Hey there! I’m sure you know that, in this world which runs in express mode these days, taking care of our health is crucial but also feels like a task (esp. When even having the time to peacefully sleep or eat is difficult enough in our busy lifestyle). Believe me, I know – been there, done that. It isn’t often that we actually take the time to take stock of ourselves, be it physically or mentally or even emotionally.
It’s a constant rat race – trying to be better than others or just surviving – and we forget that our body is the only thing that’s going to help reach our goals/ dreams. Your mindset – first and foremost – is essential to making mindful choices and cultivating habits that will put you on track to a healthier and happier you. Starting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining it both are just as important.
So let’s begin with some of the things I believe are super important for a healthier life.
1. Set your priorities straight : Self-Care is mandatory For optimal health!!!
Hobbies or self-care activities are not just for kids or for people who somehow already have time. No, you need to make that time – set a few hours aside each week to just simply unwind, recharge your batteries and foster your talents, explore your passions and interests consciously.
Actively invest time into your hobbies – literally, they could be anything from creative arts, cooking, playing a guitar or photography to reading a book wrapped in a cozy blanket with a mug of hot chocolate in hand or even just a spa night – anything that enriches your life and brings contentment. Always make time for things that bring you joy, fulfillment and relaxation.
Indulge yourself – you will have decreased your stress levels, experience a sense of accomplishment and you will enjoy letting your creativity free. ( PS: Just try to make sure you don’t break your wallet while doing these activities – surely we don’t want to go broke, yes? 😜)
2. Nature + Nurture = A happier you 🌴
Now, who doesn’t like nature? Though a lot of you might think immersing in nature needs to be set aside for a vacation or a holiday, it’s definitely not just restricted to that. It could also be a tiny greenhouse in your balcony or some potted plants in your home – having some greenery and natural sunlight in your space can do wonders for productivity by reducing anxiety and improves mental clarity a.k.a your sunlit batteries.
There are so many benefits to spending some quality time in nature while taking a stroll, a hike through the woods, a relaxing day at the beach or even just tending to your garden – they have a calming effect and of course, they do help soaking in some Vitamin D under natural sunlight (preferably mid-day for 15-20 mins) which is essential for bone health and immunity.
Just take a break from your work for a few mins, step outside and just breathe in the fresh air. Your body will thank you for it – also you can grow some plants or shrubs which can make your home pretty as well as providing fresh herbs for your healthy diet while rejuvenating you : it’s like a one task = three benefits. 💚(FOUR benefits if your hobby is also included/simultaneously done in this task)
3. Healthy eating = (Balanced Diet + Appropriate Quantities + When to eat) – (Sugar and Processed Foods)
Okay, so it’s very basic, you know that you need to take carbs, proteins, healthy fats, nutrients, minerals with a variety of foods to nourish your body which is called a balanced diet. It’s not mandatory to give up all your favorite junk food or late night snacks or movie night binges but try to have healthier alternatives to it whenever possible or have these on cheat days (which is not everyday, mind you). Experiment with new recipes, textures and flavors to keep your meals interesting and delightful.
Moderation is KEY
That’s well and great but plenty of folks make the mistake of NOT monitoring the amount of so-called healthy food and end up with an unhealthy physical health along with a multitude of associated issues that impact your daily life. If you were to take in more calories than you are burning in a day no matter if it’s the healthiest of food – you will still gain weight and unbalance it since your body simply doesn’t need that much food and it will just keep storing the excess in the form of fats.Always keep in mind that healthy food will become unhealthy if you don’t take it in moderation.
When To Eat?
While WHAT you are eating and HOW MUCH you are eating is important – it is just as imperative to know WHEN to eat. Your metabolism is not constant across the entire day – it changes along with your hormones which lead to either burning of more calories or accumulating them in the form of fat.
Try to keep about a 12 hrs time gap b/w your last meal of the day to the first meal of the next day. Moreover, set time ranges for your meals so that your body doesn’t start piling up your food thinking that there may not be a next meal for a long time, thus increasing your fat storage. Your body will usually end up in survival mode if you have irregular meal timings.
