals and scheduling appointments for everything from eating meals to a gym sesh and even your bedtime. Beyond getting things in writing, though, consider setting alarms or automated calendar reminders just like you would for important work-related activities.

Healthy Eating on the Go

We鈥檝e all had those times when hunger strikes and we鈥檙e caught without a healthy, homemade snack in our bag or desk drawer. Believe it or not, even healthier options can be found in a package. Bartell suggests that we get in the habit of reading nutritional labels at our local convenience store, opting out of those items high in sodium, fat or containing trans-fats. Also, if you (1) can鈥檛 pronounce an ingredient or (2) don鈥檛 know what it is, those are two indicators that the snack should stay on the shelf. Pretty easy rules to live by, right? Another great tip from Bartell that works especially well on road trips is to make your own DIY trail mix out of convenience-store goods 鈥 all you need is a small box of your fave cereal, roasted unsalted nuts and dried fruit. Those items that deliver a duo of fiber and some protein will provide a bit more staying power for your buck.

While those busy times are unavoidable, Bartell notes that planning ahead is always going to be your best bet. When you have a few hours free, getting veggies and lean protein prepped and throwing together a big batch of soup, will set you up for success throughout the week. For more on that, we鈥檇 definitely encourage you to check out this woman鈥檚 awesome advice.

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Strategies for Dining Out

Dining out on vacation, business meetings, dates or even when you just don鈥檛 have time to cook doesn鈥檛 have to derail your clean eating. For starters, Bartell cautions us against showing up super hungry, because doing so will up your odds of overeating or choosing something not so nutritious. Beyond that, if you know the restaurant ahead of time, take a peek at the menu and decide what you鈥檒l order in advance. (And if you鈥檙e working with a Rise nutritionist, you can even send them the menu for suggestions!)

As far as ordering goes, Bartell has some more great advice for us. She recommends starting your meal with a broth-based soup, salad or other non-fried veggie; you鈥檒l sneak in a nice dose of nutrients and fill up a bit before your entree arrives. As for your main course, consider ordering two appetizers 鈥 one veggie-based, the other centered on protein. They鈥檙e not only smaller, but will also give you a chance to try a few more flavors, staving off that taste-bud boredom. Also, don鈥檛 be afraid to be (politely) assertive by asking your server about ingredients (butter, sauce, cheese and dressing are often snuck in), and then requesting subs (like brown rice instead of white) or for the 鈥渆xtras鈥 to be served on the side. This聽three-pronged approach seems pretty manageable to us.

What About Water?

Though it sounds daunting, Bartell confirmed that the eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day still stands, and is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. Water not only plays an important role in flushing out toxins, but also helps to keep you sated 鈥 given how often thirst is mistaken for hunger, that totally makes sense. Buying a cute, fashionable water bottle that you can carry around with you can be a big help in achieving this goal.

To make H20 more fun (and drinkable), infuse a pitcher of the cold stuff with fruit or herbs to make your very own 鈥渟pa鈥 water. Also, sparkling water is another great choice, especially for those folks who crave the fizz of soda. Whatever you reach for, take a peek at the label. According to Bartell, generally anything sugar- (this includes artificial sweeteners), calorie- and caffeine-free is a great contender for meeting your daily quota.

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Other Budget-Friendly Tools

Even if you鈥檙e not ready to sign up for sessions with a nutritionist, Bartell stressed that getting an idea of where you are now with your habits is essential for making the right聽informed changes. Grab a notebook or keep tabs on your phone by jotting down your food consumption for three to seven days. After that, you鈥檒l get a better sense of when you鈥檙e hungry and why you鈥檙e eating. For a higher-tech approach, free websites or apps like My Fitness Pal and Lose It! can provide you with more precise, numbers-driven information.

If you鈥檙e looking to work one-on-one with a professional, Rise is definitely a terrific, affordable way to go. Your assigned registered dietitian will provide not just the individualized info and tools you need to be successful, but also accountability; all through a simple smartphone or tablet app. And the more info you bring to the table, the easier it will be to聽get your lifestyle shift kickstarted. Try聽Rise聽with promo code:聽BRITCO25聽for 25% off your first payment!

Are you trying to make lifestyle changes? What things have you found to be helpful in overcoming obstacles? Let鈥檚 talk below!