Small steps to a healthy lifestyle
Choosing to lead a healthy life takes conscious planning and the development of healthy habits. When you’re ready to take the leap into a healthier, happier life, consider these small steps to help you jumpstart your plan.
Understanding a healthy lifestyle
Living healthfully isn't just about getting regular exercise or eating lots of fruits and veggies – it's about creating balance in your life that allows you to feed your physical, spiritual and emotional health. While you can expect to have a few off-days along the way, a healthy lifestyle incorporates nutritious eating, regular exercise, plentiful sleep, positive social interaction and mental stimulation. Skimping on any one of these things can lead to life imbalances that could hurt your health.
Inventory your health
Everyone is bound to have at least a few healthy habits already on tap, and taking a few minutes to identify them will boost your confidence and prepare you to take the next step. Write down your current healthy habits, and then write down the areas in your life that you'd like to clean up. Understand that you don't have to change everything at once – prioritize your list and choose one or two areas to really focus on improving.
Make a meaningful plan
You can read all the self-help books in the world and follow all the suggested steps, but if the plan means nothing to you, you'll be unlikely to stick with it for long. Set S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-constrained) goals that have a deeper meaning in your life. For instance, if you want to improve your nutrition and you feel strongly about supporting your local economy, you may want to commit to cooking healthy dinners made solely from supplies purchased at local farmer's markets. You'll feel good about the plan and because you believe in it, you'll be more likely to follow through.
Publicize your plan
It's all well and good to think about making changes in your life, but when you start publicizing your intentions, you become a lot more accountable for your actions. After you've made your plan, you need to take two steps to solidify it:
- Write down and post your plan somewhere you'll see it often, like on your calendar or the front of your fridge. This will act as your constant reminder.
- Talk about your plans with family and friends. This works best if you talk to them in very specific terms that they can then hold you accountable for. For instance, you could tell them that you're shopping at the farmer's market on Saturday and ask if they want to come over for a healthy meal that evening. Then, you're accountable for following through to make a healthy meal.
It's not all-or-nothing
Understand that your new, healthy lifestyle is founded on a series of choices that lead to a well-rounded you. If you slip up and skip a series of work-outs or chow down on a whole bag of potato chips, don't throw in the towel and stop trying. Pick yourself back up again and remind yourself that a healthy lifestyle takes a lifetime to achieve.