Are you curious about how to start living a healthy lifestyle? Today I'm sharing the consistent things I do and the personal lifestyle choices I follow to live a healthy lifestyle and feel my best. My hope is to inspire you to find simple ways to live healthier in 2021 too.
I've been sharing posts on healthy living and a healthy living lifestyle on Running in a Skirt for years but I recently realized I've never really shared in one place my philosophy on healthy living and how I keep up with it. With the New Year and many folks trying to kickstart healthy living, I thought I'd share some of my healthy living tips. You might be surprised that some of the "rules" I follow are actually super flexible and give me the grace to live without too many restrictions. I am far, far, far from perfect but I do feel like I'm doing some things that work and are worth sharing.
I also recognize healthy means different things to different people, but I still wanted to share some of my philosophies to hopefully inspire you to start somewhere. My biggest message here is to find out what works for YOU and find healthy habits that are sustainable for your life and preferences.
Here are my top 5 key tips. I go into some of them in more detail below.
- Eat Healthy
- Workout Consistently
- Drink LOTS of Water <--- HERE'S an entire post I wrote on how to actually do this.
- Sleep 8 Hours a Night Whenever Possible <--- Obviously this is just not possible sometimes especially with young kids.
- Find Ways to Improve Yourself and Do it in Small Steps Not Sweeping Changes
Let's dive into living a healthy lifestyle and sticking with it for good!
How to Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle...
Dive into Healthy Eating
I do believe that there is no one perfect diet that fits everyone and different people need different types of fuel to feel their best. One of my biggest tips is to not jump into trends and to really focus on eating as many real, non processed foods as you can. I believe anyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables and that should be a small goal of anyone trying to be healthier daily. Diet or detox fads are honestly just a waste of time.
My personal healthy eating philosophy is that I follow a flexible 80-20 plan. My goal is to eat healthy, veggie-packed food 80 percent of the time, and the rest of the 20 percent is set aside for all that food that makes life more fun. I eat ice cream, cakes, cheese, dips, and just about everything you'd think I shouldn't. I do my best to make the indulgent food smaller portions only 20 perfect of the time AND keep the rest of the food pretty clean. This works for me because I love good food. If I have a splurge meal, I don't fret about it and get back on track the next meal. I try not to define food as good and bad.
The only other dietary restriction I follow is that I'm a Pescatarian, which is a vegetarian who also eats seafood and fish. I haven't eaten chicken, pork, or beef since High School. I wrote a series about being a Pescatarian last year which shared why I made this lifestyle choice and why it works for me. I don't push my diet choices on anyone because I do feel like different diets work for different people. However, If you want to go more plant-based as part of your healthy living journey this year I'd recommend a diet like a pescatarian or flexitarian diet because it allows you to keep some flexibility in what you eat and the goal is to eat more vegetables.
Often a full-time vegan or vegetarian diet is SO restrictive that people hate it and end up quitting. I've seen the same thing with low carb diets that are too restrictive. People end up losing weight fast but it's not something you can maintain for a lifetime.
I'd much rather see someone make of goal of eating more plants 80 perfect of the time and still keep the meat a couple of times a week. In the long term, embrace an eating style that is sustainable and one that you can keep for decades.
- Eat healthy 80% of the time.
- Pick your favorite indulges in reasonable proportions and don't feel guilty about it. Get back on track for the next meal.
- Find a diet that is sustainable, heavy on fruits and vegetables, AND works for your body.
Exercise is a big component of living a healthy lifestyle. For myself, it is as much a part of my physical as mental health. I've found that I do and feel my best when I do some sort of workout 5-6 days a week.
As much as I love to run, I can't run two days in a row. Almost every time I do I end up tweaking something and getting hurt. I'm not super athletic and my body needs a day off of running. With that in mind, I run three days a week. My other workouts consist of a combination of elliptical workouts and short 15-20 minute HIIT workouts I do with the twins. If my body is feeling strong, I do 6 workouts a week but if I'm feeling sore, I'll back off and take two days off in a row to heal. I love yoga and would really enjoy going back to a studio yoga class but between the twin's beings so young and the current health situation, it's going to be a while before I get back to that.
This is what I do BUT I feel that everyone has to find some sort of exercise they enjoy for it to be sustainable. If you hate to run, don't do it! You can bike, HITT, do a grout fitness class, or even power walk. The goal is to find a few different ways to stay active and mix it up to keep yourself engaged and interested. Don't make it too hard on yourself or come up with a crazy schedule you can't keep up with. It's all about finding a way to keep with it for the long haul.
- Find an exercise you actually enjoy (or don't dread) doing.
- Make a sustainable schedule that isn't so intense you get hurt.
- Schedule time for your workouts and commit to it like a work appointment.
Make Small & Sustainable Changes
I feel that it's important to make small changes to reach big healthy living goals. It took me years of trial and error to reach a rhythm with the right amount of food and exercise that works for my body.
It is so hard to overhaul everything you are doing just because the calendar switched to 2021. If you are wondering how to start living a healthy lifestyle this year start small. If you want to run don't sign up for a marathon, sign up for a local (or virtual) 5K and train smart so you don't get hurt. Here's my advice on how to start running and NOT hate it.
If you need to drink less alcohol, maybe start by cutting back to every other day or just weekends.
If you want to start eating better, start by adding an extra serving of vegetables to all of your meals. Find a few new SIMPLE recipes to try a month. Over time you can add more and get more creative with your cooking. I firmly believe that small and sustainable changes, not sweeping changes, are the best way to actually permanently live a healthy lifestyle.
- Don't change everything at once.
- Don't dive into a huge fitness challenge without doing a small one first.
- If all else fails, just find a way to eat more vegetables and drink more water. 🙂
The point I want to get across is that ANYONE can be a better version of themselves. You don't have to make it so hard that you quit.
My personal way of healthy living I shared here may not work for you (it's ok if you LOVE steak!) but my point is to find a way to eat well and workout in a way that does work for you. Healthy living is all about being healthier and happier and even small changes can make a big difference.
You CAN do this, my friends!
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