89 Incredibly Simple Swaps That Could Change Your Life





Whole grains for white, quality for quantity, Wii Fit for Mario Kart—just one smart swap can pave the way to a healthier and happier life. We decided to go all out and provide 89 “this for that’s,” so there are no excuses when it comes to making healthier choices!


1. Dynamic for Static Stretching


1. Dynamic for Static Stretching

Stretching out cold muscles could lead to injury. So incorporate some active movement into a stretching routine—try lunges and arm swings before working out.

2. Interval Workout for Relaxed Run

Congrats on that 26.2-mile marathon. Now try a 20-minute interval run that involves lots of sprinting with some walking recovery. It may kick up the heat even more.

3. Incline for Flat Treadmill

In a perfect, outdoor world, flat roads rarely exist. (Sorry, midwestern readers!) Add some hills to that treadmill run by cranking up the incline, and feel the muscle-building burn!

4. Zumba for Elliptical

Trash that Cosmo-reading elliptical routine and surprise the body with a fun, calorie-burning cardio session. Sure beats staying stuck to a machine.

5. Planks for Crunches

OK have we said this enough? Crunches may not be the secret to six-pack abs. Give planks a try instead to work that wholecore. Extra points for holding it for a minute straight!

6. Warming up for Rushing Right To It

We know that barbell looks tempting. But before hitting the weight rack, do an activewarm-up to loosen up limbs and get the most out of the workout.

7. Standing for Sitting at a Desk


7. Standing for Sitting at a Desk

How often does someone complain about having to sit in a cubicle all day? We have a simple solution (no college degree required)… stand. Use a pile of books to prop up the computer, or purchase one of these.

8. Exercise Ball for Office Chair

Okay, we get it. Some people really don’t want to stand at their cubicle. So stay seated, but on a Swiss ball! It can help with balance and that six-pack. Fitness at the fingertips!

9. Gym for Napping

Falling asleep at the wheel? Pull over. Tired in front of the TV? Hit the gym. It provides a big boost of energy and burns calories.

10. Free Weights for Machines

Skip the big machines (they’re sweaty anyway) and go for the little guys—free weightsare more versatile and allow for a full range of motion in the joints.

11. Pull-Ups for Biceps Curls

Isolating muscles is so 2012. Pull-ups are not only impressive (I can do two,thankyouverymuch) but they work way more than one muscle. Talk about multitasking.

12. Squats for Leg Press

Forget staying seated to work out the legs. Amp up the training sesh and do some squats to strengthen all the leg muscles, with some gluteus maximus work in there too!

13. Personal trainer for Guessing Games

Just when we think we’ve had enough, trainers may help push us through that second set of burpees. Look for a deal online to cut the cost in half!

14. Foam Rolling for Static Stretching

Need to get the knots out? Try using a foam roller instead of sitting and stretching to the toes. It’s almost like a personal massage.

15. Exergames for Mario Kart

Mario may be booking it through the race course, but holding the remote control does next to nothing for our own heart rate. Try out Wii Fit or Just Dance—they’re designed to provide light to moderate exercise.

16. Rowing for Biking

How often can we row, row, row a boat indoors? Take advantage of the rowing machine instead of the good ’ol bike; it’s a super upper and lower body exercise.

17. Stairs for Escalator


17. Stairs for Escalator

We’ve heard the tip a million times, so here it is for the millionth plus one. If the option’s available, go the old-fashion route and climb the stairs to burn some extra calories.

18. Fun Workout for Dreaded Workout

Loathe the elliptical? Try the stair-master. Hate the bench press? Do push-ups instead. We can still challenge ourselves without doing exercises we hate.

19. Active Date for Dinner and a Movie

Save a night at that French restaurant for retirement and go on a fun, active winter date with a special someone. Sledding can be just as intimate as duck confit, and it sneaks in a hill-climbing workout, too.

20. Parking Farther Away for Getting A Spot Up Close

There’s no need to circle the parking lot five times looking for the perfect spot. Just park further away and walk the extra 100 feet to Target. (Doesn’t count as a trip to the gym, though!)

21. Walking Farther for Running Shorter

New to running? It’s okay. Even if a mile is all that’s possible, keep walking for a good cardio workout. Hold some light weights to up the intensity even more!

