Saturday, June 13, 2015

3 Pillars of a Healthy Lifestyle (and why you can't have one without the other)

I'm so excited! Today is the very first day my health column will appear in one of the local newspapers. If you're here today because of it, thanks for checking out A Daily Dose of Fit! For those of you that don't have access to the paper, I decided to share the column here, too. Enjoy!

Good health can be a deeply personal thing. We all long for perfection, but the struggle is real. While the textbook definition of “perfectly healthy” is truly hard to achieve, we can all get pretty darn close by incorporating three very important pillars. To live a healthy lifestyle, you need good nutrition, a lot of movement and buckets of positivity. Let’s discuss: 

Food can be very delicious. It’s also social, fun to make…and one of our biggest industries. This might seem like a good thing (options galore when and where you need them), but it can work against you. To incorporate good nutrition into your healthy lifestyle, you have to be aware of the choices you’re making at meal time. And you have to balance those choices correctly. You need to eat clean, whole foods (most of the time) and drink plenty of water.

Easier said than done, right?

Some tips: Plan ahead. Make detailed grocery lists. Keep a cup of water within arm’s reach at all times. Educate yourself on good versus bad options. Speak with your doctor and/or meet with a registered dietitian. Be mindful of your portions and always eat your fruits and veggies. But most importantly, leave room for the occasional treat. Again, it’s all about balance.

Nutrition is, by far, the hardest pillar to incorporate, but it can be done. You have to figure out what works for you. Be honest, realistic and mindful of what you’re eating because everything you eat is a pinpoint on the road map of your healthy life.

Additional pinpoints can be earned with movement. While it’s true that abs are made in the kitchen, they can be defined at the gym. Or, generally speaking, with movement. Your body was made to move in some way, shape or form. We all have limitations—discuss these with your physician before trying anything new in or out of the gym. Then, get up and go. Walk, run, bike, or swim. Play tennis with friends or tag with the kids. Walk the dog, dance while you clean.

Just move. And do it often.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggests the average, issue-free individual needs at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week. If that number intimidates you, it shouldn’t. You can hire a certified personal trainer or enlist the help of a friend to hold you accountable. Experiment with various forms of activity until you find one that makes you happy. Fitness can and should be fun—that’s where the magic happens.

That’s where your food intake and daily activity levels combine to produce results you can see and feel. That’s where healthy living falls into place. Of course, you need that third pillar, too.

You won’t get anywhere if you don’t believe in yourself. Forgo self-doubt. Stop judging yourself. Instead, believe that you can make a difference in your own life. Key word: “your” life. This isn’t about other people. It’s not about you falling into a certain image or fitting into a specific size of clothing. It’s about you feeling good AND feeling good about yourself. It’s about you being your best AND giving yourself the best.

Focus on YOU.
You deserve that.

Healthy living is a journey with many ups and downs, but it’s a journey you get to take each and every day. So figure out what works for you and roll with it. Remember: Eat right, move often and believe in yourself.

That’s your starting point.
That’s your sticking point.
That’s you living healthy.

Question: What is the hardest pillar for you to incorporate? What are you doing to make it easier?

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