Although there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan to a healthy life, more and more studies are showing the best way to ensure good lifelong health is pretty straightforward:
● Make changes to your diet and exercise routine.
● Learn how to manage stress.
After years in this industry studying, trying different things, and working with people of all backgrounds and body types, we have to agree with the research. There is no quick fix – no matter who you are, getting healthy means making a commitment to change your nutrition, fitness, and mindset. We call this the “Wellness Triangle.”
What exactly does this look like for you? What specific changes do you think you need to make in your life to be healthier? We recommend working one-on-one with a fitness professional to come up with the best plan of action for you. However, there are some general guidelines anyone can follow for a healthier lifestyle.
Here are three tips for each leg of your Wellness Triangle:
● Eat Whole Foods
While each person needs a different amount of calories and nutrients, a good general rule for your diet is that it should consist of whole, unprocessed foods, such as vegetables, fruits, proteins, fats, and grains. Avoid chemically processed foods – foods that have been altered in some way to make them more shelf-stable, convenient, and/or flavorful for consumers – which commonly contain added sugar, sodium, and fat.
It’s important to note that not all processed foods are unhealthy. Canned tuna, yogurt, unsweetened apple sauce, and frozen fruits and vegetables are all examples of healthy processed foods. The key is avoiding processed foods with artificial ingredients, unhealthy fats, and additives – which means you may need to start reading nutrition labels.
● Plan Your Meals.
Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle or increase athletic performance, meal planning is essential to your success. Setting aside some time each week to plan your meals and prepare them keeps you on track with your nutrition plan and can make a huge difference in your health – and your wallet. Focus on preparing meals that are tasty, healthy, quick, and cheap!
● Drink More Water and Less Alcohol.
It’s pretty much impossible to overstate how important it is to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water (ideally about 64 ounces or eight glasses each day) helps you flush out toxins, curb your appetite, and boost your energy, among other benefits. In fact, your liver can only process about one glass of alcohol per hour. Any excess, and those toxins will enter the bloodstream.
Alcohol is full of empty calories and hard on your liver, so any reduction in the amount you’re drinking is good. If you don’t drink alcohol, maybe you drink soda or flavored lattes or vanilla soy milk or fruit juice. Whatever it is, if it has sugar, cutting down on the amount you consume is going to make a difference in your health.
● Walk Whenever Possible.
Research is showing us just how terrible sitting all day can be for our health. If you’re leading a sedentary lifestyle at work, try to make small changes like parking farther away from the office, taking the stairs, getting a standing desk, or going for a short walk during your lunch break. Outside of work, make the effort to travel by foot instead of by car whenever possible.
● Exercise More.
There’s no way around it – you have to get moving if you want to stay healthy. One of the easiest ways to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine is to find a physical activity that you enjoy. For some people, that means personal training or group workout classes, but for others, that means chasing after the kids in the yard, dancing to Beyoncé in the living room, or going for a hike with the dog. Of course, some activities burn more calories than others, but unless you’re overtraining, any time you get up and move around, you’re doing your body good.
● Invite a Friend.
Being active with other people can provide support and make physical activity more fun, which increases the odds that you’ll stick with your exercise program.
● Figure Out Your “Why.”
Sit down and ask yourself why you want to live a healthier lifestyle. Is it because you want to relieve pain? Reduce your risk of disease? Live longer? Identifying what motivates you is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve your goals and create a life you enjoy living.
● Keep Good Company.
Stop stressing out about what everyone thinks of you, and focus on surrounding yourself with those who love and support you. Did you know, you are yo the average of the five people you spend the most time with? We only have so much time on this earth! People who are bringing you down aren’t worth the time or energy.
● Give Back.
Making a difference in someone else’s life is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. Try to work more compassionate, selfless acts into your life. Volunteer with a non-profit, help your friend move, or do something as small as holding a door for someone. You’ll be surprised by how much giving back impacts your mindset and stress level.
No one changes overnight. Instead of trying to boost your health with a huge makeover, start with one or more of these practical tips. Then continue to set new goals, breaking them down into small steps that help you get there. Remember that you are human, and learning to live a healthier lifestyle is a process!
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