Most of the people who talk to me about wanting to get into a healthier lifestyle, or are having a hard time sticking to one all have the same sentiment about it: IT’S TOUGH. While that general notion does hold some merit, living a healthier lifestyle is not an impossible feat nor should it be as difficult as most people make it out to be.
I’m not going to sit here, put on a spotless image of a health guru, and tell you about the ways of a healthier lifestyle in black and white. Black and white is the worst way to look at anything because it doesn’t allow for much freedom – like you’re either doing it absolutely right, or doing it completely wrong. The best way to approach living a healthier lifestyle is to aim for consistent progress NOT perfection.
Two of the most common feelings people get when making lifestyle changes are GUILT and SHAME. These emotions lead to some pretty bad decisions, usually completely giving up the attempt to change, or getting so desperate for change one would resort to drastic, unhealthy means.
“The best way to approach living a healthier lifestyle is to aim for consistent progress NOT perfection.”
Tip #1: Have the right motivation.
Most people start exercising and watching what they eat to lose weight. While that’s a valid reason, it’s not the most motivating and won’t stick around in the long run. Just think about it: Your idea of progress and achievement is numbers on a scale, or fitting into a smaller size. Once you reach your goal weight, what’s left to motivate you? Or worse, if you’re not seeing the change happen fast enough or when you hit a plateau – as is the usual case with shedding pounds – you convince yourself it’s not working and give up.
Getting into a healthier lifestyle guarantees you a long, long list of benefits that go far beyond weight loss. Do it all for a healthier you, not just a better-looking you, and you’ll be more likely to stick to your resolutions.
Tip #2: Don’t deprive yourself.
When people say healthy-living is tough it’s because they make it so for themselves, when really, it’s a lot more forgiving than most people think. For example, dieting is not the same thing as starving – it’s actually about making better food choices.
- Have a decent-sized meal, but strive to make it as balanced as possible.
- Eat when you’re hungry, and eat until you’re satisfied – not stuffed.
- Go ahead and have dessert, but have just enough to get your fix.
- Carbs are not the enemy! Eating too much of anything is.
- Indulge once in a while, whether it’s fast food, chocolate, ice cream, or cake.
Don’t beat yourself up by exercising everyday. Enjoy your rest days and let your body recover. You’ll be avoiding injury and have better performance in your next workout since your muscles have rebuilt stronger versions of themselves – assuming you’ve been eating right.
Tip #3: Avoid unhealthy situations and people.
Whatever it is you’re trying to lessen or all-together quit, avoid getting yourself in tempting situations and hanging around people who may negatively influence you. For example, if you’re trying to quit smoking and your co-workers invite you to a cigarette break, don’t tempt yourself by going “just for the conversation”.
More often that not, people who have unhealthy habits respect others’ healthier choices. I haven’t met a smoker, overeater, or heavy drinker who didn’t wish they had more self-control, so expect these people to actually applaud your steps towards the right direction. Don’t let them down and show them it can be done.
Tip #4: “Out of sight, out of mind.”
If you’re the type to snack while watching TV or doing anything else sedentary, either don’t keep junk food in the house at all, or always have sliced/peeled fruits and steamed vegetables stocked in the refrigerator. This is godsend, especially with a low calorie salad dressing dip.
If you do have junk food, be sure to store it somewhere inconvenient, like a high cabinet that requires you to get a stool. The more regularly you see unhealthy food, the harder it will be to avoid them.
Tip #5: Look at exercise differently.
Most people come to me with a complaint that they just don’t have time to exercise. While I do understand the drawbacks of a busy schedule, I can’t seem to find an excuse for not allotting at least 30 minutes of your day to your choice of a heart rate-elevating activity.
“Someone busier than you is running right now.”
Look at it this way: People busier than you manage to get a workout in everyday because they know it’s for their health. The trick is to treat exercise as a part of your daily routine, the way showering in the morning is, or brushing your teeth before bed – it’s not something you have to be in the mood for, it’s something you just have to do.