Switching to a healthy lifestyle is not always an easy task. For this reason, many people who attempt it fail within a few days.
But this time round you are not going to fail. You will get it right!
And I will tell you why, because in this article we’ll share effective tips to help you start a healthy lifestyle and succeed.
What is the most common mistake when trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle?
When trying to start a new healthy lifestyle, the most common mistake people make is to want to change everything at once. That is, doing everything perfectly the first time round and getting results instantly.
That approach and mindset is a big mistake, as a complete lifestyle change doesn’t just happen overnight. You will usually find that you need to do it little by little over a long period of time for the healthy habits to stick.
Understand that leading a healthy and active lifestyle is not a sprint that you dash and get over with in a matter of seconds. Rather, it is a long-term thing; a light jog or even a steady walk down a road each day.
A healthy lifestyle must be maintained over time, but at the same time made enjoyable for it to be tolerable and the process and change to yield best results.
In this post, I'll highlight some six tips that have helped me (and continue to help me) achieve my healthy lifestyle goals.
Basic Healthy Lifestyle Criteria
Healthy lifestyle habits make a big difference. According to a massive study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, people who met five basic healthy lifestyle criteria enjoyed significantly, impressively longer lives than those who had none.
The five basic healthy lifestyle criteria are:
- Healthy diet: Researchers recommend intake of healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids, while avoiding unhealthy foods like red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium intake.
- Healthy physical activity level: Studies show this includes at least 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
- Maintaining healthy body weight: A normal body mass index (BMI) is defined as lying between 18.5 and 24.9
- Moderate alcohol intake: This is measured as between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men. Generally, one drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That’s 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
- Quit smoking: There is no healthy amount of smoking. A healthy lifestyle means not smoking.
Adopting daily habits that help you meet these basic healthy lifestyle criteria will ensure you live a long and health life that brings you joy and success all round.
In fact, another mega-analysis of 15 international studies that included over 500,000 participants, found that over half of premature deaths were due to unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking.
Besides preventing premature death, living a healthy lifestyle helps you feel good about yourself and boosts your self-esteem, while also preventing chronic diseases and long-term illnesses, per the US National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
You, therefore, absolutely need to ditch bad habits and start leading a healthy lifestyle now, if you haven’t already.
Key Steps to Start a Healthy Lifestyle Today
Here’s are additional steps that I have found useful for consolidating good habits for a healthy lifestyle:
1. Accept yourself how and where you are first
If your goal is a physical change, you need to recognize where you are before starting on a fitness program, for example. That is important because you will understand where you are now and the work needed to get to where you want to be.
Thus, you must accept yourself as you are today. This is how to begin the journey to a healthy lifestyle on the right foot.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle requires time, perseverance and patience in order to adapt to this new way of life. For this reason, if you acknowledge where you are and the effort needed to work on yourself, it will be easier to do it. You will brace yourself and look forward to the challenge and celebrating your progress and victory.
On the other hand, if you refuse to accept your real situation and burry your head in the sand regarding where you are and the changes you need to make, this is a recipe for failure. It can lead to desperation to change and an abandonment of the goal to live a healthy lifestyle in a very short time.
Most big changes require time and persistence. They might not be achieved in a month or two. I did not see results until a year later, but you will love it.
Be patient and don't give up; that's the key.
2. Change to a healthy and balanced diet
As already mentioned above, diet is a key point to starting a healthy lifestyle. Coupled with physical activity, eating a healthy diet is a must and should be consistent.
Our bodies need nourishing diets, including vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients so that we can get the energy needed to carry out our different daily activities.
For a healthy diet, include plenty of vegetables and fruits, foods rich in fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Also try different vegetables, don't limit yourself to the most typical ones. I tried the jujube, also known as red or Chinese date, and… I loved it! And seriously, I didn't know of its existence, you should try it, too.
Close up of dried Red Jujube
Gradually replace the ultra-processed foods with healthy organic foods.
Ideally, prepare a weekly menu that suits your health goals and plan your meals ahead each week. This way, in addition to keeping track of calories and meals, you will be able to record your progress little by little each week. You can change all this gradually.
Changing my diet cost me, I'm not going to lie to you. But I do not regret having done it, because I have been taking better care of myself for much more than two years and I notice the benefits of it day by day.
3. Set yourself micro targets
Setting the end goal is very beneficial and easy, but few people do it. You must identify what you are looking to achieve. Some of the most common targets being to lose weight, eat healthier, increase muscle mass, or simply take better care of yourself.
Once you are clear on your long-haul goals and objectives, go ahead and convert this objective into smaller, more manageable objectives, such as "losing 1 kilo during these 15 days" and so on. Make sure they are realistic objectives that you can reach.
Remember maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good health is not an overnight process. It is and ongoing process, entailing setting small targets, realistic, achieving them and moving on to the next goal in your healthy living lifestyle routines.
4. Know your progress and what you’re doing well
You can check your weight on the scale every day or every week, but I am sorry to tell you that this is not a 100% reliable strategy to know your progress. Your weight on the scale or other measure can vary from day to day for many reasons.
What I did when I realized this, is to write down all my measurements with the help of a meter in my progress planner, including my waist, hip, arms, and legs. And month after month I wrote down the changes to check if, overall, I was losing weight.
Adopting a similar strategy of compiling the data and looking at the overall picture can be very helpful to know your progress. This is how you will see if you are winning.
5. Drink plenty of water
One aspect that you cannot forget also is to hydrate yourself correctly. Keep in mind that when we get thirsty, it usually indicates we were starting to dehydrate.
Avoid sugary soft drinks, as they will do you more harm. The same applies to alcoholic drinks; they will add more sugars in your system and swell your abdomen. Eliminate those drinks little by little and instead quench your thirst with fresh water.
I already eliminated sugary soft drinks and alcohol completely in my diet and I can report it was one of the best decisions I made for my health. Now when I go out with my friends, I ask for a bottle of water and although they look at me somewhat strangely, I have my goals clearly spelled out.
If you want something and know it benefits your health, you have to fight for it. Your health is your wealth.
6. Get enough sleep and rest
Without a doubt, rest is absolutely essential for good body function and avoiding fatigue. And getting a good night’s sleep allows you to get this essential rest. Sleep is the time when the body recovers and reenergizes in readiness for the next day.
Your muscles need to recover from the effort of the day, especially if you follow vigorous physical exercise routines during the day. For adequate sleep, get at least 8 hours of shuteye so that the body has enough time to recover.
Remember that without a restful, good night's sleep, it will cost you more during the day, as it will make you drowsy.
Chronic insomnia is also linked to a range of more serious health problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Therefore, getting enough sleep is not an option when leading a healthy lifestyle.
Always make the effort to get your snooze on as much as possible and rest well, even during the day. Studies have shown that daytime naps that lasts between 15 and 90 minutes can improve brain functions ranging from memory to focus and creativity for most people.
Other benefits of naps include restoring alertness, enhancing performance, and reducing mistakes and accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
If your daily routine involves getting up early, try to fall asleep earlier. I know it may be difficult for some of us, but do it for yourself. You will be in a better mood when you wake up, have more energy throughout the day to effectivity carry on with your daily activities. Your muscles will be well-rested and become stronger.
I hope that these tips to start a healthy lifestyle help you achieve just that. Apply them from today to live longer and achieve overall good health and wellbeing throughout.
Start a Healthy Lifestyle - Infographic
To learn more, check out the infographic below for more tips on how to start and lead a healthy lifestyle: