You probably know how to live healthy. So much of the lifestyle is common sense. But would you know how to start living healthy after years of turning a blind eye to your health?
Some things, like genetics and age, you obviously can’t control. Most things regarding your health, however, you can. And the first step to learning how to live healthy is realizing the importance of those things within your control.
Your day-to-day choices can make all the difference between living a long, energy-filled life and trying to stay one step ahead of chronic disease.
If you have reached the point of “enough is enough” and are wondering how to start living healthy in a doable, sustainable way, read on. It’s never too late to make a change for the better.
In order to know where you need to go, you need to know where you are. Establish a baseline so you can track your progress and focus on areas that may have more serious implications for your health.
Yes, this means approaching reality fearlessly. But choosing not to look at the truth won’t make it go away. So get out your wellness journal, enter today’s date, and get ready to document a great story of living healthy.
Here are a few measurements you will want to document at the start of your journey and regularly thereafter:
- Your weight and waist circumference.
Your body mass index (BMI), which relates your weight to your height, can give clues to your level of body fat and risks for diseases like type 2 diabetes. A healthy range for BMI is 8.5-24.9, and for waist measurements is no more than 40” for men and 35” for women.
- Your blood numbers.
Even if your annual physical is a few months off, you can always request a blood panel to get your starting values for cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood glucose. Document all your numbers every time you have a blood panel done, and include the breakdown of cholesterol into its components (HDL, LDL, VLDL), as well as your cholesterol risk ratio.
- Blood pressure.
If you don’t have a blood pressure cuff or machine at home, you can check your blood pressure at most pharmacies and fitness centers.
Once you have your baseline measurements, it’s time to learn how to start living healthy. Here are some general guidelines that are completely doable and effective without being overwhelming. Remember, your goal is a lifestyle shift for lifetime health.
- Set a goal.
Set yourself up to succeed by setting attainable goals and breaking the big steps down into tiny ones. I can do anything for 30 minutes. I can give up alcohol for one month. I can walk every morning for one week.
- Focus on one change at a time.
You may have dreams of running a marathon, learning to meditate and becoming vegan. But going from 0 to 26.2 at the same time you are becoming a transcendental vegan will only lead to defeat.
What’s the easiest thing for you to focus on today? This week? This month? Is it eliminating processed foods from your diet? Then get into a new eating routine until it feels habitual. Is it rekindling a favorite exercise routine? Then focus on that until it’s part of your natural rhythm, and progress from there.
- Make a commitment.
Write or speak the commitment to yourself and one or two people who will support you.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Give your immune system a boost from the vitamins and antioxidants, and your digestive and circulatory systems a cleaning spree from the fiber. Shoot for five to nine servings a day.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Water not only cleanses the blood of toxins, it’s essential for normal cellular function and fat metabolism. Water will also help curb those pesky cravings if you drink a glassful before eating. The benefits of water are plentiful, so aim for at least 80 oz. a day.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or one hour at least three times per week. Wondering how much you should be exercising based on your age? Here are some guidelines. And don’t forget the importance of weight-bearing exercise to maintain muscle mass and bone density.
- Have a plan in place.
Wanting to live healthy is an important awareness. Committing to live healthy is an essential first step. Having an actual plan for how to start living healthy is what gets you off the starting blocks and keeps you on track for long-term success.
Look for a plan that treats you as the unique person you are and customizes your steps accordingly.
The process of losing weight and living healthy is more than just physical. It’s emotional, social, and even spiritual, as well. An effective plan will address all those components and offer you ongoing support for the long-term.
It’s never too late to learn how to start living healthy. And there’s no better time than this very moment to remind yourself that you’re worth the effort.