As a healthy living blogger, I thought it might make sense to put together a little summary of what I do on a regular basis to keep myself healthy. Thus, my top 10 tips for being happy and healthy. There’s nothing surprising or revolutionary here–I don’t think healthy living is rocket science. Enjoy!
- Cook for yourself. Lots of people use time as an excuse for not cooking. In reality, there are plenty of ways to get around this problem: doing a big meal prep on the weekend, choosing quick recipes (that take less time than driving to the chinese food restaurant or ordering wings), for instance. Cooking for yourself can be relaxing and usually means you end up with less junk going into your meals and snacks–a big win, in my books! Plus, you wind up saving money.
- Have a (rough) meal plan. I used to think that if I wanted to be an intuitive eater, meal planning was out of the question. This made grocery shopping, cooking/meal prep, and living, to be honest, more difficult than it needed to be. I’ve since realized that if intuitive eating and meal planning are mutually exclusive, it’s not for me–I do better when I give myself a rough plan for the week, including what kinds of snacks and when I’ll eat them. Whether or not I end up hungry for all the snacks and meals I plan, knowing that I will be eating again makes me less likely to overeat at each meal and snack and having a plan saves me trips to the grocery store and lots of money along the way.
- Eat real food as often as you can. When I make my meal plan, I try to include as many real foods that don’t come in a wrapper as I can. As Jillian Michaels (who I have a love/hate–mostly love–relationship with) suggests, if it didn’t come from the ground or have a mother, you shouldn’t be eating it. That means my snacks are things that are either as is (fruit, veggies, yogurt, nuts, etc.) or that I make for myself (muffins, etc.). I still end up grabbing a bar here or there, but I don’t plan on eating very many processed things are part of my daily routine.
- Schedule your workouts. I know that if I have an appointment, I will keep it. One thing that keeps me sane and moving is writing down when I’ll work out ahead of time. Sometimes I literally just schedule in “work out” (if I’m not sure how sore I’ll be or what I’ll be in the mood for), but I’m most likely to get a work out in when I schedule a specific class or plan into the mix. Bonus points if I invite someone along with me to hold me extra accountable.
- Focus on the big picture. I used to stress and stress and stress over every little thing I put in my body (was that yogurt 1% or fat free?) and over the smallest details of my workouts (I should have done 3 more minutes on that treadmill!). Realizing that these things are not what dictate whether or not I’m healthy and happy—but that worrying about them actually takes away from my health—has been freeing. The big picture and considering whether or not what I’m doing is moving me in the direction of a healthier and fitter version of myself keeps me saner and calmer than getting caught up in the little things.
- Strength train. I cannot think of a reason why getting stronger could possibly be a bad thing. With CrossFit getting more popular and the “strong is the new skinny” motto out there (a blessing and a curse, in my opinion), I think more women are hitting the weights regularly. Yay! My favourite part of being strong and lifting on a regular basis is seeing how it carries over into my day to day life: I can move my own furniture and can carry all kinds of things up the 2 flights of stairs to my apartment. It’s the small things that count! Also, on a purely vain and aesthetic level, filling out a pair of jeans and having broader shoulders (hullo, smaller-looking waist) are not so bad side effects.
- Do something that gets your heart pumping most days of the week. As a recovered cardio junkie, I still think there are huge benefits to getting sweaty on a regular basis. Whether or not it helps you lose weight or maintain your weight aside, I don’t think people would be less healthy for hitting the trails or hopping on their bicycles a few times a week. Maybe it’s playing a sport or going for a hike, but whatever it is, I think there’s a mental and a physical benefit from doing activities that are aerobic in nature and keep your heart pumping. In the midst of all the “cardio is death” messages out there, it can be hard to admit that hopping on a stationary bike with your iPod and a podcast is one of your favourite ways to unwind, but for me, that’s the case. Following this kind of activity, I feel calmer, clearer-headed, and restored.
- Take up yoga. From CrossFit to triathlon to climbing to just wanting to be a healthier, fitter person, yoga will help. Whether it’s an athletic style that challenges you physically and mentally or something deeply restorative and meditative that feeds your soul, there’s something to be said for doing a yoga class once or twice a week to supplement whatever else it is you do for your mental and physical health.
- Move every day. Whether it’s a walk or 15 minutes of stretching on your living room floor, there’s something to be said for giving yourself and your body the love you deserve. Most people, when they put in the effort to exercise or to take care of their bodies, will make better choices throughout the day—I know if I’ve gone for a run or made time for the gym, I’m more likely to choose the apple over the cookie when decision time comes.
- Reflect on where you’re at and where you’re going. Maybe it’s not a blog that you share with the world, but documenting your health and fitness journeys – in a diary, on some kind of forum, with photos – is one way to keep yourself honest and to give yourself something to look back on. If you end up injured or overtired, it’s helpful to be able to see what led up to it all. If you feel like a million bucks and have a great race or competition, you’ll want to know what you did to set yourself up for that success. I also use vision boards and goal setting to keep me looking ahead to how I want to keep striving and improving.
What is your top tip for living a healthy lifestyle?