Limit Sugar and Processed Foods
In our current lifestyle and ease of accessibility, it’s only a matter of a few clicks to order food/ drinks that we are craving along with unfortunately sneaking in sugars hiding in processed foods and beverages. These added sugars contribute to weight gain, inflammation, fatty liver, dental cavities, increased risk of falling prey to chronic diseases that you can’t get rid of afterwards. Try opting for healthier alternatives in natural sugars if you would like to add some sweetness to your diet at times like honey, fruits and nuts or dairy.
While it may be easy to just order food whenever we are craving certain dishes or buy processed foods for ease of cooking them – your body is definitely not going to be happy about it in the long run. I know it’s easy to say YOLO and satisfy your cravings now but other than momentary satisfaction – it’s only going to lead to long term repercussions. And no one said that junk food can’t be made healthier.
Choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible, as they are packed with essential unfiltered nutrients that nourish your body. A good strategy to have healthier alternatives readily available is to prep your meals beforehand so that you DON’T resort to convenience foods. You can prepare your meals on the weekend or when you are unwinding during the day. Further, for any junk food cravings – you can always make them completely at home with fresh ingredients and zero preservatives to store them in the freezer in bulk for whenever you wish to eat them later on. Over time, as you make healthier food choices, your taste buds will adjust accordingly, and you will find satisfaction in the natural flavors of whole foods and home cooked meals.
By providing your body the right nutrients in the right quantities at the right timings for yourself (Everyone has a different body type along with different lifestyles – connect with your nutritionist/ dietitian to find out what your body needs to be healthy)- you’ll have the energy to focus on your goals each day to build a strong foundation for a healthier future.
4. Hit your daily physical activity goals
The same way that a balanced diet is important – regular exercise is like an accompaniment to your favorite dish without which it would just be incomplete. Exercise improves your cardiac health, boosts your energy levels and uplifts your mood along with your stamina. Make no mistake – you don’t need to hit the gym to exercise – all it needs is a physical activity you genuinely like. It could be sports, dancing to your favorite songs, going for a hike, swimming after a long day or just walking to your office/ college.
The key is to start first and then stay consistent. Take a break for a quick walk between every hour of sedentary work. (Quick tip – You can keep only a small water glass near your workspace so that you will get up to get some more water. Don’t be lazy to get up and get that water, yeah? – hydration is extremely important!! )
Whenever you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters, thus leaving you happier and invigorated. You can also incorporate a bit of yoga into your daily morning routine – your body will be relaxed afterwards and ready to tackle the day. (PS: Don’t fall asleep afterwards just because you are relaxed and happy – you got work to do!)
5. Stay hydrated for a healthy body!
Your body is on average 60% water, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that we need to maintain that level to function optimally. Now, proper hydration is absolutely essential for functions like digestion, nutrient and waste transportation, skin elasticity, temperature regulation, immunity, lubricated joints, healthier heart and basically keeping every single organ in your body healthy for optimal performance.
Striving to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day would be ideal but do keep in mind that every individual may have different water quantity requirements which could depend on age, gender, activity level and climate. Space out drinking water throughout the entire day to help you stay energized and focused.
If you feel bored with plain water – you can spice it up with a squeeze of lemon or some mint leaves. One of the ways to get some extra nutrients with your daily water is to infuse it with fresh fruits like berries or slices of orange or cucumber to add a refreshing twist. Adding aloe or chia seeds can add a bit of textural difference with numerous health benefits as a bonus. Your skin will thank you for the hydration, and you’ll have the vitality to take on whatever life throws your way!
6. Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption to improve health
If you are reading this, then you know you need to make some changes to your lifestyle which includes getting rid of harmful habits for a healthier you.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable diseases and premature death as it is one of the most significant risk factors for various high risk health conditions. Once you’ve made the decision to quit smoking and start implementing it, your body kicks into high gear to begin the journey of healing to optimal health. Your heart and lungs function better, your risk of cancer decreases, and you’ll experience an overall improvement in your health.