22. Working Out With a Pal for Exercising Alone

Grab that special someone or just a friend and hit the gym; working out with others maystrengthen trust. Plus he or she could help motivate us through that final set of push-ups!

23. Hands-Free Running for Holding Handles


23. Hands-Free Running for Holding Handles

Hands off! On the treadmill, don’t rely on the handlebars. They take some of the stress off the body and make that workout less challenging.

24. Cherry Juice for Muscle Medicine

Feeling sore? Rather than popping some pills, try drinking a glass of cherry juice. The antioxidants could help keep muscle swelling down. (Take that, Aspirin!)

25. Homemade Post-Workout Snack for a Protein Bar

Bring a PB&J or another post-workout snack to the gym rather than buying a protein bar. We need some after-exercise fuel, but don’t get it in the form of excess sugar!


26. Cooking at Home for Eating Out

Even if we try to eat healthy at a restaurant, that pesky bread bowl or sneaky salad may pack more calories than we planned for. Trust those top-chef skills and turn on the (skillet) heat. Cooking at home will more likely result in a healthier meal, not to mention a happier wallet.

27. Whole Fruit for Fruit Juice


27. Whole Fruit for Fruit Juice

A glass of O.J.’s missing the pulp, skin, and full fiber content of an orange. Skip the glass and go with the whole piece of fruit to reap the benefits of this sweet, healthy snack.

28. Pan-Fried for Deep-Fried

Obvious news flash: Deep-fried food is unhealthy. Keep things crispy by pan-frying lean protein or veggies in the skillet with some cooking oil. We promise it’ll be just as tasty!

29. Local Produce for Supermarket Veggies

Take a trip to the farmer’s market instead of Walmart’s produce aisle. According to the USDA, local, seasonal fruits and veggies may be more nutritious. It helps out local economies, too!

30. Oil and Balsamic for Other Dressings

Ever flip that dressing bottle around and see a million ingredients listed? Think “less is more” and lightly dress a salad with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar—no additives included!

31. Raw Spinach for Iceberg Lettuce


31. Raw Spinach for Iceberg Lettuce

Let’s be real, iceberg lettuce is boring. Besides, spinach is full of vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. Plus, Popeye loves it. Can’t go wrong!

32. Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream

Sour cream can taste pretty good in a burrito. To get that same creamy coolness, add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to amp up the protein and slash the fat.

33. Cinnamon for Sugar

Here’s a spicy suggestion: Using cinnamon, rather than sugar packets, in coffee can heighten the flavor without adding extra calories. Try it in oatmeal too!

34. Salsa for Cream Cheese Dips

You say tomato, I say salsa. Dip the chip into this healthy alternative to cheesy spreads. Plus, salsa packs a fiery, flavorful punch!

35. Frozen Grapes for Popsicles

It may sound a little weird, but hear us out. Stick a bunch of grapes in the freezer and snack on them a few hours later—it’s like eating bite-sized Popsicles with no added sugar!

36. Sparkling Water for Soda


36. Sparkling Water for Soda

Need a carbonation kick? Say sayonara to fructose-filled sodas and fill up with sparking water. Try a fun flavor like lemon-lime, or even vanilla. So long, Vanilla Coke!

37. Fresh Fruit for Syrup at Brunch

Every now and then, there’s nothing like a good stack of pancakes. Cut calories by skipping Aunt Jemima and spreading those cakes with fresh fruit.

38. Air-Popped Popcorn for Chips

On a salt spree? Air-pop some popcorn and add a dash of salt—three whole cups is only about 100 calories. That’s way more satisfying than six measly and greasy chips.

39. Doggy Bag for Food Coma

How often do we leave a restaurant actually having room for dessert? Forget trying to lick the plate clean, and take half the meal to go. To avoid eating more than planned, ask the waiter to wrap half of it up before serving!

40. Brown Rice for White Rice

It’s in our manifesto, so we can’t ignore it: White rice is stripped of many essential nutrients (like fiber), so get the full, nutritious benefits of brown rice that’ll also help fill us up!

41. Whole-Wheat Pasta for White Pasta

Just like rice, whole-wheat pasta has a nutty flavor that’s filled with antioxidants and fiber. White pasta just doesn’t do the trick!

42. Oatmeal for Sugary Cereal

Cap’n Crunch and Frosted Flakes should stay a part of our childhood past. One bowl of cereal can be filled with sugar (and who eats only one bowl?), so choose some heart-healthy oatmeal instead.

