Jump Starting Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Beginners
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
A "healthy lifestyle" is a pretty broad term, right? What does it actually mean to live a healthy life? Is it just making sure we eat our fruits and veggies? Do I need to take up spin classes five days a week? What makes a lifestyle healthy versus unhealthy? What am I doing wrong that the Instagram yoga junkies look like they are doing right?
The simple answer to living a healthy lifestyle is that there is no simple answer. Even though there are thousands of books advertising information to "completely change your life" with a few steps on living a healthy lifestyle, it doesn’t always seem as easy to follow–or stick with after finishing the book.
Learning to live a healthier lifestyle is not completely about the food we eat and the exercise we may or may not do, it is bigger. It is about the relationships we have with ourselves, friends, family. It is about our confidence levels in our bodies and work life. A healthy lifestyle is maintained by continuously evaluating ourselves and actively working on making better choices for our lives in all aspects of living.
1. Check Yourself
Interviews, first meetings, doctors’ appointments, and every other introduction always begins with getting to know the other person. A journey to a healthier lifestyle begins the same. Take a look inward and ask yourself what you think your unhealthy habits are. Maybe this does mean too many junk foods and not enough healthier foods. Or maybe you are being weighed down by a toxic workplace or relationship. Whatever you think of as unhealthy is your starting point for a healthier lifestyle.
2. Baby Steps
Extreme dieting, exercising more than your normal, or simply making too many changes at once can be overwhelming and lead to the changes not lasting. After your self-evaluation start slowly by only changing one issue at a time. Remember you are becoming healthy for yourself not others, it is not a race to get the healthiest first!
This is a huge step in any journey to healthy living. Self-care boils down to setting aside time in a day to focus on only you. Busy work/school schedules, family or friends’ responsibilities can easily overshadow one’s care and attention. Self-care varies depending on the person and their current lifestyle. This doesn’t always mean a spa Sunday, but maybe it means setting up a skincare routine or getting a fresh haircut. Just adding little things to make yourself feel better and happier will go a long way.
4. Sleep Schedule
Sleep is very important to one’s overall health. Too much or too little sleep can impact our daily lives and schedules. A lot of people and doctors recommend that 8 hours of sleep is ideal, but in reality, with consideration to responsibilities 8 hours is not always achievable. So rather than forcing a certain amount of sleep, try to make a sleeping routine. Setting a bedtime or winding down without technology at a certain hour will clear your mind and is contusive to a good night’s sleep. Routines establish stability which helps organize your thoughts and life.
5. Communication & Relationships
The relationships in our lives have large impacts on our daily lives and happiness. If a relationship is rocky or issues have arisen it can trigger unhealthy habits. A healthy lifestyle includes a healthy mental state. Check-in on the relationships in your life, are there ones that you have neglected? Have you been neglected? Can you change this? If yes, then begin your work there. If no, think about how removing that relationship would impact you. Healthiness revolves around healthy relationships. Try to improve or remove relationships to improve your relationship with yourself.
The gym life isn’t for everyone if it isn’t for you don’t try to force yourself at the beginning of your health journey. Exercise doesn’t always mean running two miles every day or weightlifting. It can be a yoga video at home, swimming with the kids, walking in a park. Anything to get you moving will help get you in a healthier state. If being active has been a chore or if you're intimidated by the gym, you can find other ways to be active with activities you enjoy! Any endorphins will be beneficial, it doesn’t just come from a rigorous gym routine.
7. Don't Beat Yourself Up
There will always be highs and lows on your health journey. The important thing to accept is that it is okay to fail or stumble along the journey. If food is an unhealthy habit and you made a change to eat healthier do not feel guilty for eating unhealthy foods once in a while. It is unhealthy to deprive yourself of everything that sparks happiness. If you stumble, accept it, and continue with your journey. You have already taken the biggest step by showing a want to improve your healthiness.
The last piece of advice that I can offer is to focus on your health journey. In a world of social media is has become increasingly easier to compare our journey to someone else’s because everything can be viewed within seconds. If you are inspired by another's health journey then, by all means, continue to use that inspiration. But if you are ever feeling less than or embarrassed by your progress recognize that healthy lifestyles are personal and what works for them may not work for you.
Be proud of any progress you have made, big or small. Be proud that you have taken the leap to start researching the steps to live a healthier life!