It’s not going to be an overnight change if you have been dependent on such habits for too long. It’s mostly likely going to be an uphill battle – but it will all be worth it once you are free of it with a healthier you. Seek support from family, friends, or healthcare professionals to help you along the journey to a smoking free life. There are multiple resources available that can motivate you in the form of support groups, counseling and nicotine replacement therapies – they can make the quitting process more manageable.
As with pretty much any edibles, anything in excess is going to have detrimental effects on your health. While some studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption can have potential health benefits, excessive alcohol intake can lead to a myriad of health issues, including liver damage, heart problems, and addiction. The key is to be mindful of your alcohol intake and understand your limits. Peer pressure can be difficult to deal with but know that it’s YOUR responsibility to take care of your body. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly, and know when to say no. Always prioritize your health and well-being.
7. Foster positive and strong relationships
As Aristotle said, ‘Man is by nature a social animal’. No matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert or ambivert – surround yourself with people who lift you up and bring about positivity in your life. Social connections are vital for mental and emotional well-being because strong social support can reduce stress levels, alleviate feelings of loneliness (which in itself can impact your daily life drastically) and increase your sense of belonging.
Take the time to nurture your relationships with family and friends, and don’t hesitate to reach out when you need support. Engage in social activities, join clubs or communities that share your interests, and make an effort to connect with new people.
Remember that quality matters over quantity; even having a small circle of close friends can provide immense comfort and happiness. By fostering social connections, you’ll experience a greater sense of joy, and you’ll have a support system to lean on during both good and challenging times.
8. Stress Management
Find stress-busting techniques that work for you to manage stress, such as practicing mindfulness, meditation, engaging in hobbies you enjoy or spending time with pets can all serve as a healthy distraction and bring joy to your life. Carve out time for self-care, whether it’s reading a book, taking a long walk, or indulging in a bubble bath. Connecting with loved ones and sharing your thoughts/ feelings can also be incredibly liberating, comforting and can provide emotional support during stressful times.
Always remember, it’s okay to take a breather and prioritize your mental well-being. By managing stress effectively, you’ll enhance your resilience and productivity, improve your overall mood, and experience a greater sense of inner peace.
9. Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about living in the present, fully aware and not getting swept up in the past or worrying about the future. Engaging in mindfulness regularly helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and enhances your ability to manage your emotions and stay calm in challenging and high-stress situations.
Mindfulness practices can include meditation, deep breathing exercises, body scanning, and mindful movement, such as yoga or tai chi. You can also practice mindfulness in daily activities like mindful eating, savoring each bite and paying attention to the flavors and textures of your food. Today is a gift – making the most of each moment of your life is the least you can do for yourself, so be sure to appreciate and enjoy the little joys that life has to offer.
10. Prioritize Quality + Quantity Sleep
To align with your internal clock – Establish a consistent sleep schedule by getting into bed and waking up at around the same time each day, even on weekends no matter how tempting it is to sleep in. Create a relaxing and peaceful bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. You can dim the lights, set up some pleasant room fragrances like lavender or vanilla, add a few more pillows if you feel like it, take a warm bath or practice relaxation methods such as deep breathing and methodical relaxation of your body.
Ensure to avoid caffeine and to limit screen time at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt your sleep cycle. When you prioritize quality sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to tackle the day ahead.
11. Regular Health Check-ups
I’m sure all doctors would universally wish that their patients were of a “Prevention is better than cure” mindset. Setting up periodical health check-ups and screenings play a crucial role in early detection and prevention of potential health issues. They are essential for maintaining good health and diagnosing any health concerns early on when treatment is most effective.
Consult with your healthcare provider to create a personalized health check-up schedule based on your age, sex, lifestyle and medical history. This doesn’t need to be just for you but also for your family. Preventive care empowers you to take charge of your health, reduces the risk of complications, and contributes to better long-term outcomes.
So, how to incorporate Healthy habits and turn them into your lifestyle?
