Whether you have recently decided to embark on a journey to become more fit or lose a few extra pounds, it all starts with a healthy lifestyle. Now, healthy living is more than just exercise or healthy eating. A healthy lifestyle is also about your mental health.
Before we get started on these here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- The scale isn’t your only way of tracking progress. If it’s time for your monthly weigh in and those numbers aren’t doing what you want them to, just remember there could literally be a thousand reasons as to why. When this happens, take the time to remember how good it’s felt making the change to a healthy lifestyle. Maybe you are more confident or just remind yourself that a month ago you couldn’t do what you are doing now. Sometimes it takes a while for our bodies to catch up.
- We all fall off the wagon. Everyone who has ever started a fitness journey has fallen/gotten/jumped off of the wagon. This isn’t going to be a linear process. You are going to have good days and you are going to have bad days. If you have a bad day, don’t let this derail you. Get back on that wagon!
- Be your own motivation! There is no one way for everyone to be motivated. We all have different things that get us out of bed in the morning. One thing that can help you get motivated is taking the time to plan out your goals.
- Go at your own pace. This is an ultra marathon, not a sprint. Make changes gradually that will last a lifetime, not just until you reach your goal.
- Find your balance. Just because you are choosing to live healthy, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your guilty pleasures. You can still have your chocolate cake or french fries with ice cream. Just learn how to enjoy these in moderation.
Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s get on with the main aspects of healthy living:
Healthy Eating 101
Healthy eating can be confusing at times. There is no one way to do it. We can break it down into three main categories called macronutrients:
- Carbohydrates: Shockingly, these actually aren’t the devil. Approximately 50% of your daily energy intake should be carbs. However, there are good carbs and bad carbs. Generally speaking your good carbs are veggies an whole grains. Sugars are also a carbohydrate and once again there are good sugars and there are bad sugars. Fruits are an excellent source of natural sugars.
- Fats: Contrary to popular belief, fats don’t exactly make you fat. Again, there are good fats (such as omega 3’s) and there are bad fats (trans fats). Good sources of fats can be found in fish, nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Protein: This is the stuff that helps your muscles. For most people this will be meat, but for you veggies and vegans out there there are tons of great substitutes such as beans and tofu. Regardless of where you get your protein from, just be careful with some of the more processed foods. Things like hot dogs, sausages, and even some meat substitutes contain a lot of artificial junk that isn’t so great for your body. When you go grocery shopping, just make sure to read the labels!
This is just a basic overview of healthy eating. If you want a few more details, check out my post Fitness For Beginners.
As I mentioned, people often forget to take care of their mental health. A healthy diet and exercise are a great start for maintaining good mental health, but here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Figure out your triggers. What makes you feel bad about yourself? By figuring out what sends you to those deep dark corners of your mind can help you find ways of preventing that.
- Reduce stress. There are a multitude of ways you can reduce your stress. Sometimes we need to just take a step back and breath or maybe we need to just meet the task head on.
- Have positive relationships. We all have that one friend who has a negative spin on everything. After we hang out with them we just feel drained. Having people like this around you is not good. Make new friends by finding social activities at work, school, or within your community.
- Have you time. Life is busy and we often don’t have the time to sit with our own thoughts. Try to take time each day and just clear your head. Take a nice warm bath with some awesome smelling bubble bath or take up meditation.
Think positively. Even if your days sucks, don’t think about how it could have been better, focus on the good that will come out of this.
Having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to go hit the weights on a daily basis or run a marathon each month. All it means is that you don’t just sit around all the time. Find ways of keeping yourself moving. You could:
- Take up gardening. You could even grow some of your own fruits and veggies! Not to mention that gardening is theraputic
- Go for a walk. If you are at home and all you can thik about is having a nice slice of chocolate cake, take a walk. Walking has so many health benefits. It helps us sleep better, clear our heads, it’s not as hard on our bodies as running, and it will help tone your legs!
- Clean the house. Not only does this get you moving, but having a clean living space makes people happier and more calm.
- Go grocery shopping. Go buy some fresh ingredients and then come home and make a nice meal. Doing it with some friends or family can make it into a great social event too!
If you are interested in starting a weight training regiment you can check out my post Weight Lifting: The Basics.
There is no one way of having a healthy lifestyle. We are all different. Take the time to figure out what works best for you!