When I was in college, one of my best friends lost an incredible 40 pounds in 6 months. To say I was proud of her would be the understatement of the year. She was someone who never loved the way she looked, but instead of constantly complaining about it, she decided to do something about it. We went from me having to drag her to workouts to her whipping my butt into shape a time or two.

I remember everyone flooding her with questions on how she was able to lose the weight and what advice she had for those that wanted to do the same. Her answer was simple: eat healthily and exercise regularly. The look on their faces was always funny because it was almost like they were wanting a pill or wrap or anything else outside of the obvious “I started taking care of myself” answer.

Maybe you’re in the same boat and are wanting to lose a specific amount of weight, and you either don’t know where to start, or you’ve tried before and quit on yourself. Today, we are going back to basics and learning how to take small steps in our health journey. For some of you, you may read these and think “well duh, tell me something I don’t know,” but knowing something and actually living it out are not the same thing. I challenge you to truly evaluate your journey and ask yourself if you’re taking these small steps on a consistent basis toward your goals.

  1. Drink half your weight in ounces of water daily

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that drinking plenty of water is vital to your health. The problem is that life gets in the way and let’s be honest, water isn’t very fun. If you weigh 200lbs, you should be drinking 100oz of water daily. I don’t care if you have to add berries and mint to your water or if you have to buy a cute water bottle to motivate you, just drink it. Water is essential for flushing out toxins, combating daytime fatigue, and is vital for nutrient absorption and proper digestion.

  1. Workout regularly

Listen, I know how hard it is to squeeze in a workout when you’re dropping kids off at volleyball practice, or your littlest one has the flu. Some days I get home from work late, and I just want to eat dinner and cuddle with my husband while binge watching Shameless, but no goal was met without a little sweat. I have a personal rule that I don’t go three days without a workout, and I never miss a Monday. Having this three-day rule keeps me on track and consistent with my fitness goals. Whether you’re walking, running, hitting the barre, or doing a workout video at home — just do it well and do it regularly.

  1. Eat real food

There’s no need to cut out carbs or starve yourself. Just eat real food. The Daniel Plan was my personal catalyst in cleaning up my diet years ago because it taught me to enjoy eating delicious, whole foods not man-made products. Start your day with eggs and steel cut oats, not pop tarts or cereal. Skip the frozen meals at lunch and pack a protein and superfood rich salad. For dinner try grilled chicken with brown rice and broccoli. My rule of thumb is to eat healthy 80% of the time and live with a bit more flexibility the other 20%. You’ll quickly learn that you don’t have to eat less, you just have to eat better.

  1. Have a consistent sleep schedule

You don’t have to tell this girl twice about quality sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is a vital part of your health journey. Your immune system relies on sleep, it helps you maintain a healthy balance of hormones, helps your brain prepare for the next day, and repairs muscles after a hard workout. Don’t skimp out on this key step!

  1. Keep track of your progress

Write down your goals and keep tabs on how you’re pacing toward them. I personally follow a grading system. For some, this may seem a bit obsessive, but it helps me realistically track toward my goals. I look at my week from a physical, spiritual, and nutritional perspective. Did I get my workouts in, was I intentional on reading my bible and praying, did I eat whole foods from the earth? It’s hard to expect A+ results with C- efforts. Evaluating myself weekly is the way I ensure I’m always putting my best foot forward.

Over the years, I’ve added on some fluff into my own health/fitness routine. I drink sparkling probiotics, chlorophyll, and apple cider vinegar on a regular basis. I think I would be lost without my daily dose of bone broth and I swear up and down by hot lemon water in the mornings. But the truth is that you have to have a solid foundation before you can add on the frills and thrills. It’s about learning to show up every single day and believing that the small steps really do add up in a big way. If you’re tired of giving up and starting over, implement these steps and see just how far taking care of yourself can take you toward your goals.