One of the most common misgivings people have when it comes to embarking upon a healthy living plan is that they believe it will be prohibitively expensive to implement. At first glance it is easy to see where they are coming from. Gym memberships and fitness equipment don’t come cheap and a huge number of the supplements on the market, certainly in the fitness market, seem hugely expensive. However, it’s not all bad news.

You can make some hugely significant changes to your life for FREE! In this day and age with everybody living such hectic, stressful lives it is easy to overlook the basic fundamentals of healthy living, and to concentrate on the latest fad diet or exercise gimmick to provide us with the quick fix that so many people crave. So lets just take a minute to check out the 3 essentials to leading a healthier life, things we can implement right now without spending a dime.

There is a magic elixir that can cure all ills and is completely overlooked by most people. It’s name, Water! For years, doctors, nutritional experts and fitness trainers have recommended that drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day is an absolute must to maintain good health. Drinking more will help burn extra fat by increasing lipolysis and mobilizing stored fat.

Of course there have been countless studies into this. The University of Utah carried out one of the most recent. They found that people who drink the most water have higher metabolisms. In this study, subjects drank 4, 8, or 12 cups of water each day. Those who drank at least 8 cups reported better concentration and higher energy levels, and tests showed that they were burning more calories than the 4-cups-a-day group. As we know, higher metabolisms lead to greater fat loss, a vital tool in any weight loss quest.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey measured where most of our calories come from and discovered, to their horror, that the category making up the largest percentage of our calorie intake-over 7% in fact-was not a food at all. It was soda!

All these carbonated beverages contain loads and loads of sugar and empty calories (or health zapping artificial sweetners). In addition, they can cause bloating and water retention. The bottom line here is steer clear of the fizzy drinks and unhealthy juices and just stick to water if you possibly can. Many times fat will melt away with this one small change.

The second element to utilize in any healthy living plan is that most natural of states, sleep! I can’t begin to stress the importance of a good night’s sleep, at least 7-8 hours if at all possible. Lack of sleep has been proven to cause any number of problems, including severe mood swings, lack of memory and chronic fatigue. It has also been linked to high blood pressure, metabolism and weight issues, and depression. The key point here is that too little sleep leaves us completely unable to function at our best. How on earth can you expect to lead a healthy life if you are not getting enough sleep?

Now there are numerous tips on how to get a better night’s sleep and we could probably fill another couple of pages on the subject, however, here are just a couple to get on with. Firstly, commit to developing a routine around your bedtime. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up in the morning the same way. Keep your bedroom free of white noise and unnecessary distractions and try to keep the room dark and cool. Experiment with the number of pillows etc to make sure your bed is as comfortable as possible. Whatever it takes, get some sleep!

Finally, let’s just take some time to CHILL OUT!! Stress is possibly the biggest killer in the western world. There seems to be so much anger and pressure in our everyday lives that it’s little wonder we find it so difficult to stick to our healthy living regime. Take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Yoga, meditation, massage, prayer, painting, writing, singing, dancing or making love. Whatever it takes for you to relax and get some perspective on life.

These 3 fundamentals are relatively simple to put into action, however, when it comes to really making some positive changes in your life they are just the tip of the iceberg, although you should aim to make them an essential part of your healthy living plan. Whether you are trying to lose weight or not they will still constitute good advice and should be heeded.

The great news here however, is that you are not alone. Changing your life for the better can be challenging and you will need all the help you can get. Grab a friend for support or hire a coach who will hold you accountable to what you say you want.