Here are a few where you can start from –
1.Setting Realistic Goals
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a change to a healthier lifestyle done overnight. Setting achievable, realistic goals is key to making lasting changes. Make sure to celebrate small victories along the way, as each step forward contributes to your overall progress. Be kind to yourself and practice patience – Always remember that change is a gradual journey.
2. Finding Accountability Partners
Those who hustle together stay together! Partner with loved ones who share your health goals and support each other along the way. Having an accountability buddy can be motivating and encouraging, making the journey to a healthier lifestyle more enjoyable. You can also find fitness apps that have health coaches or communities that share the same goals with you.
3. Prioritizing Mental Health
Your mental well-being is precious. Dedicate time everyday / week to activities that relax your mind, reduce stress, and promote positivity. Engaging in activities like reading, journaling, mindfulness practices, or listening to music can provide a sense of calm and inner peace.
4. Meal Prepping
Meal prepping can be a perfect partner to keep you from ordering out. It’s a lifesaver not only for your health but also for your bank account. 😛 Planning your meals ahead of time ensures you have healthy options readily available for when your hunger strikes you. It saves time and effort during busy weekdays and reduces the temptation to resort to unhealthy convenience foods. Set aside time during the weekend/ after work on weekdays if you feel up to it – to prepare ingredients, cook meals in batches, and store them in portioned containers for easy grab-and-go meals throughout the week.
5. Enjoying Outdoor Activities
Nature is an endless playground! Take advantage of the great outdoors and enjoy activities that get your heart pumping. From hiking and biking to picnics in the park or camping trips, outdoor activities provide not only physical ex
Congratulations on embarking on this journey to a healthier you! Remember, it’s all about progress, not perfection. Small, consistent changes lead to lasting results. Embrace these 11 proven tips, and don’t forget to sprinkle in some self-love along the way. Life is a beautiful, fun adventure, and taking care of yourself is the best way to enjoy it to the fullest. So, here’s to a healthier, happier, and more vibrant you! Cheers!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How much exercise do I need to incorporate into my routine?
The amount of exercise needed varies depending on individual factors such as age, fitness level, and health conditions. As a general guideline, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. However, any amount of physical activity is better than none, so start where you are and build up from there.
2. Are cheat days allowed when following any healthier diet?
Self-restraint is vital when it comes to a balanced diet. It’s okay to indulge occasionally and enjoy your favorite treats. The key is to avoid making cheat days a regular habit. Focus on overall healthy eating habits most of the time, and occasional indulgences won’t derail your progress.
3. Is it necessary to count calories to maintain a healthy weight?
While calorie counting can be helpful for some individuals, focusing on a balanced diet and portion control is generally more sustainable for maintaining a healthy weight.
4. How can I effectively manage stress in a busy lifestyle?
Stress management is crucial, especially in a fast-paced world. Find stress-relief techniques that work for you. Consider incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine. Engaging in hobbies, spending time in nature, or connecting with loved ones can also help alleviate stress and promote a sense of well-being.
5. How can I quit smoking successfully?
By giving up smoking, you are taking a significant leap towards better health. Seek support from family, friends, or healthcare professionals to aid in your quit journey. Consider joining a support group or using nicotine replacement therapies. Remember, quitting may take multiple attempts, but each try brings you closer to success. Stay persistent, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks.
6. How much alcohol is considered moderate consumption?
Moderate alcohol consumption differs for men and women. According to guidelines, moderate drinking for women is up to one drink per day, while for men, it’s up to two drinks per day. However, it’s essential to consider individual factors like body weight, tolerance, and overall health. If you have any concerns/ queries about your alcohol consumption, reach out to a healthcare professional to clear your doubts.
7. What if I have difficulty practicing mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill that takes practice. It’s normal to have a wandering mind or find it challenging to stay present initially. Be patient with yourself and gently bring your focus back to the present moment when your mind drifts. Guided meditation apps or mindfulness classes can be helpful for beginners. With increased practice, mindfulness will become second nature to you.