When it comes to health, fleeting trends can be tempting or all we know, but they rarely deliver lasting results. With so many conflicting sources, determining what’s beneficial and sustainable can be overwhelming. We’re committed to providing clarity amidst the chaos. By focusing on evidence-based, time-honored practices, this guide aims to help you set the foundation for a long-lasting, healthy lifestyle!
What Does a Healthy Lifestyle Look Like?
Living a healthy lifestyle is a phrase laced through pop culture. I’d argue that everyone has heard it and feel like they know exactly what it means. I’ve found that most of the time, the actual concept has been twisted to include body shaming, over-expensive solutions promoting weight loss, or click-bate headlines for gimmicks and wife’s tales that have eroded the self-esteem and confidence of millions of people who desperately are looking for answers to take control of their health.
The real answer in living a healthy lifestyle is that it is determined by the state of equilibrium in our bodies—homeostasis. This is our body’s inherent ability to adjust and stabilize its internal environment. When we speak of a healthy lifestyle, we refer to the choices that help maintain this balance.
Every choice you make, from the time you decide to go to sleep and wake up, the food you eat, the amount of screen time you have, to the way you manage stress—all contribute to this equilibrium. It’s the daily rituals, habits, and behaviors that either support or disrupt this delicate balance.
Leading a healthy lifestyle means finding ways that you enjoy to honor your health-focused decisions and staying committed to your goal consistently. It’s about being aware, being proactive, and prioritizing your well-being. It’s the ultimate self-care.
Why Temporary Health Fixes Fail
It’s easy to get caught up in the promise of quick results. Headlines shout about losing weight in just a few days or getting fit with minimal effort. But let’s face it, if these quick fixes truly worked, we wouldn’t see them replaced by new ones every other week.
The truth is that health can’t be fast-tracked. It’s not about short bursts of effort but consistent, long-term commitment.
When you choose a trendy health fix or a fad diet, you’re opting for a solution that’s not sustainable. These quick solutions often ignore the basics of nutrition and well-being and are often harmful.
Fad diets often lead to yo-yo dieting, which can strain your heart and metabolism. They can also leave you feeling deprived and hungry, leading to overeating later on or even disordered eating. Most importantly, they don’t address the core issue: developing a healthy relationship with food and your body. This isn’t always about calorie restriction either, but many trending themed diets that cut out food groups or certain foods that hold nutritional content labeled in the media as “bad.”
Steering clear of quick fixes for your health may not promise overnight results, but it sets you up for a lifetime of health and happiness.
When starting something new, everyone faces setbacks. Whether it’s a missed workout, overindulging, or simply feeling off track, it’s a common part of the process. Don’t let this discourage you. Setbacks don’t define your journey; your response does.
Setbacks are not failures. Removing this stigma and reframing them to be temporary pauses or deviations from the plan means you can get back on track without being weighed down by guilt or disappointment.
Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, focus on the next step. You can always make a healthier choice in the present moment. All it takes is getting back to basics. Reassessing your goals, motivations, and strategies can help you find your way back on plan.
Being adaptable is key. What worked for you a month ago might not work now, and that’s okay. Adjusting your approach based on current circumstances can make your path more sustainable.
Embrace the journey because it’s normal to have ups and downs, especially when making significant changes in your lifestyle.
Mental Wellbeing Habits for Lasting Wellness
When we talk about health, we’re not just talking about the physical aspects. Your mind plays an equal role. Total well-being encompasses your whole being working in harmony.
Your mind, with its intricate neural networks and neurotransmitter activities, is an integral component of overall well-being. When the mind flourishes, the body follows suit.
Do you tend to skip on sleep when you want some ‘me’ time or when things get stressful? This habit has a major impact on your health and is often the most overlooked. During deep REM sleep, your body is hard at work restoring and repairing both your mind and body. Not getting a full 8 hours will impact your physical, cognitive and emotional performances.
Chronic stress is also a health killer. If left unmanaged, the increased cortisol levels will interfere with your bodily functions, impacting everything from your metabolism to your immune responses. While stress is an inevitable part of life, developing techniques to manage it is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Whether through mindful meditation (which increases gray matter density in the brain, helping improve your resilience) or simply engaging in your favorite activities that deepen your relaxation, effective stress management can’t be overstated.
Intentional activities to maintain mental well-being—like practicing gratitude or fostering social connections—can also have biochemical benefits. Positive interactions and thoughts can stimulate the release of serotonin and oxytocin, promoting feelings of happiness and social bonding. This makes your lifestyle changes more sustainable because you’re less likely to be overwhelmed.
True health is holistic. By including your mental wellness in your health goals, you set the stage for long-term results.
Physical Habits for Lasting Wellness
Physical activity is often viewed as a synonym for health, and it’s understandable why. To maintain our homeostatic harmony, physical movement and exercise are essential, though that doesn’t mean you need to become an athlete overnight.
Regular exercise strengthens muscles and boosts cardiovascular health but also aids in regulating metabolic processes and releasing endorphins (those feel-good hormones that elevate mood and reduce stress). Living a sedentary lifestyle can take years off your life and really limit what your body is capable of.
Prioritizing your physical fitness does mean prioritizing a balance to achieve a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Jumping headfirst into a too-intense routine without proper preparation increases the risk of injuries. Plus, overexerting can lead to burnout, both mentally and physically.
Listen to your body. Start slow and incrementally increase the intensity. This assures muscle and joint safety but also allows your body to adapt and progress without strain. Proper pacing and rest periods facilitate recovery, and during these rest phases, cells repair, and muscles grow stronger.
Aim for consistency paired with mindfulness. Strive for regular, moderate movement rather than sporadic, intense bursts. Every step you take towards physical wellness aids in the grander goal: a balanced, healthy lifestyle for the long run (no pun intended!).
Nutritional Habits for Lasting Wellness
Just because you’re focusing on living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to eat salads for the rest of your life. Getting proper nutrition can be delicious and there are countless creators making healthy, nutritious (and even cheap!) recipes and tutorials more accessible than ever.
In your new lifestyle, make sure the food choices you consume do more than just fill your stomach because your dietary choices play a huge role in determining how you feel physically and emotionally and how you function.
Eating Smart: Nutrition Basics
Understanding the basics of the foods you eat means you can make more informed, balanced choices that align with your health goals.
Everything that you eat will have a macronutrient profile that covers the vitamins, minerals, and properties within it. You’re most likely familiar with seeing this in the form of a nutrition label. These will be your best friends.
You will want to make sure you don’t leave out any macronutrients when you’re meal planning:
Proteins: The building blocks needed for our body’s growth, maintenance, and repair. When we consume protein, our body breaks it down into amino acids, which are then used to help our muscles recover and grow, to produce enzymes and hormones, and to support overall cell function.
It’s recommended that 10-35% of your daily caloric intake comes from protein.
Fats: Often getting a bad name, they are far from being the enemy. Fats play an indispensable role in our body. They act as energy reserves, contribute to brain health, and are integral for absorbing certain vitamins. While fats are calorie-dense, providing more than double the energy of proteins or carbohydrates per gram, they’re particularly great during prolonged physical activity. Just be mindful that not all fats are created equal. Prioritizing healthy fats is key.
Fats should account for 20-35% of your total caloric intake.
Carbohydrates: You do not need to stay away from carbs! We just needed to get that straight. Carbohydrates serve as the primary fuel for our bodies. They power everything from our daily routines to our most intense physical activities. When consumed, carbs are broken down into glucose, which is then used by our cells for energy. While we often hear about carbs in the context of weight gain, the truth is that the type of carbohydrate matters. Aim for integrating complex carbohydrates, as opposed to simple sugars as they release glucose gradually, providing steady and prolonged energy without the sharp spikes.
Aim for carbs to make up 45-65% of your daily calories.
When serving yourself a meal, you need to also consider portion sizes. A balanced plate should look half filled with vegetables, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables.
Regularly consuming more calories than your body needs can lead to weight gain, so it’s important to be mindful of portions, especially in today’s world of oversized servings. The suggested daily calorie consumption is approximately 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men, but individual needs may vary based on factors like age, activity level, and metabolism. Above all, listen to your body, and adjust based on how you feel and your specific health goals.
