Thinking about adopting a healthy lifestyle? Congratulations! There are so many reasons for adopting a healthy lifestyle, with benefits that reach across your whole life! I'm a registered dietitian and I would love to help you get started with your new habits.
But first, a head's up: my goal is never to tell you what I think you should do, but instead to help you find a healthy balance that works for you. Fair warning, my tips may be a little bit different than those you've seen elsewhere...
Reasons for Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle
There are so many reasons you might be interested in for adopting a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living benefits are vast! But here are some benefits that you may or may not have thought about before:
- Improved physical energy
- Decreased risk of disease
- More energy
- Increased happiness
- Feeling better mentally
- More time with family and friends
- Saving money
- More focus, clarity and ambition
- Better sleep
- Improved stress management
- More fun
- New hobbies
Tips to Get Started as You're Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle
Like I mentioned above, these tips are a little different than what you're going to see in other articles about adopting a healthy lifestyle. I've read a few (which inspired this post!), but they all seem to center around restriction and telling you what not to do or what not to eat.
This doesn't help you. All that does is set you up for an all-or-nothing mentality, which can quickly get overwhelming, defeating, and make it easy to throw the towel in on your new habits before you even get started.
It also can feel really overwhelming. You don't need to know everything there is about healthy habits and healthy eating to get started!
What's actually going to help you are my seven tips, as unorthodox as they are. Because my education, expertise, and experience as a dietitian has shown me that these tips are what's really important as you're starting to create a healthier lifestyle.
1. Know Your Why
Okay, so you know you want to get healthy, but before you jump in, I want you to ask yourself, "why?"
Why are you here? Is there a reason you're thinking about a healthier lifestyle? Why is this important for you? What's your motivation for these changes?
Maybe some of the reasons for adopting a healthier lifestyle above resonated. But make it personal. Your why should reflect your values and what's important to you.
So maybe your why isn't so much "to lose weight," but instead "to be able to actively play with my kids and not just watch them play from the sidelines anymore."
Knowing your specific why will help you to not just get started, but will help keep you focused and motivated as it guides your journey.
2. Don't Confuse Health with Weight
But wait, isn't weight and weight loss important?
Well, it depends.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, but weight loss is rarely a great motivator by itself. The number on the scale is unreliable. It 100% will fluctuate, no matter what, simply because you're human. Getting fixated on that number often leads to frustration, hence why it's not a great motivator.
But motivation aside, weight loss is not synonymous with health.
The scale could change, but other health measures, like your lab values and blood pressure, may not improve or could even get worse.
No matter what someone's weight or BMI is, it's only one measure, and there are many more measures that can help give a more comprehensive look at your health. (Like blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, insulin levels, other labs, athletic endurance, and more.)
Are there correlations between health and weight? Yes, but correlations are not causation.
P.S. Statistically research shows that often just a 5% reduction of weight alone can make significant impacts on one's health.
3. Focus on Behaviors, Not Outcomes
It's okay to desire weight loss, or any other outcome. But switching your focus from outcomes to the new habits you're creating and actions you're taking is more beneficial. It's actually these daily behaviors that will create change and can lead to the health outcomes you desire.
So what kind of behaviors should you focus on? Health-promoting behaviors are things like:
- Getting adequate sleep
- Managing stress
- Eating enough fruits and vegetables
- Consuming enough protein and fiber
- Hydrating appropriately
- Even something like brushing your teeth or buckling your seat belt can be considered a healthy behavior!
These behaviors are what can, with time, lead to other outcomes you may desire.
4. Can You Do it Forever?
One of the most important things to ask yourself when you're building habits for a healthy lifestyle is, can you do it for life?
Sure, you could probably stick with keto or intermittent fasting for a short period, but can you see yourself doing that forever?
If not, remember: temporary methods = temporary results.
5. Add More
My absolute favorite mantra when it comes to healthy habits is, "add more!" So much wellness and diet culture noise focuses on restriction, telling you what you can't have or need to cut out of your diet.
(In actuality, restriction is what actually creates problems and why you find yourself trying diet after diet! Learn more about the diet cycle here, including tips on what to do instead!)
But what if instead of approaching your new healthy lifestyle from a place of lack and deprivation, you instead approached it with abundance and care, focusing on how you can add more?
Focusing on what you can add is going to help you create a much better mindset. It's more enjoyable and research shows you're going to be much more likely to stick to you're new habits, too.
6. Start Small
This is cheesy, but Rome wasn't built in a day! And things like your eating habits, cooking skills, athletic abilities, and more won't change overnight.
This is also why you don't need a giant list telling you everything you need to stop doing. I'm guessing right now, off the top of your head, you can think of a couple small changes you already know you want to improve. So start there! You don't have to have a plan for everything before you get started, you just need to take the first step.
Always remember that you are capable of so, so much! You can climb the highest mountains with all you will achieve! But you still can only take one step at time.
7. Remember It's Not All or Nothing
A healthy lifestyle is never all or nothing. It's about finding a healthy balance that works for you, creating a healthy relationship with food and your body.
Focus on eating foods and creating habits that make you feel good.
I love a good analogy, so I'm going to share one here: an election isn't won with every vote, but the majority. Your health is the same way. It's your overall habits and overall eating pattern that matters most.
Have questions? Drop them in the comments below, I'd love to help you create a healthier relationship with food and your body so you can be your healthiest and happiest self!
And if you liked this post, don't forget to check out some others! This post on positive health affirmations is a great one to read as you're getting started with your new healthy lifestyle! And be sure to check out ways to work with me if you're looking for more resources and support on your health journey!