If the words “healthy lifestyle” conjure up celery sticks and killing yourself on the treadmill, boy, have we got a surprise for you today! Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself or living longer, more miserable years.
In fact, when you embrace the principles of healthy lifestyles, you’ll quickly discover that you enjoy life more and are excited to wake up each morning and start your day! Below, we’re sharing our five best healthy lifestyle tips for finding wellness and joy in every area of your life.
We’ll help you understand the science behind each idea as well as easy ways to get started.
1. Set Goals the Smart Way
It sounds strange, but learning how to set goals is the most foundational principle in this list when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what we mean: you’re going to be so fired up by the time you finish this article that you’ll be ready to purchase a gym membership, throw out all your oreos, and grab bunches of kale at the grocery store.
The trouble is, these kind of giant goals just aren’t sustainable in the short-term. Common statistics say that only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, and the reason is that most people try to do everything, starting January 1. That kind of sweeping change, however, is exhausting and sets you up for failure, causing you to believe that you can’t make a change.
It’s ok to have a huge goal but make sure you start with a tiny change and practice that change until it becomes a routine. For example, maybe you want to run a marathon, but you’re not currently a runner. Start by walking once or twice a week for 15-20 minutes and work up to walking most days.
After you’ve made a daily walk part of your routine, start making your walks longer or start adding short sprints or bursts of running. Small, sustainable changes are a thousand times better than big changes you just can’t keep up.
If you want to reach your healthy lifestyle goals, find an accountability partner, a group, or a buddy. Studies have found that we’re influenced by healthy people around us to be healthier, ourselves, and they’ve also found that we’re more likely to stick to our fitness regimens when we’re working out with a partner. Plus, it’s just more fun!
2. Get Moving
Physical exercise is crucial to creating a healthy lifestyle. Exercise doesn’t just help us look better; it plays a vital role in keeping us physically and mentally healthy. Scientists have found that regular physical activity prevents heart disease and decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Plus, it helps cut back on weight, which we know is linked to high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and increased risks of heart attacks and even strokes.
It’s not just heart health; exercise has been shown to promote your mental health, as well. Did you know that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for people with major depressive disorder? That’s what James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University, found recently.
We’re not telling you to drop your medication, but we are suggesting you find a fitness regimen you love. Here are a few tips:
- If you don’t like the first exercise you do, try another one! So many people get frustrated after trying two or three different exercise regimens and think they just don’t like exercising. The truth is, however, that there’s something for everyone. Don’t like running? Try kayaking! Don’t like individual sports? Try joining a soccer league! Don’t like being outdoors? Try an indoor sport, like pickleball!
- Keep in mind that you’re changing your life to permanently incorporate this new habit, not just trying to make something happen for a month. Inevitably, you’ll have setbacks, but if you can expect those, you’ll be able to plan for them. The true test of success is getting back up after you fall and trying again!
3. Good Nutrition
It’s not simply physical activity that makes a difference; our diets play a huge role in whether or not we’re living a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, in spite of (and maybe because of) the dizzying array of nutrition plans, choices, and styles available, nutrition can feel incredibly complicated.
But it doesn’t have to be. Guess what else it doesn’t have to be? Miserable! We have some great tips for embracing healthy nutrition in a way that makes you happier and healthier. Again, keep in mind that we’re trying to make a lasting change, not just starve ourselves into a skinnier frame of mind for a few weeks!
One of our best tips is about mindset. A recent study found that, when presented with an unhealthy food option, people were more likely to resist when they told themselves, “I don’t eat that” as opposed to “I can’t eat that.”
Did you catch that one little word? “Can’t” signals to our brains that somebody else is telling us what to do and that we’re being deprived, but dropping it tells our brains, “this is my lifestyle. I make healthy choices.”
Here are some other tips:
- Read your labels! Don’t read the front of the box; instead, flip it over and read the ingredient list. If it’s got more than five or six ingredients, and you can’t pronounce most of those ingredients, you can be sure it’s filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients, and other things that aren’t doing your body any favors.
- Watch out for sugar. Sugar hides in forms such as “high fructose corn syrup” and has been tied to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and many more problems. It can also be incredibly addicting and very sneaky.
- Embrace the rainbow. Food can be incredibly fun. Shop the outside of the supermarket, focusing on the produce section. Not only can the rainbow of fruits and vegetables be delicious, but it’s also incredibly healthy!
4. Embrace Community
Friendships aren’t often considered when you’re trying to build a healthy lifestyle. In fact, your social and emotional wellbeing is a vital part of your overall wellness. If you want to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, you have to address the issues holding you back from contributing to a vital community, and receiving all the love and support that entails.
One of our best tips is to find a therapist. A good counselor can help you become aware of your emotions and learn how to express them in a way that’s healthy for you and the people around you. Plus, a counselor can help you identify and treat trauma from past relationships.
Our second tip is to start developing deep, strong friendships by joining a club, team, group, or some other institution that creates an opportunity for common interests, consistent time together, and a shared purpose to converge.
Whether it’s volunteering at your favorite nonprofit together or sharing your favorite books together in a book club, shared interests can be just what you need to grow into a healthier lifestyle.
5. Rest Is a Good Four-Letter Word
We have more technology at our disposal than ever before; unfortunately, it’s not making us any happier! In fact, in an age of social media and connection via our devices, many of us are more lonely than ever before.
Part of the problem is that all that tech discourages us from resting. Did you know that technology can make your perception of time speed up? It’s true! Try unplugging for a weekend. Leave your phone at home, unplug the cable box, or just invite some people over and encourage everyone to leave their phones at the door.
You might be a little anxious at first, but you’ll soon be amazed at how relaxed you feel. Plus, scientists have found that screen time in the hours before bed can inhibit our rest. So, instead of reading a book on your device, try cracking open the real thing!
Here are some other natural solutions you can try to help you fall asleep faster, better:
- Take a warm bath or shower before bed
- Try soothing essential oils, such as lavender and bergamot
- Take a natural, non-addictive supplement, such as melatonin
- Utilize blackout curtains and keep the room cool
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve. In fact, by paying attention to our tips on goal-setting, physical exercise, proper nutrition, community, and rest, you’ll be well on your way to healthy living in no time!
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