You want to get healthy but you’re clueless on all matters healthy living…
Should I avoid carbs?
What even is a quinoa?
Walking to the fridge and back counts as exercise, right?!
Don’t worry guys, I’ve got your back! Today I’m sharing with you what is in my opinion (and from what I’ve learnt from personal experience), the most important things you need to know to start living a healthier lifestyle right now.
However, before we get into that, I feel like I should quickly talk about what it actually means to be healthy. I believe in a holistic approach to health, where you’re balanced and well physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. No matter how many green juices you drink, you’re not truly healthy if you spend your whole life stressing over anything and everything… You know what I mean? So this post is going to cover everything from nutrition tips to mindset adjustments!
Ok, let’s get on with it shall we?
aim for progress, not perfection
Without sounding like Hannah Montana, nobody’s perfect. Trying to eat ‘perfectly’ all the time is just not realistic, all it will do is frustrate you and cause you to feel guilty when you eat anything not so healthy. It may even result in bingeing, you know, the whole “you have to eat perfectly all the time and if you stuff up, well then, there’s no coming back from that, so you might as well eat the entire contents of your fridge” thing. Ok, so perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration but you get the picture. If you indulge here and there, just ENJOY it. Food is a guilt-free zone guys! There may even be times when you fall off the health bandwagon for a couple of days, heck even weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep adding to it and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re not ‘cut out’ for living a healthier lifestyle. It simply means you’re human. Even as a future dietitian myself, I have times where I indulge perhaps a little too much (such as this week – I made some goodies for my boyfriend’s birthday and well, they were too good not to eat ha!), but that’s perfectly ok. I go back to making healthier choices afterwards and that’s what counts.
set realistic goals
So we’ve covered that eating perfectly just isn’t realistic. Now let’s set some more suitable goals. I mean, if you want to go cold turkey and that works for you then be my guest. However, for most people, especially those of you out there whose lives are currently far from healthy, you will want to make a gradual lifestyle change. I think a great way to do this is to pick a bad habit that you want to drop or a positive habit that you’d like to gain every month and really focus on it. Research shows that it takes about 30 days for a habit to develop (depending on what the habit is of course) so by the end of the month, you should be ready to gain another healthy habit.
Seeing as it’s conveniently the start of August tomorrow, why don’t you pick out a bad habit to drop or a healthy habit to gain for each month in the remainder of this year, making 5 potential new habits? Here are some ideas:
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Limit coffee intake to one cup per day
- Reduce takeout to once per week or fortnight
- Drink 8 glasses of water every day
- Increase your fruit intake
- Increase your vegetable intake
- Focus on the positives
- Distance yourself from negative influences
- Walk at least 10,000 steps per day
- Make a healthy morning routine and stick to it
- Do daily meditation, even if it’s just for 5 minutes!
- Limit your sugar intake
- Get in at least 30 minutes of cardio every day
- Do some form of muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week
- Get in 8 hours of sleep per night
- Learn how to cook at least five new recipes
Let me know in the comments what habits you’re going to work on!
ditch the fad dieting
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now you would have heard this a billion times already but I’m going to say it again – ditch the fad diets!!! The only time someone should be on a restrictive diet is if it’s for a medical condition. For the rest of you, just eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods. Think complex grains, fruits, vegetable, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean mean, poultry and dairy (obviously not the last three options if you’re vegetarian or vegan). If you’re mission is to lose weight, believe it or not, but restricting yourself of food will have the opposite effect over time (I’ve talked all about this in my recent post Count Nutrients, Not Calories). That, and it’s totally not sustainable.
there is no ‘right’ way to eat
Unfortunately there are lots of diets out there claiming to be the best for your health. Truth be told, there is no such thing as a perfect diet for everyone. It’s simply impossible. We are all entirely different. From our genetic makeup to our metabolism and even our gut microbiome – we are just as unique on the inside as we are on the outside. With that said, it’s crazy to think that what works for one person will work for everyone else. It just won’t. So what are you to do? Well, the best way to go about this is to just eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods and start actually listening to your body. Pay attention to when you are hungry and eat until you are comfortably full. Notice how certain foods make you feel and go from there. Perhaps you do well with eating more healthy fats (similar to the Mediterranean diet) or perhaps your body thrives off including more complex carbs? Over time, you’ll learn what types of food, portions and ratios make you feel energized and ahhh-mazing!
aim for each meal to include carbohydrates, protein and fat
Complex carbohydrates, lean high-quality protein and healthy fats, to be more specific. Research shows that these three macronutrients (fyi: carbs, fats, protein are all referred to as different types of macronutrients) all have different roles, each just as important for your health as the next. So, to get all the benefits, try to get all three in each of your meals.
[ Quinoa Porridge recipe here! Protein: quinoa, Carbohydrates: Strawberries, Fats: LSA mix ]
you don’t have to be a master chef to eat healthily
One of the biggest differences when you’re trying to eat healthier is ditching the processed food for the whole food. Obviously with this, comes actually having to cook your food yourself. Which, for some of you, might be a terrifying thought ha! But I promise you, it doesn’t have to be hard. All you need to know is the basics like sautéing/roasting/steaming veggies, grilling/roasting lean meat, cooking grains like brown rice. I’m a big believer in making healthy eating as simple and fuss-free as possible, so you’ll find a lot of the recipes I share on here are super simple. I never used to be a confident cook either, so don’t you worry, over time you will get the hang of it and see how easy it is. Also, don’t get discouraged if your food doesn’t look like those works-of-art foodie meals you see on Instagram, those have been carefully styled; most people’s meals don’t look like that!
healthy eating is not about deprivation
People think of healthy eating and automatically think of restrictive diets. They are not the same thing, far from it actually. Your body needs nutrients and energy to function properly and where do you get those? You guessed it, food. Glorious, food.
