How Can I Change to a Healthy Lifestyle?
1. Cook More
In my opinion, we can only truly be the custodian of our health if most of the food we eat is made in our kitchens. I’m not naive enough to suggest everything that passes our lips to be made from scratch, as there will always be a case for eating/dining out but relying predominately on outsourced food is not only expensive but the equivalent of putting your health in the hands of someone else.
That someone else being a manufacturer, who probably doesn’t have your health at the fore of their mind when designing their product. So my advice is to take control and ownership over your health by increasing the amount of home-cooked food you eat across the week.
2. Lean on a Nutrition/Health Coach
Getting sound advice on the most practical, effective and sustainable strategy for your health will save you money, anguish, frustration and a fair amount of head-scratching. Our ability to Google search ‘best diet’ is a blessing and a curse. Out of the millions of articles that the search reveals, together with adverts and pop-ups, it’s no surprise that people go around and around in circles – consistently focusing on the wrong thing. My advice would be to not waste time and money on being stuck in a holding pattern but get solid, researched-back health/nutrition advice from someone who can support and guide you.
3. Break the Intangibles
There are two sides to adopting a healthy lifestyle. The first is the ‘tangible’ stuff, the nuts and bolts of a health strategy, which in essence is understanding the founding principles. The other side is the ‘intangible’ characterised by our patterns of behaviour and habits. The latter is often the side that will make or break adherence to a new strategy. We might like to believe we are in control of our mind and self will, however, we are also victims of decisions being made unconsciously, ones driven by hormones, neurotransmitters and gut bacteria, not to mention tendencies, proclivities and addictions. It’s crucial to understand the founding principles of a health strategy, however, it’s contending/managing the above that will inevitably throw you off course or not. I worked as an exercise specialist for over a decade and I often think that if I had my time again I would offer my service in conjunction with a psychologist specialising in patterns of behaviour and in particular food behaviour as this is pivotal to changing habits and adhering to a new positive health strategy long term.
4. It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint
Becoming healthy or unhealthy for that matter doesn’t happen as a result of one bad meal or one lousy week. Our health outcomes are the accumulation of our choices over a long period.
There is comfort in knowing this as it can take the pressure off us somewhat and not set us up for failure.
Think about your health as your masterplan which includes all decisions involving nutrition, sleep and movement combined with how you exist in the world – your physical environment, work, family, relationships etc. And your masterplan (depending on what age you start) might be 20,30,40,50+ years and the health outcomes you’ll inherit are largely (90%) based on what you do consistently over that period. The role of our inherited genes on our health outcomes accounts for about 10%, the real determinant of your health is how you walk through this life.
4. Don’t Beat Yourself up
Following on from the last point, don’t tie yourself up in knots if you miss the gym, have too many wines or eat pizza. Those actions have little ramifications to your masterplan, merely a drop in the ocean if you are doing the ‘good’ stuff most of the time.
5. Move in a Way you Enjoy
As I’ve stated time and time again, fitness isn’t the one-stop solution for our health or weight management, by and large nutrition and sleep take care of this.
The fitness industry would like us to believe that we can look and feel great from 4 minutes of ‘ab roller’ a day but that’s not how it is. It’s not to say that exercise doesn’t have value, it most certainly does, however, I believe we place too much onus on exercise being the solution in Australia.
So now the heat is off ‘training yourself healthy’, select a mode of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, this could be walking, volleyball, gardening, swimming, golf, surfing, or anything. Stripping back the gravity that exercise has as a driver of health and weight management means it can also be a vehicle to be social too.
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