Many of us have goals to improve our health, but we struggle turning those goals into actions for a healthier lifestyle. If you’re wondering how to make lifestyle changes, step 1 is to determine what your goals are.
Are you generally interested in how to be healthy? Maybe you’re trying to avoid health problems, feel better, have more energy. Or you might have more specific goals, like taking part in a sport, being able to play with your children or grandchildren, sleeping better, managing diabetes, reducing your risk for heart disease, or decreasing medications. Whatever your reasons, once you’ve identified ways to be healthy, you will have an easier time sticking to a program.
Here are 10 healthy living tips for making meaningful change:
1. Focus on healthy lifestyle changes.
If your lifestyle changes include healthy weight management, you need to recognize it isn't just about depriving yourself of calories. Consider what else you can do to help with weight management. Are you exercising regularly? Getting a good night's sleep? Engaging in other stress-reducing activities? Don’t focus just on physical health; mental health is just as important to overall wellness. Stress is not your friend when you are trying to shed some pounds or inches, because it results in increased levels of the hormone, cortisol, which results in increased carb cravings, which can negate these healthy lifestyle tips.
2. Set realistic and achievable goals.
The best goals are ones that you can easily measure. Setting unrealistic goals will result only in disappointment and may cause you to give up. If your goal involves a set number of pounds lost, aiming for losing 1 to 2 pounds of body weight weekly is a reasonable weight loss goal.
3. Set one goal that has nothing to do with weight.
For instance, you might want to fit into a particular article of clothing that has historically been too tight. Or maybe you want to keep up with your dog when you're out for a brisk walk – without getting winded. Goals focused on healthy living are more sustainable than those driven only by weight loss.
4. Engage in daily structured activities, including exercise.
The more exercise becomes part of your daily routine, the easier it will be to get it done. If you can, exercise first thing in the morning before you have time to come up with excuses not to do it. Laying out your exercise clothes the night before can be a very helpful morning motivation.
5. Make healthy eating a daily activity.
Many healthy lifestyle tips involve adapting what you eat to include healthier whole foods. Healthy eating doesn't have to be boring – taking care to mix up your meals is a big component to sticking with your program.
6. Be sure you’re adopting habits you can keep.
As you embark on a weight management program, be realistic. Will you be able to commit to these changes? The problem with most diet fads is that they simply aren't sustainable for the average person. Healthy lifestyle tips such as maintaining a balanced diet of healthy whole foods while still enjoying some of your favorites will make you more likely to stick with your new lifestyle long-term.
7. Adopt new habits slowly.
For instance, if you know you can't give up your morning latte, then try having it with nonfat milk and no sugary flavored syrups. It might seem jarring at first but in a few weeks, your old high-calorie caramel latte will probably taste way too sweet. Once your taste buds get used to not having excess added sugars or artificial sweeteners, food and drink that is naturally sweet will taste even sweeter.
8. Enlist support from family and friends.
This is probably one of the most important healthy “tips of the day.” Even if your family is not going to participate in the specific diet plan you have in mind, you want to be sure they are supportive and not trying to coerce you into going out for pizza or ice cream every night. If you have a family member or friend who will be participating in a weight management program with you, so much the better. You can give each other encouragement, share healthy living tips, and hold each other accountable – maybe with healthy tips of the day in a text message each morning.
9. Stock your kitchen with the foods you need to get started.
Having the right foods readily available makes choosing and planning healthier meals easier. Included are specific food lists you can adopt as grocery lists to get started on your journey.
10. Set a specific start date.
Now that you’ve read how to change your lifestyle to be healthy, there’s no time like the present to get started. In no time, you’ll see how improved health will make you feel happier. And when you’re happier, you’re motivated to continue making healthy choices.