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I haven’t always had the happiest body – I was a sickly child who grew into a sickly adult. When I entered my twenties I did so with a lot of emotional baggage, extra weight and serious body image issues.

Recipe for a happy body? Not so much.

Thankfully, though, a lot changed in those ten years and now that I’m in my early thirties, I’m so much healthier. And happier.

Was it an overnight transformation? Um, no. Not even close. But at one point, I decided there was more to life than my daily aches and pains and self-loathing. And from there I consistently moved toward a lifestyle of wellness.

There were no magic pills (though essential oils felt pretty damn close). Thankfully, they weren’t necessary. Creating a happier body is a matter of creating habits that get you closer to where you want to be.

Need help? Try these simple practices for a happier body:

1. Drink a glass of water when you wake up

Because we get dehydrated simply by sleeping, and I’m sure it’s even worse for those of us who drool on our pillows. Drinking a glass of water when you get up is a great way to hydrate your body.

Making this a morning habit also keeps you from spiraling further into dehydration, especially if you always forget to drink water throughout the day (guilty, though the timers I’ve set on my phone are sort of helping).

Oh, and if you’re like me and for whatever reason just can’t drink water on an empty stomach (it makes me queasy), try hot herbal tea instead.

2. Eat breakfast

And make it something special. Use pretty napkins. Put on some music. Have fresh flowers on the table. Start your day with intention and treat your body kindly with some good food.

One of my favorite things about mornings is sitting down with a cup of my favorite tea and a simple, but nourishing breakfast. My favorite is a cup of homemade plain yogurt with some frozen berries stirred in (layer it in a mason jar and sprinkle with granola if you want to make it pretty, too).

3. Walk

I’m a Fitbit junkie. Mostly because I love that I feel more motivated to walk more, which in turn makes my body SO happy. (Though, I am taking a break from it for a while because I hate feeling like I have to have something, you know?)

Add in a walk to your day wherever it fits. Before everyone’s awake, after the kids go to school, whenever. Doesn’t matter how far, either. You decide what feels good for you. Just get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

4. Take a 15 minute break in the afternoon

Or, you know, thirty.

Sometime in the last few years I started observing a daily tea time at 4 pm. It probably had something to do with falling in love with the BBC … Anyway, this break is so good because:

  • I just really love any excuse to drink tea.
  • This break comes at a crucial time in my day. The kids are still a little crazy after getting home from school, I’m wrapping up my work day and it’s right before I jump into making dinner (essentially the beginning of our evening routine).

This might be the time of day you have to “power through” because you’re so tired, but you have to just. keep. going. What if, instead, you take a tiny little break that allows you to breathe and prepare for the coming madness? This is simple self-care at its finest (ok, maybe not it’s finest, but it’s pretty good).

5. Stretch and breathe

I started CrossFit a few months ago and I’ve never been more grateful for my yoga practice. Not only does stretching my muscles regularly feel good, but the act of slowing down, breathing and intentionally moving my body makes for a less stressful day.

Sometimes that looks like five minutes of my favorite poses for the sore muscles du jour. Others it’s a fun session with Adriene. Every day is different, but there’s always time to stretch and breathe.

6. Give thanks for three things

Because we get more of what we focus on and there is always, always something to be grateful for.

Practicing gratitude was a hard habit for me to develop. Hell, it’s still hard. But. On those days I remember to say thank you, whether it’s for bacon or beer or my beautiful family, I feel so much more peace, no matter what kind of crazy is going on.

And with four little kids, you can bet there’s always some kind of crazy.

7. Say kind things to your body

It’s too easy to focus on the things we dislike about our bodies, isn’t it? But what if we focused on the things we love? Too hard? Imagine your body is a sweet little child. Sounds silly, I know, but try it.

Once I took a step back and looked at my body in that way, it made it much easier for me to be more kind. Now I can catch myself before I say something unkind (most of the time) and silently, though sometimes out loud, tell my body how much I love my strength or softness or huge lips.

Creating a happier body is an act of love.