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What exactly is a healthy lifestyle? So many people are talking about it nowadays – from your family doctor, to health magazines, and business gurus. But what REALLY is a healthy lifestyle?
Over the course of my 15+ years in the health and wellness industry (including many years as a coach, fitness technology consultant, strength coach, and EMT), I’ve seen a lot of different lifestyles: many of which are unhealthy.
You’d be surprised as to who was living healthy way of life – and it’s not what you think! Here are the top five considerations one must make in order to live a truly healthy lifestyle.
5 Things To Consider If You Want To Live a Healthy Lifestyle
This is where many people struggle, and where things can get really unhealthy, really quickly. As humans, we can truly only balance three things at one time. So this, perhaps, is the key to a healthy lifestyle. But it’s not so easy.
Try to pick just three from the following:
Tough choice, or are you really only doing one of these?
Notice that within this choice itself, “healthy lifestyle” cannot always include fitness, at least not at a high level, all the time. If it does, it may mean mixing family and friends along with it.
This does not mean that you don’t stay active; but rather, that you look to change your daily routines to include taking the stairs, walking, or other physical activity you can do within your day.
Your three choices will change over time. There is no right or wrong answer. Rather, this is just a way to do a little bit of introspection to see where you are in life, what your priorities currently are, as well as where you may NOT be putting in as much focus.
2.) Mental Health
While this seems to be a bit taboo of a subject, your mental health is absolutely paramount to a healthy body, let alone a healthy lifestyle.
No, taking a “mental health day” every now and again is NOT caring properly for your mental health – at least not the way it should be. Mental health involves a range of actions, from goal-setting and tracking progress, to talking with friends or a professional through life’s ups and downs.
Making sure to take care of yourself mentally will help you unlock your full potential, and you’ll feel much better day to day!
We need to make this an important item for a healthy lifestyle. There will be times in life (often due to work or family) when sleep will not necessarily be a huge priority. While this can be OK for short spurts of time, if you continuously dig yourself into sleep-debt, you can find yourself on the wrong side of the tracks health-wise.
The “8-hour rule” may be nice to think about for “healthy sleep”, but you and your body know what it needs. Some of the athletes and business owners I know operate extremely well with 5 hours of sleep, and feel slow and sluggish with anything more than 7. Others need 8-10 hours of quality sleep to feel and perform well. Only YOU know what works best for you.
Once you know how many hours you need, make sure it’s quality sleep, as this has far-reaching implications on your health. Aim to have zero screen time 30 minutes before bed, and keep the bedroom for sleep, sex (and perhaps a little light reading) only.
Yes, we cannot mention a healthy lifestyle without exercise and movement. Just don’t think that you HAVE to head to the gym to “be healthy”, because you don’t. Here we are talking about activities within your normal day, as well as hobbies you can share with family and friends.
Human beings have been around for centuries, and yet only in the last 60 or so years have we begun to have these place called gyms where the masses congregate to exercise.
Perhaps this is an invention that was made due to the industrialization and modernization of our society, in which we don’t get nearly enough movement in our daily life. Or maybe we just wanted a place to congregate with like-minded individuals, suffering or enjoying their fitness quest.
But don’t think you MUST head to the gym to get moving! You can get your exercise outdoors (it’s free, after all). Pick up an activity you ENJOY that gets you moving – this is the real key to an active lifestyle: doing things you enjoy!
Dance classes, rock climbing, canoeing, cycling, running, swimming, hockey, mountaineering, racquetball, badminton, hiking…there are so many things one can do to get moving that are also enjoyable. If you’re just getting started, think small, and be consistent.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says to aim for 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise 5 days a week, or 20-60 min of vigorous exercise three days a week. If you want to start walking, build up starting small, but walking consistently, and aim for 10,000 steps per day.
Remember, make it something YOU enjoy, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to being active!
‘You are what you eat’, as what you eat has a direct effect on your health. There are always trending diets, but one thing will remain true throughout: eating a diet that is plant-based, and/or contains as little processed substances as possible, (think foods that look like they do in nature) will always prove to be far healthier than foods that are processed.
Look to match your food intake with your energy expenditure. If you’re looking to lose weight, stick with around a 200-calorie per day deficit. This slight deficit (taking into account your daily activity level and Basal Metabolic Rate), will allow you to capitalize on the power of consistency and compounding, allowing you to see healthy weight-loss over a period of time.
A healthy lifestyle has many levels to it. It will be different for each person, depending on where they are in life, and what they have going on.
But by focusing on the five points above, you now have the major pieces to help you live a healthy, balanced life, which will help you unlock and use your full potential.