Change can be challenging and there may be setbacks along the way; to stay motivated and stay on the path towards positive transformation it is key to keep an optimistic approach and remember why you want to alter your lifestyle.
Make small changes gradually. If you are used to consuming eight cups of coffee daily, gradually decrease the number until your habits shift.
1. Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
An eating lifestyle rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is vital to living a healthy life. They contain fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals - plant chemicals which may offer protection from certain diseases - making a diet full of fruits and veggies an essential part of maintaining good health. Make an effort to try new varieties regularly!
Strive to consume at least five servings (around 400 grams) of fruit and vegetables daily, including dark green veggies, red and orange veggies, beans and peas. If fresh produce is unavailable to you, select canned or frozen fruits and veggies that are low in sugar, salt and fat content for best results.
Learn the difference between fruit and vegetables. Many foods you consider vegetables - like tomatoes, bell peppers and kiwis - are actually fruits! Vitamin C is an important nutrient found in fruits and vegetables that helps manage inflammation of arterial walls while stimulating production of nitric oxide to lower blood pressure.
Add fruit and veggies to your meals and snacks by topping sandwiches with cut-up vegetables, serving a salad at lunch, and having a side of veggies and dip for dinner. Or you could try adding a vegetable smoothie into your morning routine or offering up mixed vegetable bowls alongside your favourite curry dish.
2. Drink Water
Your body is approximately 60 percent water, making hydration essential when exercising or spending time outside. Water is an ideal beverage as it doesn't contain calories and helps hydrate, regulate temperature and flush away waste products from your system. Be wary of sugary beverages or caffeine as these may actually dehydrate you further.
Keep a bottle of water handy at all times to stay hydrated, and add an exciting splash of lemon, lime or strawberry juice for an exciting twist. Or add fruit-flavored ice cubes for some added flair.
At minimum, aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily to meet your hydration needs. If tea or low-fat milk are your preferred beverages instead of soda or sugary juices.
Not only should you drink plenty of water, but eating foods rich in water content such as strawberries (96 percent), cucumbers (92.5 percent), tomatoes (92%) and arugula (83.5 percent) is also key to staying hydrated. Furthermore, when selecting protein sources such as lean meats, beans, nuts, tofu or legumes over fatty cuts of beef is also recommended to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Be patient as you work towards creating new healthy habits; keep reminding yourself why you decided to change in case of roadblocks along the way!
3. Eat Whole Grains
Have you heard about how whole grains can benefit our health? They provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates - the body's preferred energy source - as well as antioxidants - plant compounds which protect against disease while improving bowel health and protecting us against future complications (2). Compared with refined grains, whole grains have been associated with decreased risks for heart disease, high blood cholesterol levels and diabetes (2).
When purchasing food, always read the label to ensure you're receiving whole grains as your first ingredient. Look for "whole" before each grain name or look for products marked with the Whole Grain Stamp; this symbol indicates that at least 51% of its components, such as bran, germ and endosperm, come from natural sources within that food product.
Bran, the outer coatings of most grains, contains soluble fiber which promotes digestive health while providing B vitamins, iron and magnesium. Germ cells contain protein, minerals and healthy fats while endosperm provides energy from starchy sources; eating whole grain diets has been associated with lower risks of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and chronic inflammation (3).
4. Exercise Regularly
Living a healthy lifestyle could mean different things to different people: for one person it might mean taking an early morning brisk walk before work and spending quality time with loved ones; while for another it might mean training for two marathons annually while following a keto diet plan. What matters is setting realistic goals and sticking to them - be that walking one mile daily or training for marathons.
Exercise can prevent health problems, improve your mood and help you maintain a healthy weight. Exercise increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol while decreasing unhealthy triglycerides - all factors which help lower risk for heart disease.
No need to stress if you can't find 30 minutes for exercise every day - try setting aside 15 to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days throughout the week instead.
Choose activities you enjoy and try to add more activity into your everyday life, whether that means taking the stairs instead of an elevator, cycling around town or gardening in your yard. Find an exercise buddy who can keep you accountable and encourage you to stick with this new habit; and give yourself short-term rewards after workouts to increase motivation - such as a hot bath or extra episode of your favorite show as ways of celebrating when your goals have been reached!
5. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is just as crucial to our overall wellbeing as eating nutritious food, engaging in regular physical activity, and prioritizing mental wellness. Studies indicate that not getting enough rest puts individuals at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
Sleep helps the body produce hormones that support and maintain healthy systems, such as the brain and immune system. An inadequate amount of restful slumber over time may have an adverse impact on how you think, work and interact with others.
Consistency and following a healthy bedtime routine is the key to getting restful nights of restful sleep. Strive to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time each day (including weekends), which helps reinforce your circadian rhythm and keeps the room dark, quiet and cool with no electronics present; avoid large meals or caffeine consumption directly before bedtime for best results.
Sleep can provide your body with energy to tackle physical activities and school assignments without feeling exhausted and foggy-headed in the mornings, making exercising easier. Plus, adequate restorative sleep helps protect balance and prevent falls - the more often you prioritize sleeping well, the higher your chance is of living a healthy lifestyle!
6. Don’t Smoke
Avoiding smoking is one of the single most essential steps toward leading a healthy life. Smoking has been linked with numerous illnesses, including lung cancer, respiratory disease and cardiovascular conditions; furthermore it increases your risk for early death while diminishing quality of life. Quitting is easier than you might think with plenty of resources available to assist you along this journey.
Smoking fills your body with harmful toxins that damage DNA and increase the risk of certain cancers, making you age faster than expected and possibly leading to psoriasis, an itchy condition characterized by red patches on skin that has itchy scales all over. In addition, smoking causes irreparable damage to teeth and gums causing stains, odors and bad breath.
Stopping smoking may be challenging, but it's worth your while. By quitting you will experience improved energy and reduced risks of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer - while saving money and helping protect the environment. For help getting started speak to a physician or seek support group meetings; even small steps like going for a 5-minute walk count as progress!
7. Go Green
Going green reduces waste production and energy use, helping the planet be healthier for everyone to live on, as well as helping mitigate climate change caused by human activities.
Start being green by recycling paper, plastic and glass products; or try buying products made with recycled material. Another effective strategy to be greener is planting trees and cleaning up beaches.
Carpool or take public transit. In addition, use less gas and electricity by weather stripping your home, air-drying clothes, weather stripping windows, weather stripping your driveway and making use of renewable energy sources such as solar panels.
Finally, to reduce plastic bag use you can bring cloth bags or purchase reusable ones with you or buy reusable bags instead. Furthermore, to minimize trash creation you could donate old clothing or furniture, cut back on impulse purchases, compost at home or recycle scrap paper; or create a compost bin at home or recycle paper scraps; you could even make use of an online bill pay system or encourage children to create their own wrapping papers from old magazines, newspapers or scrap cloth.