Everywhere we go, in real life and virtually, everyone is talking about “healthy living.” This is great, but what exactly does this mean and how exactly do you achieve ‘that’ if it’s not how you do things currently? My intent with this post is to address both; also to leave you with some tangible takeaways that you can implement right now to start living healthy.
So I know I just told you I was going to define “healthy living” but, I can’t really. It’s so subjective. What’s “healthy” to me, might not make the cut in your book or vice versa. But here’s what I can tell you: healthy living can be shame- and stress-free… if you *let it* be. And practice it. Every. Single. Day.
Here’s the thing: diet and exercise are meant to add to our lives, not detract from them. And living a life in which these things are a part, is hugely different than one consumed by them.
So for me, healthy living means leading a life of balance; one that I can sustain effortlessly, for life, and with results. This includes eating only those foods that I love, that nourish my body, give me sustained energy and fuel my workouts, but that also align with my health/wellness intentions. Training in ways that make me feel good, strong; even when that means rest. Maintaining a lean enough physique so that my health, weight are never the reason that I “can’t.” Because in good health, we can BE, DO and HAVE anything we want to be. It means playing by no one else’s “rules” but my own, making time for doing more of what makes mehappy, but also creating something bigger than myself and of value to others. It means being adaptable, and not taking life too seriously; also being present, because it’s all we can be and we can’t get ‘that’ back. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. I chat all about sustainable nutrition, efficient exercise and healthy living here and here.
Whether you’re practiced in this lifestyle, or are just getting started on your healthy living journey, here are some of my best quick tips for living healthy:
1. ONE change
We want to do everything, all at once. And while ambitious goals are great, trying to do everything so often leads to doing nothing. Instead, pick ONE specific thing to work on and focus on nothing, but that. Practice it until it’s easy, effortless aka habit and only then move onto the next thing. While these single changes may seem insignificant by themselves, what happens over time is that they compound to create a sustainable way of living that we can do effortlessly, for life, and with results <=== the ‘perfect’ plan. Start with what you think you are most likely to change, rather than what you think is most important to change. The latter approach will likely keep you frustrated and struggling for longer. But, if you take a more moderate approach and start small, you’re more likely to follow through with other changes, in time, that may, at first, be more challenging.
2. Shift your mindset
From one that is outcome-oriented to one that is action-oriented. Knowledge without implementation is meaningless. Intentions are great, but actions are what achieve outcomes. If you focus on actually doing the things you know you should be doing, let the chips fall as they may, I think you’d be surprised at the results that show up for you and, with so much less stress at that.
3. Do what you love
I know we like to get all hardcore in terms of our eating and exercise… or whatever, but if we're living in a way that we cannot sustain we cannot expect sustainable results to match. Don’t do what you don’t love and begin to offload those things that are making you absolutely miserable to make room for more of that which you love.
4. Be prepared
Preparedness, not willpower is key to resisting temptation. In terms of your nutrition, this means keeping healthy options available and accessible always;even on-the-go. We cannot out-train consistently poor nutrition and in terms of sustainable fat loss, nutrition is the gross control; exercise the fine control - a tool we can use to shape the body. Something as simple as keeping a nutrient-dense, real food protein bar stashed in your car/purse/fridge at work is a great line of defense so that you never find yourself ‘stuck.’ Headed to a social gathering and not sure of the food situation? Search for a healthier recipe to try, perhaps a gluten-free banana bread , and bring enough to share!
5. Vibe attracts tribe
Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Choose wisely, and do not underestimate the power of your support network. Surround yourself with people who support you, challenge you, elevate you and inspire you to be better. If you’re trying to live healthier, it’s important to surround yourself with people who share in those values.
6. Just do something
Something beats nothing, and keeps us in the habit of doing something. Don’t forget: action trumps inaction and little wins add up to be really big wins.
7. Get outside
Not a gym person? No prob. Take your workout outdoors, go for a hike or to the park. And if you like nothing, do the easiest thing: walk. Regardless of your activity of choice, anyone can benefit from a little vitamin D. And, being in nature can help to reduce cortisol, which can lead to the storage of belly fat when chronically elevated over a prolonged period. Keep a change of comfy clothes and shoes with you always so that you are prepared for movement anywhere, anytime.
8. Eat real food
Your body knows what to do with it. Highly processed low-fat/fat-free/low-or no-cal/sugar-free foods may help you to lose weight initially, but can wreak havoc on your system, including hormones and metabolism, thus making sustaining any weight loss and/or maintaining a healthy weight more difficult. Did you know? Over 2/3 of dieters end up even fatter than before. Um, no thanks. Slow and steady wins always.
9. Keep it simple
Healthy living need not be complicated. If the big rocks (i.e. diet, exercise, stress and sleep) are not in place first, focusing on the small rocks (i.e. ratios, macros, etc.) is going to do zilch for you i.e. why, when building a house, we lay the foundation first, not the other way around. No? Big rocks first, fine-tune later.
10. Be patient
The process of lifestyle change is just that; it doesn’t happen overnight, but rest assured that’s a good thing. Fast fixes (e.g. diets) always fail. They keep us struggling for longer, because while we may get temporary results, we learn nothing about ourselves in the process. But when we fully embrace the process versus fight it, and identify what it is that’s holding us back, implementation of the eating and exercise “to-do’s” becomes easy, no problem at all. Be your own detective - you know you best!
Bottom line: Train because you can; eat to nourish, thrive; and have fun. Life’s too short.
What does “healthy living” mean to you? If it’s something you’ve already achieved, how do you embrace the lifestyle? If it’s something you’re working towards, what are you struggling with most? Let us know on ourFacebook page, or show us onInstagram and tag us @vukoobar!
"How to Live a Shame - and Stress-free Healthy Lifestyle"; by Vukoo®