43. Biking to Work for Driving

If the office is a few miles away, skip the Sedan and hop on the bike (weather permitting). A little bike-ride can boost endorphins before the workday starts! (Paying for gas is no fun, anyway.)

44. Packing Lunch for Eating Out

Lunch boxes aren’t just for middle school. Pack a sandwich or some leftovers to bring to school, work—wherever. It’ll make that vending machine look far less appetizing.

45. Eating Three Meals for Skipping and Snacking

We should only eat when we’re hungry, but being too busy to squeeze in a mid-day meal can leave us feeling tired and grouchy—not to mention depriving us of essential nutrients to get us through the day!

46. Mustard for Mayo

For tomorrow’s turkey sandwich, skip the fat-filled mayo and spread some tasty (andnaturally fat-free) mustard on the bread!

47. Avocado Toast for Butter

Take plain old bread to the next level with avocado spread instead of butter. Add a dash of sea salt and some sliced tomato for a mid-day snack!

48. Lean Meats for Fatty Ones

Bacon is overrated. For a boost of protein when watching fat intake, go after lean meatslike turkey and chicken over pork and beef.

49. Marinara Sauce for White Sauce

We doubt penne ala vodka is made with Grey Goose, and besides, all the extra calories in white sauce aren’t worth it. Choose marinara sauce for that next bowl of spaghetti—thegarlic and tomatoes will spice the meal right up!

50. Red Wine or Beer for a Margarita


50. Red Wine or Beer for a Margarita

Wanna’ stay healthy at the bar? Ask for a glass of red wine or a beer on tap over a sugary-filled margarita. About half those calories will disappear!

51. Chewing Slowly for Speed Eating

What’s the rush? Slow down and chew food—studies show people who eat faster consume more calories.

52. Eating at the Table for Chowing in Front of the TV

Dining in front of the television can lead to serious overeating. So forget multitasking and carve out time in the day to enjoy a meal at the table.

53. Eating Breakfast for Hitting Snooze (Again)

It may be temping to hit the snooze button more than once in the morning, but allow some time for breakfast—it may help jumpstart metabolism, and at the very least could help some of us wake up before heading to the office.

54. Black Coffee for Latte

If that caffeine fix is calling, order a simple black coffee. A soy-mocha-extra-shot-frappuccino extravaganza isn’t worth the calories (or dolla dolla bills).

55. Toast for Bagel

How often do we eat five slices of toast for breakfast? Well, that’s what a bagel can amount to, so fight that Dunkin’ Donuts craving and enjoy a slice or two of whole-wheat bread.

56. Medium Plate for Large One


56. Medium Plate for Large One

Using a larger plate may have us eating more than planned. Switch to a smaller one (about 8 to 10 inches) and save more than 20 percent of the calories a large plate could pile on.

57. Eating From the Bowl Over Digging Into the Box

Some mindless handfuls of cereal can turn into more than a bowl’s worth. So portion out food rather than eating straight from the (soon-to-be-empty) box.

58. Hard-Boiled Eggs for Fried

Who needs extra grease in the morning? Drop some eggs in boiling water and cook them up for a protein-packed breakfast.

59. Chopsticks for Forks

Slow down and eat that Pad Thai with some chopsticks. It may be a challenge, but it’ll stop us from speed-slurping those noodles with a fork.

60. Grocery Shopping When Full for Shopping Hungry

Whole Foods may damage our bank account if we head in with hungry eyes. (Wait, how did three packages of all-natural cookies get in the pantry?) Shop when full to avoid buying more than what’s necessary.

61. Stopping When Full for Cleaning the Plate

Sorry mom, but telling us to clean our plates before leaving the table has led to some bad habits. Listen to the body and stop eating when it’s had enough—a plate half-full means more leftovers and fewer calories!

62. Raw Nuts for Nut Butter


62. Raw Nuts for Nut Butter

Nut butters can sneak in extra fat and sugar that raw nuts don’t have. Plus, eating three spoonfuls of peanut butter may be easier than we think!

63. Power Nap for Energy Drink

For a quick pick-me-up, take a 10-minute snooze rather than grabbing a Red Bull. Energy drinks can pack as much sugar as six Krispy Kreme donuts, while a catnap is alwayscalorie-free.


