Are you looking to lead a healthier life but don't know where to start? Here are 5 steps to a healthy lifestyle from a health and nutrition coach. These tips will help get you on the right track without making things too complicated.
1. Eat a balanced diet
The first step to a healthy lifestyle is to eat a balanced diet. But what exactly does that mean?
A balanced diet is one that provides the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. These nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. While it is possible to get all of these nutrients from a single food source, such as rice or chicken, it is more likely that they will be obtained from a variety of foods.
For example, a balanced diet might include items such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, dairy products, and healthy fats. By eating a variety of healthy foods, you can ensure that your beautiful body receives the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy.
There are many resources available that can help you learn more about nutrition and how to make healthy food choices (including my blog and this article on holistic nutrition!). But, to help you get started, here are some of the key principles I try to follow.
- Eat food as close to its natural state as possible. That means eating primarily whole foods from nature like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Eat a variety of foods. This ensures a better chance at getting all the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients you need for good health.
- Focus on reducing or eliminating chemical additives where possible. This includes preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and artificial sweeteners. The best way to do this is to eat primarily homemade (check out my clean recipes here!) and buy from brands you trust.
- Avoid highly processed foods, refined grains, deep fried foods, and added sugars. There's more to a food than the nutrients within it. In fact, the way it is grown, processed and cooked has a huge impact on its nutritional profile.
- Eat locally grown, seasonal whole foods, and organic when it makes sense. Foods that are locally grown during their appropriate seasons are more nutritionally dense. That's because they follow their natural growing and ripening timelines and don't require the use of chemical ripening agents. They're also free from chemical treatments that allow the food to be transported on long journeys.
- Whenever possible, buy meats that are range-fed, as well as free of antibiotics and hormones. Do not consume nitrate or nitrates (primarily found in lunch meats and cured meats).
- Eat mindfully. Eating mindfully means you are aware of why, what, and how you eat. Our emotional state when we eat impacts how a meal is digested, absorbed, and ultimately, impacts our health.
2. Exercise daily
The second step in living a healthy lifestyle is to move regularly - ideally, daily!
Whether you’re looking to improve your health or just feel better overall, there are plenty of good reasons to make exercise a part of your daily routine. Here are some of the most important benefits:
- It will improve your overall fitness level
- It will reduce stress levels
- It will Improve your mood
- It will boost your energy levels
- It can have a positive impact on cognitive function and memory.
- It can help protect against various chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
Okay, so now that you’re convinced of the importance of getting your heart rate up, let’s talk about how much and what type of exercise you should do.
Most health experts agree that adults should get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. This can be done all at once, or broken up into smaller increments throughout the day. The important thing is to get moving and to get your heart rate up. Walking, jogging, swimming, and biking are all great ways to get the exercise you need.
In addition, adults should also engage in muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
Remember, these guidelines are written for the general population. Talk to your doctor or a certified fitness professional to determine how much exercise is right for you. And, remember, if exercise is new for you, start slow and work your way up.
3. Prioritize sleep
The third step in living a healthy lifestyle is to get enough sleep.
Most people don't realize how important sleep is to their overall health and well-being. Sleep is when our bodies recover from the stresses of the day and repair any damage that has been done. It's also when our brains consolidate memories and process information. That's why it's so important to get enough quality sleep every night.
So, what is “a good night’s sleep”? Well, most of us need between 7-9 hours of sleep each night to wake up feeling refreshed. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for some of us to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night.
Here’s the good news. There are a number of things you can do to improve your sleep habits and get the rest you need. Start here:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, as they can disrupt your sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
By following these simple tips, you can improve your sleep and get the quality rest you need to feel your best. But, if you feel like you need a little extra help, I highly recommend visiting your doctor and reading Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. It will truly change your life.
4. Drink plenty of water
The fourth step in living a healthy lifestyle is to drink enough water. By making hydration a priority, you can help your body function at its best.
You might be surprised to learn that the human body is composed of approximately 60% water, which means that water is essential for our survival. Every cell in our body needs water to function properly, and even a small drop in hydration can have a significant impact on our health. When we are even mildly dehydrated, we may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and trouble concentrating. More serious cases of dehydration can lead to heat stroke, kidney stones, seizures, or even death.
With that being said, it's clear that maintaining proper hydration is essential for our health and well-being. But, how much water is enough?
I try to follow The 8x8 rule - that is, eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, individual needs vary depending on factors like age, activity level, and climate. For example, older adults may need to drink more water due to reduced kidney function, while athletes may need to drink more water to replace the fluids lost through sweat. In general, though, the 8x8 rule is a safe and reasonable place to start.
The best way to reach this goal is to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Here are a few simple tips that can help ensure you are getting enough water.
- Make sure to keep a water bottle with you at all times. This will make it easy to take a sip whenever you need it. I love this 1 Gallon Water Bottle that comes with time markers and motivational quotes to help you track your intake.
- Try to set reminders on your phone or computer to drink water at regular intervals. I like to fill my water bottle up in the morning, at lunch, and after work.
Drink extra water when you are exercising or spending time in the heat to avoid becoming dehydrated.
5. Manage stress
The fifth step in living a healthy lifestyle is to manage stress.
In our fast-paced, modern lives, it's all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take care of ourselves. As a result, we often end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. But what exactly is stress, and why is it so important to manage it?
Stress is our body's response to any situation that we perceive as being threatening. When we perceive a threat, our body triggers the fight-or-flight response, which prepares us to either confront or flee from that threat.
This response is instinctive and helpful in situations where we are actually in danger. However, in today's world, we often find ourselves in stressful situations that are not actually life-threatening. For example, deadlines at work, financial worries, or family conflict can all trigger the fight-or-flight response even though there is no immediate danger.
If we're constantly feeling stressed, our bodies never get a chance to recover from the fight-or-flight response. This can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety disorders. That’s why it's crucial for us to find ways to manage stress so that we can maintain our health and well-being.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways we can do this. Here are some of my favorite:
- Exercise is a great way to reduce stress levels, since it helps to release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
- In addition, spending time in nature can also help curb stress levels. Being in nature has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, and it can also help to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- Finally, another way to manage stress is to practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or yoga. By taking a few minutes each day to relax and clear your mind, you can help to reduce your overall stress levels.
Most importantly, find what works for you and make stress management a priority in your life.
- By making small changes in your life, you can improve your overall health and wellbeing.
- The 5 steps to living a healthy lifestyle are: eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, prioritizing sleep, drinking enough water and managing stress.
By following these five steps, you can make a positive impact on your well-being. Implementing even just one or two of these steps can lead to improvements in your overall health. So what are you waiting for? Start making changes today!