Want to know how to start a healthy lifestyle? In this article, you will read about what a healthy lifestyle is as well as some tips and tricks to help you live your best, most healthy life.
First thing’s first, health is not a destination. It is a fulfilling, thrilling, and sometimes challenging journey. If you have ever tried to break a bad habit, you know how hard it can be. As you go along this journey to living a healthier life, you may face obstacles and challenges along the way. It can be overwhelming at times.
Take every step as a learning opportunity and improve a little each day. By doing so, you will be your most healthy self before you know it!
What even is a “healthy” lifestyle?
This can be a topic for debate, so what is a healthy lifestyle? Personally, I believe that a healthy lifestyle can be different for everyone.
Does having a healthy lifestyle mean you eat veggies with every meal and workout everyday? Well, to be honest, that depends on you and your goals, as well as your mindset.
Because, let’s be honest, obsessively eating veggies and exercising everyday is not healthy – both mentally and physically.
A healthy lifestyle can look like a positive outlook, being at a healthy weight, and eating a well-balanced meal. It’s not always about being muscular or skinny.
As a reminder, no matter who you are or what you do, your health should be a priority. If you are working hard taking care of others, but not taking care of yourself, this can lead to burnout and problems long term.
As they teach passengers on an airplane to put your oxygen mask on before helping others, the same is true in life. You have to help yourself to help others.
How do you create a healthy lifestyle?
You’re reading this article because you want to know the secrets to unlock healthy, weight loss, or eating “right.”
Every person’s journey will look differently as everyone is beginning at a different starting line.
Below, you will find some generic steps you should take in order to start your healthy lifestyle and begin accomplishing your goals.
1. Identify Any Bad Habits That You Need To Change
This is going to be a real personal challenge. Take a look in the mirror and be honest with what bad habits you need to break and what good habits you need to make.
Make a list of habits you think you ought to change, and why you want to change them.
Make a list of habits you want to adopt and why.
2. Be Accountable for Making Those Changes
Don’t blame others for any mishaps along the way. Find out what YOU can do to accomplish your goals.
At the same time, if you are not accomplishing a goal like you thought you should, or you find it very difficult and unrealistic, write down any barriers you are facing that prevent you from doing the goal you set out to do.
Really analyze everything in order to make improvements.
Perhaps you found that going to the gym at 5AM everyday was not realistic. Should you try just going to the gym 3 times a week instead? Should you adjust your goal to doing a 5AM at-home workout, or should you go to the gym after work? Why did you want to go to the gym at 5AM everyday in the first place?
Sometimes goals we make in the beginning are unrealistic because we were too excited about the lifestyle changes we were making. Think about what you can do that helps you get better even if you are improving by 1% everyday.
Remember, even a change as miniscule as 1% adds up to 100% in less than 4 months.
3. Set Small Goals Along the Way
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for making a new habit.
In Atomic Habits by James Clear, he states “Habits are the compound interest of self improvement.”
In other words, keep the changes small and you will see the results add up over time.
One example on how to make a small goal is very-well outlined in Atomic Habits. He gives the example of making the habit to workout everyday.
This can be a big change for someone who doesn’t workout regularly already. The action of setting an alarm or packing a gym bag in advance can be a big undertaking alone – especially for a complete beginner.
Instead, make a smaller, more realistic goal at first. As an example, your goal could be to simply put on tennis shoes and go to the gym everyday. Don’t worry about working out or even touching a weight. Just physically go to the gym.
Just by going to the gym and stepping foot inside, you’ve met your daily goal and you are beginning to form the habit of taking yourself to where people workout. Why is this a good habit to form? Well, for many, myself included, the big barrier that keeps me from working out is the oh-so-simple yet daunting task of jumping in my car and getting my butt to the gym.
In time, this habit of going to the gym will make a huge difference in your health and fitness journey. In the book Atomic Habits, Clear describes that people have found that the small, realistic habit of getting to the gym leads to weight loss over time. After a while, they felt like they might as well do a workout while they were there – and they began to see results.
You can form even smaller habits in the beginning, such as simply putting on your sports bra and tennis shoes every morning without fail. It may sound silly and minor, but the first thing to work out is preparing to do so by getting dressed.
For more details about making good habits, I highly recommend you read Atomic Habits. It is truly life changing.
Related Post: Gym Bag Essentials Every Girl Should Know
4. Stay Positive
Having a positive attitude is known to make big differences in health and longevity. Studies show that positivity affects the brain and induces a reduction in illness.
Staying positive is so important with any goal that you set. Having the belief in yourself to accomplish whatever you want is key to success.
As par for the course, you will face obstacles when you try to change your lifestyle. It can be hard and uncomfortable at first, but staying positive and perhaps having a sense of humor along the way will make all of the difference during your journey.
Research shows that even a small shift in the way you talk to yourself can influence your feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress. So don’t forget to give yourself a pep talk and speak positive words!
Simple Habits to Help You Kick Start a Healthy Lifestyle
If you want to know specific actions to incorporate in your routine, then continue reading below. These habits are ones I try to consistently do on a regular basis in order to look and feel my best from within.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet means you have a healthy ratio of junk foods and whole, healthy foods in your everyday diet. It also means eating a good proportion of fats, proteins, and carbs.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
A good way to know if you’re eating balanced is to follow the 80/20 rule. But what is the 80/20 rule?
