How to start a healthy lifestyle

One of the pillars of personal development is a healthy
lifestyle. You can’t hope to improve your life without taking care of
your health first.

Without health, even if you have
the best resources in the world, you won’t be able to enjoy them. Of
course, many people battle with different diseases in their daily life,
including me. But we must try to achieve optimal health in spite of the
diseases, to live your best life.


 

To start living
healthy you must consider different aspects of it like, getting a good
amount of sleep daily, eating good food and getting physical exercise.
So easy to say!  I know how hard it is to implement in real life. Yet,
there are people who are busier than you who accomplish all these, so
you can too.

It all comes down to how you prioritize
health in your life. Nothing worth having in life is easy. All those
people who consistently post pictures of their smoothie bowls and
six-pack bodies on Instagram, spend their time and energy to accomplish
it. It is because they have made it a priority.

I
don’t want to make it sound harder than it really is. I am an advocate
of starting things small and working your way up from there. 

So let’s see how to change your lifestyle to be a healthy one.

1. Change your eating habits

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need- Ayurvedic proverb

When it comes to food, there is no life without eating your favorite chocolate cake or pizza loaded with cheese. But save those for occasional treats. 

I
do not believe in following trendy diets or any diet which helps you
lose weight fast only to gain back double of it later. I believe in
cleaning out your existing diet without compromising much on the foods
you love. 

Clean eating should be more
of a lifestyle than a diet. According to me, the word diet creates
pressure on you and you feel bad when you cheat on it. 

WHAT IS HEALTHY EATING?

Healthy eating is, becoming more conscious of what you put into your body rather than just following your craving for instant gratification from sugary and processed foods. Healthy eating is, being mindful of what you eat and taking a decision to stop torturing your body with junk food.

To
make sure you get all the nutrition you need, it’s good to plan your
meals in advance. Make sure you include a different variety of fruits,
vegetables, and protein in your weekly menu so that your diet is
balanced.

Foods to avoid/ reduce in your diet:

Junk foods that do not provide any nutritional value, like

  • Processed foods
  • Sugary drinks
  • Foods that contain trans fat (donuts, cakes, fried salty snacks etc.)
  • Fast food
  • Soda and carbonated drinks
  • Packaged ready-to-eat food items
  • Foods containing artificial flavors

Foods to add instead:

  • Whole foods (foods that are unprocessed, unrefined and free from additives)
  • Lots of vegetables and fruits 
  • Healthy fats (avocado, nuts, fatty fish etc.)
  • Lean protein

Simple Swap technique

Whenever
I crave for sugar or junk food, I do a simple swap. That is, if I feel
like eating a cake or some bakery food, I go grab a fruit. Or have a
refreshing salad. In fact, you can start your healthy lifestyle journey
with such simple swaps. 

Introduce healthy eating habits into your life by taking one meal at a time and one day at a time. 

Prepare healthy make-ahead snacks

Your
environment has an influence on what you eat. Try going to the
supermarket when you are hungry. You end up buying packaged foods that
you never intended to buy. They never add any nutritional value to your
body because all they provide is empty calories.

To
avoid this, resist the urge to buy such packaged snacks. Instead,
prepare healthy snacks at home that require only a few ingredients and
no cooking. Instead of stocking your pantry with fried chips or
other junk that you bought from the supermarket on a whim, place only
healthy food ingredients. 

So when you are
hungry, you have no other option but to eat those. You can also store
nuts like cashew, almond etc in containers and keep them within your
reach.

Once in a week, prepare make-ahead snacks so
that when you feel low in energy, you can grab them easily without
feeling guilty later. Here is a post on 45 easy no-bake energy balls.

You can also store nuts like cashew, almond etc in containers and keep them within your reach.

Make changes slowly

Since your aim is to start a healthy lifestyle and not a diet, make gradual changes over time. 

If
you are used to drinking 10 cups of coffee a day, don’t reduce it to 3
cups at once. As I said, do simple swaps and reduce the intake of junk
food slowly and gradually. After a while, you will crave for healthy
meals more than junk.

2. Be more active

Starting a healthy lifestyle definitely includes taking care of your fitness by being more active and doing exercise. 

The
human body is designed to move constantly. Therefore, try to be more
active by doing what you love. It could be dancing, doing yoga, walking,
or lifting weights.

Some tips to stay active:

  • Walk small distances instead of using vehicles
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park your car away from the office and walk 
  • For every hour of sitting, stand up and do a stretching exercise for 10 minutes
  • Doing housework like cleaning, laundry, mowing the lawn etc. help you to burn calories and control weight.

Doing
regular exercise has many benefits for your body and mind. Exercise
helps you control your body weight and helps to prevent many diseases. 

Exercise
gives you immediate benefits like increased energy and mood and a
feeling of well-being. Doing physical activity makes your brain release
chemicals called dopamine, adrenaline, endorphins etc. These are
feel-good chemicals that give you a high after doing exercise.

You
feel renewed and fresh after a workout session because of these
chemicals. They also help to reduce stress and improve your mental
health. 

The Department of Health and Human Services states:

For
substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2
hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1
hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical
activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and
vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be
performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should
be spread throughout the week.

Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

Hence, exercise becomes an unnegotiable part of your life if you want to start a healthy lifestyle.

3. Improve your mental health

There is no health without mental health.

If
you are physically fit, but your mind struggles with issues like
anxiety, emotional outbursts, depression, eating disorders etc, you need
to cure it.

We all waste no time to get to a
physician if our body gets sick. But due to the stigma surrounding
mental health issues, many people suffer silently. But thanks to the new
awareness many people now understand that having a mental illness is
normal and it is absolutely okay to seek treatment.

Now even if you don’t suffer from a mental illness it is necessary to keep your mind healthy. 

4. Get adequate sleep

Getting
adequate sleep is an important pillar when it comes to building a
healthy lifestyle. But it is also something that we neglect most because
of our busy lifestyle.

Getting a good amount of
sleep is absolutely necessary if you want to be at your productive best.
Because sleep deprivation affects your brain’s ability to concentrate
and perform at its best. 

Poor sleep is
also associated with reduced immunity and many diseases. Therefore, no
matter how busy you are, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep daily.

Starting
healthy habits to establish a healthy lifestyle involves making
incremental changes in each area of your life. Start small, and make the
changes you really want in life. Feel free to ditch any habit that’s
not working for you. Remember it’s a journey, not a destination.

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