Your body is the only one you have for all of your life. Knowing that you’ll have to wake up and be yourself, day after day, should be enough to convince anyone to live a healthier lifestyle! The more you take care of your body, the happier and healthier you will be. Living a healthy lifestyle is not as difficult as it may seem. While it takes a bit of planning and determination, the results are well worth it. With a combination of a healthy diet, consistent exercise and uplifting activities, you’ll be reaping the results almost instantly.
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Everyone has their own idea of a healthy diet. Should you be gluten-free, Paleo, vegetarian or vegan? Depending on the way you execute each popular diet, they all have their pros and cons. You could be the healthiest vegetarian in the world and live off of fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy sources of protein, or you could consider yourself a vegetarian and live off of pasta and french fries. The secret to a healthy diet is not necessarily the title of the diet itself, but what you actually put into your body.
- Water: Ah, the source of all life. Odds are you’re not drinking enough water and you don’t even realize it. Try to keep track of the number of glasses of water you drink every day. Do you hit the recommended eight glasses? If you exercise regularly (which we’ll get to a little later), then you should be drinking even more than that to keep your body hydrated. Over 60% of your body is composed of water! No wonder you feel so sluggish and lethargic when you haven’t drank enough water. Another tip: start your day with a tall glass of water, before you’ve had your coffee or breakfast. It helps jump start your system so that your metabolism starts running and your body wakes up faster, and fills up your stomach so that you don’t overeat!
- Fruits and vegetables: You don’t need to cut out meat altogether, but try to make sure at least 50% of your plate is filled up with fruits and vegetables at every meal. You may be taking vitamin supplements, but vitamins and minerals are better straight from the source. Instead of popping that vitamin C pill at breakfast, start your day with a fresh orange! If you’re opposed to a certain fruit or vegetable, maybe you just need to try it in a different form. Blending together frozen fruit and almond milk is a great way to get a wide variety of nutrients in one delicious drink, while juicing vegetables makes it easier to consume more servings of vegetables while masking the flavors of the ones you don’t like.
- A rainbow of color: The more colors on your plate, the wider the range of nutrients you are consuming. When preparing your meals for the day, think of the rainbow: red (peppers, tomatoes), orange (oranges, carrots), yellow (pineapple, mango), green (avocado, lettuce), blue/violet (blueberries, eggplant).
- Shop around the perimeter: Think of the layout of the last grocery store you walked into. Fresh meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables and dairy products are all around the perimeter of the store, while most of the processed foods are located in the center aisles. When grocery shopping, try to focus almost solely on the perimeter of the store. The more time you spend in the center, the more tempted you will be to pick up processed foods and snacks – which are often filled with an excessive amount of salt and unhealthy chemicals.
- Watch your liquids: When you’re thirsty but want something more flavorful than water, what do you reach for? Most fruit juices and sodas are filled with excess sugar or artificial sweeteners, both of which you want to remove from your diet. You can create a wide variety of deliciously flavored drinks by mixing in your favorite fruits and natural sweeteners such as honey or agave to your water. Try making ice cubes with a combination of lemon, lime and mint to garnish your summer drinks!
Consistent exercise can actually minimize the negative effects of aging. If you walk a mile down the street, do you feel winded? How wonderful would it feel to be able to run around your neighborhood without feeling as though you’re going to pass out from exhaustion? With regular exercise, you’ll be happier, more energized and feel your body strengthening with each passing day.
- If you haven’t exercised at all recently, start slow. You don’t want to run a marathon before you’ve had the chance to train! Even getting out of the house and walking to the grocery store instead of driving is a great place to start. Try to make an afternoon (or morning, or evening) walk part of your daily routine. In addition to getting your blood flowing and burning a few excess calories, it will give you the chance to relax your mind so that you are more focused on your tasks as soon as you return.
- If you feel as though you’re the gym type, join a gym! You’ll have access to a ton of cardio and strength training equipment, and you can create an exercise regime based on your own personal needs. If you’re simply trying to become more fit and lose a bit of extra weight, try alternating cardio with strength training and give yourself one or two days off a week to rest.
- Not the gym type? Not a problem. Try getting pilates or yoga instruction tapes, and make a commitment to practicing them every day. This way you can exercise your body from the comfort of your own home without worrying about what others are thinking of you.
- While structured exercise is important, you could be getting exercise every day and not even realize it. Do you spend a lot of time running around doing errands, cleaning the house or tending to your garden? Even the simplest activities can contribute to your health and wellbeing; you may not be the next gold metal athlete, but you shouldn’t be a couch potato either.
- Pick up a new hobby. Getting stuck in a rut of consistency can be boring and almost overwhelming at times. Make it a point to pick up one new hobby every month, and nurture that newfound passion. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to knit, or play the ukulele or teach yourself HTML, there’s no time like the present!
- Let your mind wander. People tend to be too hard on themselves, feeling as though they are wasting their time if every second isn’t put towards something productive. Take some time out of every day to spend with yourself, either writing your thoughts down in a journal or sitting down to read your favorite novel.
- Treat yourself. If you’re sticking with a healthy diet, chances are you’ve been saving a bit of money not buying so many processed foods. Every time you’re tempted to buy an unhealthy food or drink but you abstain, put that money into a savings account. You’ll be surprised how much money accumulates over the course of the next year! Take those savings and treat yourself to a nice, relaxing vacation, even if it’s just spending a night at a bed and breakfast the next town over, or buy yourself that luxury item you never could justify before.
- Get enough sleep! If your body is sleepy, let it sleep. Even if you’re swamped with work, one good night’s rest will allow you to be much more productive the next day than you would have been without it.
- Share a laugh with good company. Remember your best friend from high school that you haven’t talked to in years? Call her up. That nice man you met at a gallery opening last week? Get coffee with him tomorrow. Positive social interaction does wonders for your mental wellbeing. Even if it’s just a casual five minute chat with a friend, it can raise your spirits for the rest of the day.
- Hug at least three people a day, and make sure the hug is real. You know what I mean – the awkward one armed hug that makes it seem like neither party wants to be touching the other. Make it a point to hug those that you love. A hug that lasts at least 10-20 seconds can instantly melt away the stress of the day.
A healthy lifestyle is just that: a lifestyle. It’s not a change that happens overnight, but if you make small steps towards being a healthier person each and every day, you’ll soon find that you are feeling more jubilant and energized than you ever have before. If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change, we’re ready to help. Sign up for Udemy’s course on feeling your best and join the hundreds of students on the path to a better life!