According to this rule, you eat healthy, whole foods 80% of the time. For the remaining 20%, you eat whatever you want.
This way you don’t feel deprived of any foods you may be craving. I am a big believer that you can eat anything in moderation.
What foods should you reduce in your diet?
- Highly processed sugars and grains
- Ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat foods that aren’t fresh
- Sugary drinks
- Foods with artificial flavors
What foods should you increase in your diet?
- Lean protein
- Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, olives, etc.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole foods that are unprocessed and unrefined
I encourage you to prepare healthy meals and snacks ahead of time whenever possible. That way when you’re hungry you’re able to easily grab a bite to eat and won’t feel the need to eat fast food in order to save time.
Related Article: 6 Healthy Snacks to Eat When Junk Food Cravings Hit
2. Be More Physically Active
I personally love to be active and move my body because it makes me feel so good from within. On days without activity, I feel sluggish, my stomach feels heavy, and my mood is a little down. After a workout, my body feels refreshed and energized so I can cease the day with a smile on my face.
In today’s world, it feels like a no-brainer that physical fitness is important for health. We are constantly seeing ways to get more fit with gym ads, workout apps, and yoga studios all around us.
But, if you don’t already know, it is most important to move your body in whatever way makes you feel good whether that be rock climbing, dancing, or playing pickleball. As a beginner, it is not easy to be consistent with physical fitness, so start by doing physical activities that make you happy.
Simply going for a walk is a wonderful way to live a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. This could look like going for a 30 minute walk five times during a week. So lace up your tennis shoes and start moving!
Related Article: Workout Essentials for Beginners
3. Get A Good Night’s Rest
This is definitely easier said than done – especially if you work night shifts like I do.
When it comes to health, getting a good night’s rest is a wonderful habit to start prioritizing.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 7 hours or more of sleep for healthy adults on a regular basis. However, if you miss a night or two of adequate sleep, your sleep needs will go up, which is sometimes known as being in “sleep debt.” This could look like sleeping in late on the weekends, for example, because your body needed the extra time to recharge.
If you have any signs of sleep deprivation, you need to get more sleep. Signs can include drowsiness and having a hard time getting out of bed each day. Those are your indicators to analyze your sleeping habits, identify any issues, and create an action plan to get more sleep.
The Exact Habits That Changed My Life
Some of you may not know that my journey to a more healthy lifestyle has had many ups and downs. When I was younger, I was not conscientious about what I was eating at all. I was physically active by being involved with the marching band and by playing water polo, but other than that I had never touched a weight in my life. Going for a run was not a concept I could fathom – but I did enjoy a walk around the block every now and then.
As a college freshman at a military school, I learned so much more about athleticism. I never considered how exercise can and should be part of one’s lifestyle – and I fell in love with improving each day. As I saw myself making big improvements in my athletic performance, my passion for fitness was born.
If it weren’t for the strict rules of being at a military school, where I was woken up early to reveille in the mornings even if I didn’t feel like it, I probably would have never made the habit to workout more regularly. But I’m grateful for that experience because it made me form new habits.
I learned to see the value in athleticism for an average person like me. Because, I mean c’mon, what if you have to run from a zombie during the apocalypse? I am kidding but I hope you see my point – healthy living is important. It is a great feeling to easily keep up with playing a game of pickleball with friends and not feeling out of shape, or to simply be able to climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath.
So what exactly are the habits that changed my life forever?
1. Don’t Go Three Days Without Working Out
Why such a strict rule? Well truthfully, it is not as strict as it seems, but it is a good rule of thumb that I follow.
For me, three days is a point where my body would start to feel a little off – meaning I would feel the tendency to make those three days four, five, eight, or more.
For me, not skipping a workout for more than three days in a row is somewhat easy because my body would begin to crave movement. I would feel like I had energy to burn and, as they say about kids, I felt I needed to “get my wiggles out.”
I knew I needed to move my body whether it be a dance class, a walk, or a Youtube workout. Exercising every three days at a minimum helps my body stay in the practice of movement and it doesn’t let me start a habit of not moving my body, which I try to avoid.
As a disclaimer, I understand this doesn’t always work out. Sometimes you’re gonna be on vacation for a week so just enjoy yourself! Once you’re back home and getting back into a routine, start your regular regime. There is evidence that taking a break for up to three weeks does not cause any loss in muscle mass. Don’t be too hard on yourself, just keep putting your best foot forward and enjoy the journey!
2. 10 Minutes is Better Than Nothing
I used to think that I had to do at least a 45 minute workout for it to count..but I was so wrong!
Sometimes, I don’t have a lot of energy for a 45 minute workout, but I still want to keep the habit of exercise in my body and get my blood pumping.
There are countless workouts on Youtube that are 10 or 15 minutes that I regularly do, and I love doing them at home. Ten minutes IS enough!
3. Rest is Very Important for Good Health
Having rest days is very important. It gives the mind and body time to relax and recharge.
Incorporating rest days into your weekly routine as well as prioritizing good sleep are vital for living a healthy lifestyle.
The Bottom Line on How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle
Starting a healthy lifestyle is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight.
Lean into the journey. Make the best of every day and keep focusing on the positives.
Prioritize making small improvements each day and in time you will find that your entire life has changed for the better.
Remember that you are capable of anything.