People also seem to think that healthy eating means you can’t eat your favorite foods anymore. I’ll let you in on a little secret, I LOVE pizza and I still eat it regularly. The difference is, I make a healthy version. Now before you roll your eyes ha, hear me out, the healthy versions nearly always taste better than the junk food versions, I promise. Plus, they don’t leave you feeling gross and they actually fuel your body with nutrients that aid in nourishing your body. Luckily, there is a healthy version of practically every type of food out there.
[ Oh and I love pasta too. Tips: chuck some baby spinach leaves on top, try using a rice/vegetable pasta every know and then to change things up and make a homemade mince/sauce and grate zucchini and carrots into it, trust me, you won’t even know they’re there! ]
move your body
Guess what? Being healthy doesn’t require endless hours in the gym like a lot of people think! Each day, just make sure you are moving your body in some way, whether it be walking, running, swimming, dancing, yoga, resistance training, or even increasing your incidental exercise. Try out some of the following tips:
- Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, it doesn’t have to be all about the treadmill if that doesn’t appeal to you.
- Change up the type of exercise regularly so you don’t get bored
- Every week always try to get a balance of both cardio and strength-training exercises.
- You don’t necessarily need a gym to get fit, go to a park or watch some free at-home workout videos on YouTube (Seriously, YouTube is the bomb-diggity for workouts).
- Stretch it out. This is really important to prevent injury, especially if you’re not used to being active.
- If you have friends that also want to get healthy, go for exercise dates instead of, or before, your coffee date.
- Take the stairs instead of the lift/escalator.
- Park your car further away from your destination so that you have to walk further.
- Have a ritual where you do some quick little exercises every time you do particular activities. For example, do some squats (or any other leg exercises whilst) brushing your teeth or doing your hair or whilst waiting for something to cook. It may not seem like much, but it certainly adds up throughout the day!
…. And if you need any motivation, I have you sorted, check out my post 13 ways to motivate yourself to workout.
REMEMBER: any exercise is better than none. Over time you’ll be able to increase the length and intensity of your workouts. Just move your body, it’s as simple as that.
make the time
Your life won’t change until you change what you do on a daily basis. If you want to be healthy and fit you will have to set aside time each day to work towards it. Maybe you need to wake up an hour earlier to get in some exercise and/or pack healthy meals for the day? Perhaps reconsider your priorities and cut down on current activities to make room for new ones.
Grab a piece of paper: Write down all the activities (sleep, work, uni, hobbies, spending time with family/friends, cleaning, watching t.v. etc.) you typically do on a weekly basis and next to them write down approximately how many hours you spend on each activity a week. You may even have to keep record of this because we tend to overestimate certain activities like working. Now, there’s 168 hours in a week, so subtract the hours spent on each activity and what do you have leftover? If you don’t like what you see, whether it’s the hours spent on particular activities or even the activities themselves, change it! If you have time leftover for exercising/cooking then great! If not, do some re-arranging. It’s important to be mindful of your hours, because they will go by regardless, it’s up to you to make the most of them. Really knuckle down on what your priorities are and where you want to be in the future.
For something so simple, it makes the biggest difference. If you’re anything like me and need reminders to stay hydrated, there are apps you can download that send you notifications as well as record your water intake. I’d also highly recommend carrying a water bottle in your bag wherever you go and keeping a glass/bottle of water on your bedside table and drinking it first thing in the morning.
The connection between our body and mind is SO important, yet it’s nearly always overlooked. A little stress now and again is fine, but constant stress can have a significant impact on your health, from putting pressure on your heart to wreaking havoc on your digestive system. Seeing as stress is something I’ve had to work hard on managing, I wrote up not one but two posts on how to manage your stress levels so go check them out here and here.
distance yourself from negativity
You want to be improving yourself and moving in a positive direction, but that’s a bit hard to do if you are engulfed in negativity. So, distance yourself from people who bring you down, replace your own negative self-talk with something positive (literally, as soon as you realise you’re saying something bad about yourself, replace it with a compliment), refrain from being judgmental, cut down on the news (it’s important to stay informed, but constantly watching upsetting news isn’t doing you any good), ‘unfollow’ social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and try not to compare yourself to others. Basically, let go of anything that doesn’t nourish you and add to your growth. My most recent Wednesday Wisdom quote summarized this so well, print it out and memorize it ha!
improve your relationship with food
If you feel guilty after eating certain foods, binge, over-exercise to punish yourself from eating ‘something you shouldn’t have’ and/or you’ve attempted every crazy fad-diet or trend out there, then chances are you don’t have the best relationship with food. Having a healthy relationship is vital in living a healthy lifestyle. It’s so important that I’ve started a series called ‘How to Heal Your Relationship With Food’. Your can find the first couple of installments here and here.
do it for the right reasons
You have to want to live a healthy lifestyle and respect your body enough to take the time and effort to nourish it. Having the mind-set of ‘wanting to get skinny because you hate your body’ will only set you up for failure. Sure, wanting to improve your body can be amazing motivation, but you also have to love your body how it is RIGHT NOW to be able to happily do this for the long haul. If not, you will view eating healthy and exercising as punishment for your current body, when it fact you should be nourishing it because you love it and appreciate everything it does for you every second of every day. Got it?! No more hateful self-talk! Your body keeps you alive and allows you do to do not only the simplest of tasks we take for granted, but also unbelievable, miraculous feats so be nice to it!!
Phew! That was a long post. If you stuck around this long, then you are amazing and already taking the steps towards a healthier, happier you and for that you should be so proud.
I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend! Make sure you do something that your future self will thank you for 🙂 xo