One of the foundations of personal development is a healthy lifestyle. There is no way a person can improve their life without taking care of their health first. Health enables us to live comfortably, and without it, life cannot be enjoyed even if one has the best resources in the world. One of the biggest challenges people face is dealing with different diseases, but it is no excuse for not achieving optimal health. Achieving this goal may call for a total lifestyle shift, which is not an easy thing to do but worth it in the long-run. There are many ways on how to start a healthy lifestyle for beginners.
Starting a healthy lifestyle accounts for even the smallest things, such as eating good food, doing physical exercise, and getting a good amount of sleep daily. It sounds simple, but it is actually easier said than done. It all depends on how much someone wants to change their life. Many people are busy and yet get to accomplish a healthy living.
Remember that no matter who you are or what you do, your life must always come first, and when it is gone, you can’t get it back. So take the necessary steps and start a healthy lifestyle.
How to Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle?
Wondering how to start a healthy lifestyle from scratch? Below are some of the things to take into consideration before you walk down this path:
- Identify the bad/unhealthy habits to change. You cannot change without knowing the habits in need of correction. Identify unhealthy habits, and for each, list the reasons why you want to change (3).
- Hold yourself accountable for making those changes. These changes affect your life, so don’t blame others for not being able to institute them. It is a promise to yourself that is rewarded with good health and satisfaction.
- Eliminate all negative triggers in your life. Negative triggers can take you down a bad road and should never be tolerated. If alcohol makes you crave a cigarette, then it may be time to give up alcohol.
- Believe that you can change. Positivity is the key when starting a healthy lifestyle. Otherwise, you will not be successful without it.
- Accept that it will take time, and there may be setbacks on the way. Change is never easy, and there may be days of relapse. Don’t dwell on the occasional failure but continue working hard towards a lifelong commitment.
- Make a plan with realistic goals and take baby steps. You won’t be able to change to a healthy lifestyle without having a plan in place. Set goals for specific tasks because they give you something to work for and motivate you once you accomplish them (2).
Deciding to transform your life completely must be done carefully and with a plan. Below is how to start a healthy lifestyle for beginners:
Change your eating habits
You know what they say. What goes in is what you get out. The foundation of a healthy life is a nourishing diet. If you get your diet right, there may not be any need for medicine because your body will be healthy (2).
The biggest challenge with changing eating habits is giving up your favorite foods such as chocolate cake or cheese-loaded pizza. Eliminating them may be difficult, but you can save them for occasional treats and not everyday life. This is how to start a healthy lifestyle change.
Several diets can help individuals lose weight fast, but the problem with those is that there is always the risk of gaining the weight back later. The best solution has to do with cleaning out your existing diet without having to compromise much on the foods that you love.
The concept of clean eating ought to entail more of a lifestyle as opposed to just a diet. A diet change alone is a simplistic approach to healthy living, and it cannot achieve desired results without a range of other things. To do this right, you must have a grasp of what healthy eating is.
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What is healthy eating?
The simple definition of healthy eating is to become more conscious of what you put into your body as opposed to just being a slave of your craving for instant gratification from sugary or salty and processed foods. Healthy eating is all about minding what you eat and having the discipline to resist the temptation of junk food (most of the time) (5).
Healthy eating should provide your body with the required nutrition it needs. In order to do that, it is good to have a meal plan. Ensure that your meal has a different variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein to achieve a balanced diet. You might need the advice of an expert to know how to start a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Foods to avoid/reduce in your diet:
By now, you ought to be aware that junk foods are the greatest enemy of your body. Try to get rid of all the junk foods that do not provide any nutritional value no matter how sweet they are, like (7):
- Highly processed foods
- Foods that have trans fat (cakes, fried salty snacks, doughnuts, etc.)
- Sugary drinks and sodas
- Fast food
- Foods that contain artificial flavors
Foods to add instead:
Many healthy, nutritious, and tasty foods can replace all the junk foods above. Most of the healthy options are those foods that are less processed and with fewer additives. If you don’t know where or how to start a healthy lifestyle and lose weight, begin by adding foods such as:
- Lean protein
- Healthy fats (nuts, avocados, fatty fish, etc.)
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole foods (foods that are unprocessed, unrefined, and without any additives)
Simple swap technique
Ever wondered how to start a healthy lifestyle at 27 or any age? Develop the habit of doing a simple swap whenever you have a craving for sugary or junk foods. For instance, if you feel like eating a cake or some other bakery food, you can grab a fruit instead or even prepare a refreshing salad. This simple swap technique may be the perfect way for you to start a healthy lifestyle journey (5).
Gradually introduce healthy eating habits into your daily life by taking one meal at a time and one day at a time.
Prepare healthy make-ahead snacks
Your environment plays a big role in influencing what you eat. If for instance, you go to the supermarket when you are hungry, you might only end up buying packaged foods that you may not have intended to buy in the first place. Such foods do not add any nutritional value to your body other than empty calories. There is no better plan on how to start a healthy lifestyle and stick to it other than taking the time to prepare your meals at home (11).
The remedy for this is to resist the urge to buy pre-packaged snacks. In place of that, you can prepare healthy snacks at home, which require only a few ingredients and no cooking. If you are short on time, look for conveniently pre-portioned healthy snacks like hummus and cut-up veggies or yogurt and fruit or berries. Why stock your pantry with fried chips or other junk that you purchased from the supermarket when you can place only healthy food ingredients at the comfort of your home?