Debunking Healthy Eating Myths
There are so many trends and myths that have floated around about what is best practice to get fit and healthy. Some are new, some have been around for years, but they aren’t helpful for a sustainable lifestyle, and some can actually be really harmful to your health. Below are some common myths debunked:
“Fats are bad for you.” This generalization overlooks the essential nature of fats in our diet. Fats contribute to brain health, hormone production, and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. While trans fats, often found in processed foods, can be detrimental to heart health, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from sources like nuts, seeds, and fish have been shown to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
“Carbs make you gain weight.” Carbohydrates aren’t intrinsically fattening. They serve as the primary energy source for our body. It’s the type, quality, and quantity that matter. Whole, unrefined carbs like quinoa, oats, and other whole grains have fiber that helps stabilize blood sugar levels, contrasting with the rapid spikes caused by refined carbs.
“Fruit is off-limits due to its sugar content.” It’s a misconception to lump the natural sugars in fruits with refined sugars. While fruits contain fructose, they also provide essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. The fiber in fruit slows the release of its natural sugars into the bloodstream, preventing the rapid spikes associated with refined sugars. The phytonutrients in fruits, combined with their vitamins and minerals, make them a healthful choice. Rather than avoiding fruit, it’s more beneficial to understand portion sizes and consume them as part of a balanced diet.
“Raw food diets are superior.” Raw foods can retain certain enzymes lost in cooking. However, some vegetables, when cooked, release more of specific nutrients. For example, cooking tomatoes increases the lycopene content, an antioxidant beneficial for heart health.
“Keto is the best weight-loss diet.” The ketogenic diet emphasizes high fats and low carbs, leading to rapid initial weight loss. Extended adherence can deprive you of essential nutrients found in restricted foods, but its restrictive nature makes it challenging for so many people to maintain over a good duration of time. You will often see people relapse and regain the weight they initially lost.
“Dairy is necessary for strong bones.” While dairy is a source of calcium, many non-dairy foods like leafy greens, fortified plant milk, almonds, and sesame seeds also provide large amounts of calcium. It’s more about ensuring adequate calcium intake rather than the source.
“All calories are equal.” Not all calories have the same nutritional value. For example, 200 calories from a sugary drink lack the nutrients and satiety that 200 calories from a plate of vegetables provide.
“Eating eggs raises cholesterol.” While eggs do contain cholesterol, they have a minimal effect on blood cholesterol for most people. Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse, providing high-quality protein and essential nutrients.
Top 10 Tips for Consistency
Achieving a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a conscious choice to make baby steps and follow through with your promise to yourself. These steps below will make it even easier to make this a lifestyle change instead of an unsustainable quick fix:
- Personalize Your Routine: Everyone’s life is unique. Design routines that align with your personal and professional schedules, making them easier to stick to.
- Track Your Progress: Utilize technology like health apps or go traditional with a diary. Monitoring your progress helps identify strengths and areas to work on.
- Discipline Over Motivation: While motivation can be a driving force initially, it’s discipline that ensures longevity in maintaining healthy habits. You will learn to trust yourself by keeping your promise, and your self-confidence will also soar!
- Plan Ahead: Whether it’s scheduling your workouts or prepping meals, planning minimizes the scope for impulsive, unhealthy choices.
- Understand Your ‘Why’: Your reason for embarking on a healthy journey will be your guiding star, especially during challenging times. Keep it at the forefront of your mind.
- Stay Adaptable: Life throws curveballs. Your approach to health and wellness should be flexible to accommodate unexpected changes. Adjust and pivot as needed. If you have an off day, just get back on the ‘horse.’
- Seek Support: Engage in community activities or groups that share your health goals. This network can provide encouragement and accountability.
- Educate Yourself: Continuous learning about health, nutrition, and fitness can empower you to make informed decisions.
- Rest and Recover: It’s not just about constant activity. Recognizing the need for rest is essential and not ‘lazy’. Sleep, relaxation, and downtime play pivotal roles in a comprehensive wellness approach.
- Celebrate Small Wins: Every step you take towards your goal, no matter how tiny, is progress. Acknowledge and celebrate these moments. They serve as reminders of your capabilities and fuel for the journey ahead.
Life is filled with trends that come and go, but your health? That’s forever. Make it count by moving past the noise of headlines, boasting temporary health solutions and embracing changes that nurture your body and soul for the long haul.
Looking for more ways to live a healthier, happier life? Book a Consultation Call for a tailored health plan!