As January rolls in each year, I hear so much talk about getting healthy. It’s everyone’s goal, and don’t get me wrong, it’s a good one. It’s good to want to exercise more and eat healthier. But, the problem I notice is that many of us are talking about it and we even start but we don’t start off with a strong foundation that will sustain us throughout the entire year. So, if we’re lucky, our new lifestyle changes last until march and then on December 31st, we make the same resolutions all over again. I don’t want that to be you so I’m going to share 12 tips that worked for me when I was trying to start a healthier lifestyle.
KNOW YOUR “WHY” AND FOLLOW THROUGH
Many of us start of with goals and don’t end up achieving them because we don’t have a clear purpose for why we’re starting. Sometimes we start off because of the pressure to make a goal, to make someone else happy, or because everyone else is doing it. If you don’t have a “why,” then when things get tough, it will be easy to give up.
Personally, I wanted to be healthier because I was going through some health challenges that scared me. I felt physically tired all the time and had to rely on coffee for energy. I could barely walk up stairs without being exhausted. I got headaches all the time. I was around 20 then, and I realized that if I didn’t make changes, things would slowly (but surely) begin to spiral downward. So, I decided in my heart that it was time to make a change. I wrote down my short term goals and began working towards a healthier lifestyle.
START OFF WITH SMALL CHANGES
You don’t have to cut everything out cold turkey. Actually, you shouldn’t. When my doctor told me that the only way to reverse my health challenges was to change my diet, I literally started thinking about all the things I’d cut out. I went to the supermarket and avoided rice, sugar, milk, cereal, you name it. Then, I switched out my flour from regular unbleached white flour to coconut flour and almond meal. I ate cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. I stopped buying snacks I loved. In short, it was horrible. I couldn’t keep up with it so I went right back into unhealthy habits.
Don’t do what I did. Start by cutting down on sugary drinks for example, and drink more water instead. Once you get a firm grasp on that, move on to something else. Before you know it, you’ll be so much healthier than you were before.
HAVE THE COOKIE IF YOU WANT TO
Seriously, though. Most things are only bad for you when you have them in excess. If you want to, have a cookie or two. Again, don’t be like me: I tried to substitute snacks that I loved with “healthier” versions. It didn’t taste the same at all. On the other hand, if you can cut down on sugar in a snack that you like with it still tasting good, go for it. What I mean is, don’t try and switch a chocolate chip cookie for a sugar free flourless version. It might not taste like you want it to.
Just be sure to have any junk food in moderation, not all the time. Personally, when I have balanced meals throughout the day, I can have junk food every once in a while without going crazy.
Also, watch your trigger foods. There are a few things I know I can’t have because they’ll trigger me to keep eating. Figure out what those are for you and try to avoid them if you can.
START TAKING SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements can be extremely helpful if you don’t get enough vitamins and minerals through your diet. We need vitamins to help keep us healthy or we can end up getting sick very quickly. Here is a list of supplements health experts actually recommend. In addition to the 5 listed there, I personally take:
- Maca (to boost my energy and limit cramps during my cycle)
- Turmeric (it’s an anti inflammatory and antioxidant, it helps maintain heart health, and heals joint pain)
- Hair, Skin and Nails Vitamins (consists of the B Complex, Zinc, Fish Oil, Manganese, and Selenium)
- Collagen (improves digestive health, bone health, and skin elasticity)
PLAN OUT YOUR WEEK
Planning is one of the most important steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into the kitchen hungry only to eat junk food instead of a meal because I didn’t plan.
You can plan out your day by choosing to prep meals the day before (or even at the beginning of the week). I know sometimes it can be challenging to come up with healthy meals that also taste good. There are plenty of apps out there with healthy recipes but I recommend LifeSum. You can also log your meals in the app and it will tell you how nutritious (or not) it was. You can track your water vegetable, and fruit intake as well. It also tracks the calories you burn and if you want to, it helps you log your weight goals. It’s a great app to help you keep track of your health goals.
If you have a busy schedule, try keeping quick but filling items in your fridge or pantry, like yogurt, cheese, avocado, almonds, or breakfast bars.
START WAKING UP EARLIER
Waking up earlier is so helpful. When you start your day earlier, it gives you time to pray, reflect, and plan. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, you have to start by making God the center. It’s easy to do that when you start your day early.
Start by waking up 30 minutes earlier than you usually do. Then, start waking up an hour early once you get used to it.
Spend the time journaling, drawing, praying, or reading. Whatever it takes to help put things in perspective so that you can conquer the day. You’ll feel more at peace and you’ll have more energy throughout the day.
FOCUS ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health is just as important as physical health. If you’re not doing well internally, it will reflect externally. Just like we feed our bodies good things to keep it healthy, we have to feed our mind and soul good things too. Spending time in prayer and in God’s word is one of the best ways to feed your soul. It’s incredible what turning over our worries and anxieties to God can do for us. God’s word helps to put things in perspective. His word will remind you of what’s true even when lies are swirling around in your mind.
Also, try journaling, writing out your thoughts as they come, or find a trusted friend you can talk to. Maybe the same person you choose as your accountability partner. As soon as negative thoughts come, replace them with positive ones. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. A messed up sleep pattern can seriously affect your mental health.
If you’re facing depression or anxiety or you have suicidal thoughts, see a doctor or a specialist as quickly as you can. They will be able to prescribe the right treatment that can help you. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at 1-800-273-8255.
PURSUE CONSISTENCY, NOT PERFECTION
When you begin to make any lifestyle change, you’ll have days that are great and others that aren’t so great. When most people experience one of those “not-so-great” days, they continue the same way the next day. And the next day. Eventually, three months pass and they’re still not back on track. When you have a tough day, just go back to your goals the next day.
GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
It’s really important to have someone keeping you accountable. That’s how you’ll grow. If you fall off track, that trusted person will be there to help encourage you to get back on track. Choose someone who you trust. They can hold you accountable to your goals and you can hold them accountable to theirs.
I hope these tips helped you. If you plan to use any of them in your daily routine, let me know once you do. I’d love to support you and hear about your journey. If you have any tips, share below.