Instill in yourself the discipline to have no other option other than the healthy snacks you prepared at home for when you are hungry. You can also stock nuts like almonds and cashew in containers and have them close to you at all times (1).
At least once a week, you should prepare make-ahead snacks. As a result, you will always have something to grab for a bite whenever you feel low in energy, and the good thing is that you won’t have to feel guilty later.
Make changes slowly
You aim to start a healthy lifestyle and not a diet, which is why the change ought to be done gradually over time. The change process can be life-long in itself because, with time, you will be discovering many different ways of leading a healthy lifestyle.
If for instance, you are used to drinking eight cups of coffee daily, don’t reduce the number to three at once because it will only be more difficult to adapt. As indicated earlier, do simple swaps as you continue to slowly reduce your intake of junk food as time goes by. After a while, you will find yourself craving healthy meals more than you do junk.
Be more active
Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of healthy living, which is why you should know how to start a healthy exercise routine for a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, starting a healthy lifestyle demands you to take care of your fitness, and there is no better way to achieve this than being more active and doing regular exercise (4).
Your body is designed in a way that it has to move often. As a result, you ought to try to be more active by engaging in activities you are most passionate about. It does not matter whether you are dancing, walking, practicing yoga, or lifting weights, as long as you do something.
Tips to stay active:
- When visiting close-by destinations, opt for a walk instead of using a vehicle.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Develop a habit of parking your car some distance away from the office to get an opportunity to walk.
- If you have to sit for long, stand up and do a simple 10-minute stretching exercise every hour or so.
- Start engaging in house chores such as cleaning, laundry, and mowing the lawn to help you burn calories and control your weight.
Engaging yourself in regular exercise can bring your body and mind many benefits. One of the important functions of exercise is to help you control your weight, and it can also help prevent many diseases (13).
The immediate benefits of exercise include increased energy, mood, and a feeling of well-being. By doing physical exercise, your brain secretes crucial chemicals, including dopamine, adrenaline, and endorphins. These feel-good chemicals are responsible for a typical good mood after a workout.
To get substantial health benefits, an adult ought to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity per week, or a 75-minute weekly vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a balanced combination of both moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. It is recommended to do the aerobic activity in episodes of about 10 minutes and spread throughout the days of the week.
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Improve your mental health
There cannot be a healthy lifestyle without mental health. You may have a body that is very fit physically, but if your mind struggles with things like emotional outbursts, anxiety, eating disorders, and depression, among others, then your lifestyle is not healthy, and something has to be done about it (9).
The most unfortunate thing with mental health is the stigma attached to it, which is why most people opt to suffer in silence. There is increased awareness of the dangers of mental illness, and many people now understand that mental illness is a part of life, and there is no shame in trying to treat it. Furthermore, it is important to keep your mind healthy, even if you don’t have a mental illness.
Tips for a healthy mind:
- Incorporate regular meditation into your schedule to control stress, anxiety, and mood swings. Meditation affects connectivity between amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, which results in lessened anxiety symptoms (8).
- Include in your diet foods that stimulate your brains, such as fatty fish, dark chocolate, coffee and green tea, broccoli, eggs, avocado, nuts, blueberries, and seeds like pumpkin seeds.
- Keep learning new things. Enroll in new courses and begin new hobbies to help your mind stay young and active. The process of learning stimulates brain cells and reduces the risk of dementia.
- Do deep breathing exercises. This helps oxygenate the body, hence activating the parasympathetic nervous system that makes your body relax. Deep breathing also helps all the body systems such as the respiratory system, digestive system, and cardiovascular system.
- If possible, spend most of your time in natural settings. Nature can help boost your happiness and reduce anxiety.
- Keep a journal. The act of writing a journal can help in unwinding from overwhelming or disturbing thoughts, thus clearing your mind.
Get adequate sleep
It is often taken for granted, but getting adequate sleep can be the necessary foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Despite having a busy lifestyle, people should make time to have enough sleep. You cannot be at your productive best without a night of good sleep (10).
Lack of enough sleep affects the ability of your brain to concentrate and function optimally. There is also the risk of reduced immunity and an increase in diseases. A good sleep should consist of approximately 7-9 hours per night.
The Bottom Line
There is no shortcut when it comes to starting a healthy lifestyle. The first thing that has to be done is to prioritize your health because you may be the richest person in the world, but without health, you won’t be able to enjoy the wealth. Furthermore, there are other benefits of a healthy lifestyle, such as the minimization of treatment costs and not forgetting you will be moving closer to that awesome and attractive body you have always dreamt of.
Do you know that your body needs some exercise in addition to a proper diet? Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5 Snacks to Enjoy (and 5 to Avoid) (n.d, webmd.com)
- 7 ways to jumpstart healthy change in your life (2010, health.harvard.edu)
- Breaking Bad Health Habits (2020, webmd.com)
- Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Healthy eating – what to put on your plate (2017, betterhealth.vic.gov.au)
- Improving Your Eating Habits (2020, cdc.gov)
- Junk-Food Facts (2005, webmd.com)
- Meditation and Yoga can Modulate Brain Mechanisms that affect Behavior and Anxiety-A Modern Scientific Perspective (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- No physical health without mental health: lessons unlearned? (2013, who.int)
- Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (2018, nhlbi.nih.gov)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Examining the Evidence to Define Benefit Adequacy (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What are the benefits of eating healthy? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What to know about exercise and how to start (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)