We live in a fast-paced world where we are often over-worked, stressed, and fatigued. We are surrounded by unhealthy fast-food and likely sit at a desk all day long, and these things can catch up to you! When I was younger I was very active, but my lifestyle wasn't healthy. I ate a pack of Hot Fudge Sundae Poptarts and a bottle of Voltage Mountain Dew for breakfast every day, followed by pizza and cookies for lunch, and probably another Mountain Dew later in the day. I got 5 hours of sleep and was always on-the-go. I maintained this lifestyle for several years without a problem, but eventually I got run-down. I was lethargic all the time, my stomach hurt ALL THE TIME, and I required loads of caffeine to get through the day. I did not always live a healthy lifestyle! I now eat fruits and vegetables, eat more protein, drink less caffeine, and ensure I get restful sleep. I can't tell you the world of difference it has made. So if you're looking to embark in a healthy lifestyle, here are 7 tips to help you get started!
1. Make time to prepare healthy food
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! The key here is to "make time". If healthy eating is a priority, you have to act like it! I know you have an extra hour to spare in your week. I try to keep healthy food on hand at all times, because I too don't have time to cook and prepare food every day, and I know when I'm short on time or don't feel like cooking I'm more likely to grab fast food or eat leftover cold pizza if I don't have anything prepared! Every Sunday I take an hour to cook up some meat (like taco seasoned ground turkey, or chicken) and prepare some fresh produce. I always have some fresh sliced veggies like bell pepper, celery, or carrot sticks to dip in guacamole or hummus! Fruits are also a great staple to have because most of them don't require preparation. Some other good options are roasting some sweet potatoes or butternut squash to eat throughout the week as these seem to re-heat well! Pro-tip for preparing quick, healthy meals is to use a crock pot!! They save so much time.
2. Find hobbies that keep you active
A gym is not required in a healthy and fit lifestyle. There are tons of ways that you can be active and get exercise without actually doing a "workout". When you find active hobbies that you enjoy, you are much more likely to do them and be consistent. It can also be a great way to get family involved! Some of my favorite active hobbies are hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and swimming. Yes, my hobbies are a bit intense for some people, but there are so many ways you can fit activity into your own life. Another one of my favorite things, that I do every single day, is to go for a 30 minute walk while listening to a podcast or audiobook. This is a great way to multi-task and benefit your whole body as it allows you to de-stress, while exercising both your mind and body.
3. Make time for yourself
A healthy lifestyle includes both mind and body, so it's important to take time to relax and get in touch with yourself as a person. Read a book, take a bath, meditate, do whatever you gotta do to keep stress low and happiness high! We all want to help people in some capacity, but you can't help others without first helping yourself. If you're not taking care of yourself, you will eventually get run down and your ability to serve others will decrease.
4. Strive for consistency, not perfection
Small daily habits will have a much greater impact over time than trying to be perfect all of the time. When I was obsessive about fitness, my diet and training were on point all the time, and sure, I looked very fit and healthy, but it was not maintainable in the long run. Now my workouts aren't always perfect, some days I can kill a workout for an hour, some days I'm done after 20 minutes, and others I just try to go for a short walk. My diet isn't always clean, I like to follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of my meals are healthy, but about 20% of the time I indulge. This is a lifestyle, not a quick-fix or a diet, so show up daily, do what you can, and you will have a joyful, fulfilled, and healthy life.
5. Be present
Fitness and health is all about yourself, it's about making yourself better so that you can be happier and live longer. For many people it becomes an obsession, constantly thinking about their workouts, their body, and their diet, which is not a healthy way to live. You have to find balance; so in moments when you aren't focusing on fitness, make sure to be present. Enjoy the company, food, and activities around you. Soak up life. This is good for a healthy mind, and a healthy mind ultimately leads to a healthy body.
6. Go old-school
Ditch social media for a little while. There is a lot of information out there that can be daunting, over-complicated, and often mis-guided. There are also a lot of "fitspo" accounts that set unrealistic expectations and just breed comparison. So to make the transition to a healthy lifestyle a bit easier, I recommend going old-school by looking to cookbooks for healthy recipes, and seek out people in real life for inspiration and motivation. Do you have a friend or family member who also loves health and fitness? Team up with them or join a group-fitness class to find other like-minded people. Use each other as motivation instead of looking to highlight reels and photoshopped images.
7. Simply focus on moving more
Fitness doesn't have to be hard, nor does it have to be extreme. You don't have to start an intense fitness program or join a gym right away in order to be healthy. By simply finding more ways to move your body, you will be healthier. Most of us don't move enough as it is; we sit at a desk all day, only getting up to walk short distances, so any extra movement you can do is going to greatly benefit you!
Go for a walk on your lunch break, set an alarm to stand up and stretch your legs every hour (even if it's just for a minute!), take the stairs more, take a 30 minute walk with a loved one rather than watching a TV show. There are tons of ways that you can move more without putting in a lot of effort. By moving more you will feel looser, lighter, and more energetic.