Now that Christmas is behind us, ’tis the season of resolutions and goal setting. Many of you are likely gearing up to put those resolutions into action. And even if you don’t have a goal set, you may want to implement some healthy lifestyle changes. Yet, the mere thought of making these changes can be overwhelming. And don’t get me started on actually sticking to those goals. Which is why we are arming you with How to Live + Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: The Practical Guide. This is your all in one resource to implement and continue a healthy lifestyle.
We struggle with this too, honestly. Shifting your lifestyle is no small feat, and requires preparation in order to be successful. I have personally gone through several huge diet and lifestyle changes, and am about to embark on another. Garett and I are actually doing our first joint Whole30 this January, and Dawn will follow the AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) thereafter.
Here is what we have learned along the way, and why we feel confident it will work for you too.
How to Live + Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: The Practical Guide
Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash
Set Realistic Goals
First and foremost, you need a goal to stick to. Whatever your ideal outcome may be, whether it be to lose weight, get in shape, cut out sugar, or eliminate specific food groups, they all have one thing in common: a goal. And that goal needs to be something you can actually accomplish.
I do recommend you challenge yourself of course, but don’t try to tackle too much at once.
Everyone is different, but if you are the type of person that gets easily overwhelmed, or is looking to make several significant changes, try implementing one goal at a time.
In my opinion, and those of many professionals, food is the most important initial step in a healthy lifestyle. I suggest you begin with real food, using the suggestions below, then move on to fitness, lifestyle, and other goals once you master this stepping stone.
Example goals (in order) for someone who is easily overwhelmed:
- Implement and master eating real food
- Incorporate 30-60 minutes of personal-appropriate fitness 2-3 days per week
- Meditate 2-3 days per week
If you are the type of person that can tackle multiple goals at one time, pay even closer attention to the specific goals you are setting. Or, if you have already accomplished some of the main healthy lifestyle steps, you can likely handle more simultaneously. Don’t get too aggressive here, but still challenge yourself.
Example goals for someone who can tackle multiple things at once:
- Implement and master eating real food
- Incorporate 30 minutes of personal-appropriate fitness into your daily routine
- Meditate at least 10 minutes per day
Whatever method and goals you chose, be sure and personalize them to your specific needs.
Become a Planner (Even If you Fake It)
I know this scares a lot of people, and may feel like the biggest hurdle of them all. Especially if planning doesn’t come naturally to you. However, I promise it can be done.
Fake it till you make it works, seriously! The more often you practice something, the easier it becomes.
Especially when it comes to eating real food, you absolutely must plan ahead. This means planning meals, creating the ultimate grocery list so you can master grocery shopping, and preparing food in advance.
Fortunately we have some great tools to make this process easier for you. Sign up for our mailing list to receive our grocery list and meal plan templates, and read the article linked above to learn how to use them.
We cannot say enough about bulk and batch cooking, and are confident it will set you up for success. If you don’t want to complete these tasks on your own, get your spouse, children, or a friend involved to help keep you motivated. It really helps to have someone close to you involved so you can hold each other accountable. Plus, it is always more fun to work with a partner.
And for those days that you simply cannot get a homemade meal on the table, or if you are traveling, always have a backup plan. Have emergency meals stocked in the freezer and know of a local carry out option that meets your needs.
LEARN TO MASTER MEAL PLANNING with HOW TO PLAN 30 DAYS OF MEALS IN ONE DAYAND AN OVERVIEW OF MENU AND MEAL PLANNING.
If I have said it once, I have said it a thousands times. Eating real food is not a “diet”, but a lifestyle. It is something you want to follow for an extended amount of time. This is not a quick fix to help you lose 30 pounds so you can then go back to eating donuts every week.
This shift will change your mindset and focus, and help you focus on nourishing your body and mind with the nutrients and nourishment it truly needs.
There are two important components that will help you stick to a healthy lifestyle.
All of this talk of real food, but what does that actually mean? It may seem obvious but bears repeating: real food is focused on vegetables, fruit, nuts/seeds, meats, and seafood in their natural state. Ideally these will be unprocessed, organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and all-natural when possible.
One thing is for certain, real food is not packaged frankenfoods. Get rid of all those processed boxed meals, frozen dinners, sweets, and so on, and focus on the foods our body needs and requires to function.
Eat For Your Needs
Secondly, everyone has very different needs. What works for me may not work for you, so it is important to adjust these suggestions to meet your requirements.
If you have food intolerances/sensitivities, allergies, religious beliefs, or any other restrictions, take the into account as you plan and incorporate your new lifestyle.
Learn to master a real food/Paleo lifestyle with Paleo Basics: Introduction to the Healthy Lifestyle.
Similar to customizing foods to your needs, workouts are very similar. Especially if you have a health condition, doing the right kind of workouts is incredibly important.
For those with any health issues, such as disease/illness or injuries, be careful with your workouts. Focus on gentle movement such as walking, yoga, and Pilates. If you force intense workouts or over-train, you could derail your progress.
If you are not dealing with any restrictions, have fun with your workouts and be creative. Try new things, and focus on what you truly enjoy.
Also know that you do not need a gym or formal workout facility to accomplish this goal. Instead, you can create a mini gym at home. Or, take advantage of the Best At Home Workouts.
Make time for fitness, even if it is only 20 minutes per day. A short workout is better than nothing, and will still positively contribute to your healthy lifestyle.
Incorporate Overall Wellness
Food and fitness are the obvious star of a healthy lifestyle, but they certainly are not the only ones. Caring for your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health.
The two most important components of overall wellness for your healthy lifestyle are sleep and stress management.
In my late teens and 20’s I always assumed I could live on little sleep. And I did, without much immediate effect. What I did not realize is the toll it was taking on my mental and physical health.
Sleep is essential to living well, and one of the first things we all sacrifice. But I beg you to stop, and put sleep first. When we rest our body heals, both our physical and mental systems depend on it.
Women especially need more sleep than men, with 7-8 hours per night at a minimum. If you are a woman suffering from a disease/illness or injury, you need 8-10.
Men can survive on less sleep than women, however they should follow the same principles if they suffer from any issues.
Learn more about how to Prioritize Sleep for Optimal Health.
We live in a constantly stressed state. Between pressure at work and at home, juggling so many priorities, and generally being an unhealthy nation (at least in the U.S.), our stress levels are at an all time high. To make matters worse, we don’t deal with stress well at all. We push it off to make room for more to-do’s and stuff it inside until we explode.
And as you can guess, the effects of stress on our mental and physical systems are as bad as they come. It is liked to everything from anxiety and depression to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance.
Not only can stress cause illness, but it will mostly certainly make any existing conditions worse. A stressed body and mind cannot be maintained for long, and will break down.
You cannot avoid stress, but you can learn to identify it and reduce it effects. Once you have a handle on it you will see immense improvements in your hearth.
Discover the types of stress, how to improve your reaction + tips to mitigate its effects in Identifying and Managing Stress.
All tips and resources in this how to live + maintain a healthy lifestyle will help you along your journey. Which suggestions do you find more helpful?
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