Implementing Healthy Changes in your life. So, when you’ve been stuck in a cycle of making unhealthy choices, it can feel incredibly difficult to break from your current routine. Wanting to make healthy changes, but not knowing where to begin, or how to make changes that last, is a problem that many people face. To understand how to work towards a healthier lifestyle, you must first understand what it means to be “healthy.”
What Does Being "Healthy" Entail?
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the United States identifies that at present, there are three definitions of “health” that are most commonly used. The first definition states that health is “the absence of any disease or impairment.” The second, that health is a state of being that allows an individual to cope adequately with all demands of daily life.
This insinuates that the individual is not impaired and is not grappling with a disease. The third believe health to be “a state of balance, an equilibrium that an individual has established within himself and between himself and his social and physical environment.” There are some negatives to these commonly used definitions of health, the first being that if we were to follow the first or second definition, medical professionals could deem whether a person is healthy based on clearly displayed illness or impairment.
This discounts those presenting with symptoms of a previously unknown disease or impairment, and those who suffer from chronic pain or illness. It also disregards the impact of a person’s mental wellbeing on their overall health. The third definition is possibly the most desirable, relatable way of viewing health in the present day. It allows for autonomy over one’s body, highlights the importance of understanding your balance, and has also led to fighting stigmatization in regards to mental health disorders.
Due to this definition, we now refer to people with mental health conditions as people first, rather than using dehumanizing terms like “schizophrenic” and “diabetic.”
Understanding Where You’re At
If we are choosing to view health as having a balance within oneself and between oneself and their external influences, it becomes incredibly important to understand where you are at, and what your optimal health would look like. Certainly, you will want your body to be operating at its peak physical function, but mental, emotional, and financial health are also contributing factors to your overall well-being.
These forms of health have been linked to lowering stress and increasing your ability to experience calmness. Furthermore, establishing an equilibrium and becoming a healthier individual, both mentally and physically, has been proven to lead to feeling a stronger sense of purpose and longer life expectancies.
While we will all have a different peak, there are some commonalities in what you can do to achieve yours. These methods including exercising regularly, balancing your nutrition, and ensuring you are getting adequate rest.
Establishing an Exercise Routine that Sticks
A prominent component of health is physical activity and exercise. To establish a healthier lifestyle, you must take measures to establish and maintain your physical fitness. It is important to note that you should consult your doctor before incorporating new physical activity into your daily routine, as many people have conditions or physical limitations that can make certain types of exercise harmful.
Once you are cleared for physical exercise, try to incorporate new activities in small ways. Making efforts to go on daily walks, attempting to be more active while doing chores around the house, or trying out a yoga class are all excellent ways to begin your journey to physical health.
Once you feel comfortable and consistent with easier exercises, try out something a bit more difficult like running or strength training. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine does wonder for your body and is also a great way to lessen stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and boost your mood.
How to Change Your Eating Habits
Since we’ve established our definition of health as a form of equilibrium, or balance, it is not enough to only make changes to your physical routine. Diet plays a huge part in your overall wellness, and having a balanced, nutritious diet has great benefits. Healthy diets can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol, and prevent health conditions and illnesses.
A healthy diet will properly fuel your body and mind so that you are more than adequately equipped to handle the daily requirements of life. To ensure you are eating a balanced diet, choose foods from the following five groups: grains, fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy, and fats, oils, and sweets.
Try to reach for the healthiest options in each food group when you are at the supermarket, but also make sure to choose foods that you enjoy! When we find healthy options that we enjoy, it is easier to maintain a well-rounded diet. If you are new to eating healthily, following recommended serving sizes can be a great way to ensure that you are
not consuming too much or too little from a specific food group. If you need to find alternatives due to dietary restrictions, do some research online to find viable options to Implementing Healthy Changes in your life.
There are plenty of resources available from health agencies and nutritionists alike, but, again, make sure to consult with your doctor before you make any large dietary changes. They should have a good idea of your specific dietary needs based on your history.
Change Things Gradually
Perhaps one of the most important parts of implementing healthy changes to your routine is doing so gradually. It is more effective to start with smaller changes that can be easily implemented into your current routine, rather than attempting to make a massive overhaul.
You can begin by focusing on what you are eating, and how. Opting for a whole grain bread over refined bread next time you go to the grocery store makes for an easy, healthy swap. Slowing down the rate at which you eat your food can also contribute to your wellbeing by granting your brain the processing time it needs to recognize when you’re full. This will help you avoid overeating.
Make conscious efforts to try a new healthy recipe each week or ask for your salad dressing on the side when eating out so that you are in control of the amount going into your meal. If you are implementing healthy changes to your life, recognize that change does not come overnight. Allow yourself to become incrementally healthier every day.