64. Gratitude for Complaining

Feeling thankful can actually make us happier and healthier, so don’t forget to appreciate every bit of good in life!

65. Outside for Inside

Soak up the sun—even in the winter. Exercising in the cold is safe, and getting outdoors could help battle Seasonal Affective Disorder.

66. Book for Television

All those zombie shows may not only freak us out, but also give us nightmares. Get a dose of knowledge and read a good novel before bed. It may help us get better sleep too!

67. Meditation for Comfort Food

When stress strikes, don’t grab a tub of ice cream for comfort. Try dimming the lights and meditating for as little as five minutes—it’s totally calming.

68. Yoga for Facebook


68. Yoga for Facebook

Got a spare 30 minutes? Those Facebook friends won’t post any shape-shifting statuses. Use the free time to roll out the yoga mat and work on flexibility and strength while alleviating stress and anxiety.

69. Being Upfront for Acting Passive Aggressive

Roommate forgot to clean the dishes again? Rather than bottling up that anger, be forthright (but nice!). Working out issues is better than building up inner frustration.

70. Breathing for Being a Stress Mess

Calm breathing can boost relaxation and calm the mind. Take a long, deep breath to relax the bod rather than stressing out.

71. Working at a Desk for Working in the Bedroom

Finish that assignment at a desk rather than between the sheets. Working in bed could make it harder to fall asleep!

72. Fun Alarm Clock Song for Annoying Ringer

Who wants to be woken from a peaceful slumber thanks to an irritating beep? (Waking up early is hard enough.) Choose a fun little melody on the cell phone to wake up to instead!

73. Fancy Silverware for Plastic

Let’s get a little classy— even in that shabby apartment. Using some nice forks and knives will add some style to that bowl of ramen noodles, making us feel like real adults.

74. Carpooling for Driving Alone

H.O.V. lane aside, carpooling with a pal can make a morning commute less boring. Besides, it reduces air pollution and cuts down on gas money.

75. Journaling for Emotional Eating


75. Journaling for Emotional Eating

Sometimes a cookie or two can lift our spirits, but writing down our thoughts can be just as therapeutic—no calories involved.

76. Smiling for Frowning

Even when we’re alone, smiling can improve mood. Try grinning in the shower or on the way to work—it may really make us feel cheerful.

77. Color for Drab Shades

Science suggests wearing red can boost confidence and self-esteem. So save the black for the Batman costume and brighten up that wardrobe.

78. Keeping the Same Bedtime for Winging It

Setting a bedtime schedule may help us fall asleep faster, so pick a good time and try to stick to it!

79. Little Milestones for Big Goals

Thinking big is great, but huge goals may take time to reach. Don’t forget the small achievements we can make—they’ll also add up to big, positive change!

80. Clean Workspace for Clutter

Take some time to put away the laundry and organize the paper-piled desk. Having a clean space may make us more organized and eager to tackle the day.

81. Venting to a Friend for Bottling It Up

Sometimes life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. When sad or stressed, reach out to a trusted friend instead of holding in the feelings. Just talking could make us feel better!

82. Self-Love for Self-Criticism

We often focus on our faults rather than our worth. Stop pointing out the negative and focus on all those redeeming qualities!

83. Focusing on the Future Instead of Dwelling on the Past

Don’t focus on yesterday’s issues. Think of the possibilities and go after that goal!

84. Moderation for Deprivation

We can still be healthy without skipping dessert. As long as we regulate our indulgences, they can help keep that smile around. So go ahead—treat yo' self.

85. Calling a Friend for Texting


85. Calling a Friend for Texting

Phone a friend rather than shooting them a text. It’s more personal, and hearing a friendly voice may lift the spirits.

86. Honesty for Excuses

The gym wasn’t too crowded, and the bus actually didn’t come late. Skip the excuses—being honest with others and ourselves is the best option.

87. Comfy Shoes for Fancy Footwear

Blisters and sore soles are never fun, no matter how suave those shoes may look. Better keep it comfy in the foot department.

88. Saying No for Over-Committing

Sometimes saying no is hard, but agreeing to too much can be overwhelming and bring on sickness. Figuring out what we can realistically commit to will help keep stress away.

89. Planning for Procrastination

Got a lot to do? Making a plan, rather than waiting ’til the last minute, helps ensure we get things done.


Originally published March 2014. Updated December 2015.