When life feels overwhelming and out of whack, sticking to a healthy lifestyle can seem like the most intimidating and unachievable goal — but it doesn’t have to be!
To start off, remember that everyone’s health-related goals are different and specific to their individual needs. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to reach someone else’s level of healthy, when all you need to do is start with your own! Plot out an attainable list of goals to get you started, give yourself some grace, and work up to your best health ever.
For a little inspiration, we’ve put together some tips to get you started. Here are four easy rules for boosting your health and feeling like the best you yet!
1. Give your body the nutrients it needs.
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The best rule of thumb is to stick to “whole” foods. If you can pinpoint where a food came from, and if that place doesn’t include a factory, that’s a good indicator. These are things like fruits, veggies, fish, meat, whole grains, eggs, seeds, and nuts. Oh, and let’s not forget about loading up on that H2O!
Don’t be too hard on yourself or try to “diet” your way to health — just do your best to give your body what it needs. If you keep these nutrient-packed foods at the center of your meals, your body will slowly start to be healthier and more energized. And it will thank you for it every day!
2. Avoid giving your body what it doesn’t need.
Do your best to steer clear of things that are toxic to your body. This includes the heavy hitters like cigarettes and alcohol, but it also includes some types of food.
A major culprit is sugar. If you overdo it on the sugar, it can be a cause of acne, major energy crashes, and even some chronic diseases, so just remember: Everything in moderation.
Everyone’s body is different, so there may be foods that are great for others but toxic for you. Do your best to listen to your body and avoid foods that reduce your energy, cause inflammation, induce headaches, or upset your gut.
3. Get up and get active.
It’s no surprise to hear that exercise is a nonnegotiable for long-term health. Whether it’s lifting weights, taking a pilates class, or going on a run or walk, exercise helps regulate our hormones, strengthen our bones and muscles, promote healthy heart and lung function, and boost our energy levels.
To turn the activity into a long-term commitment, try to find exercises you love, be it yoga, Zumba, cycling, rowing, lifting, swimming, or your favorite sport!
Physical activity provides major benefits for our brains, too. Studies have shown that exercising can have an antidepressant effect on your brain and promote the regeneration of cells in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that’s in charge of memory, learning, and emotions.
So before you head to work in the morning, practice sneaking in a quick jog and get your brain activity going for the day!
4. Replace stress with extra sleep.
Your mental health can obviously take a big hit when you’re stressed, but your physical health feels the impacts, too. Increased anxiety causes heightened cortisol levels, which are a big factor in poor sleep, drained energy, high blood pressure, and increased cravings. It can even impair our brain function and interfere with our hormones.
Figure out the best ways for you personally to avoid stress. Try out meditation, do some relaxing stretches, go on a long walk, or put on your favorite playlist.
Most of all, sleep! Sleep is like a two-for-one package deal: It not only lessens stress, but it also directly improves mental and physical health.
Do whatever it takes to set yourself up for the best possible night’s rest. Keep your sleep schedule consistent, reduce your caffeine intake, take a warm bath, dim the lights, read a book, or sip on some sleepy-time tea. Always make good sleep a priority.
As an unofficial fifth rule, go easy on yourself! Don’t make the pressure of “becoming healthy” turn into just another stressor in your life. Try to make the process fun. Do a new workout class with a friend, test out creative recipes with your spouse or roomie, or set up a weekly nature walk with a buddy!
Build your own health list and goals and have fun doing it! In order to stick with it, it really helps to enjoy what you’re practicing.
Share these essential tips with a friend, keep each other accountable, and have your healthiest year yet!
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