How to live a healthy lifestyle with just three simple changes! Once you incorporate these tips and habits into your daily routine, you’ll be well on your way to improving your long-term health and overall wellness.
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Do you like the idea of living a healthy lifestyle but don’t really know where to start?
At first, living a healthy lifestyle can seem pretty overwhelming, if not impossible. I mean, have you ever counted the number of fast-food restaurants in a single shopping area? There are eight (eight!!) fast-food restaurants within a one-mile stretch where I typically do most of my shopping.
But finding healthy food options isn’t our only barrier to a healthy lifestyle. Unless we happen to work in a labor-intensive profession, we probably sit at a desk for most of the day. That’s fine if we make up for it by being active when we get home and on the weekends. Unfortunately, the waistlines of most Americans tell me that this is rarely the case.
And let’s not forget the breakneck pace at which many Americans live their lives. They’re busier than ever, and their activity-packed calendars come at the expense of a good night’s sleep.
We’re putting unhealthy foods into our bodies, staying sedentary for most of the day, and sacrificing our sleep so we can keep up with the pace of everyday life.
The odds are stacked against us, friend.
But before you resign yourself to a lifetime of poor health, let me reassure you that there is hope. You can live a healthy lifestyle despite the obscene number of fast-food restaurants around you, despite working in a job that keeps you sedentary, and despite having a jam-packed schedule that keeps you busy 24/7.
All you really need is a solid strategy and a few tips to help you make it happen. Luckily, I have you covered! Let’s get started.
But First, determine your “why”
Before we dive deep into the components of living a healthy lifestyle, let’s talk about your motivation. Why do you want to live a healthy lifestyle? Is it so you can look good in a bikini? So you can turn heads every time you enter a store?
While it’s perfectly okay to want to look good, a superficial “why” will only take you so far.
If, on the other hand, you want to avoid the heart disease or diabetes that plagues every woman in your family, then you have a pretty compelling “why.”
As long as you have a clear, persuasive reason for wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, then you’ll be more likely to make it happen.
Now let’s talk about the three most important things you need to do to live a healthy lifestyle.
3 Simple Ways to Live a Healthy Lifestyle
There are lots of things you can do to live a healthy lifestyle. Not smoking, avoiding alcohol, and managing stress are all very important components of a healthy lifestyle.
But the three actions that will have the biggest impact on your long-term health are cleaning up your diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep. Let’s explore them in detail, shall we?
Clean up your diet
Cleaning up your diet is THE most important change you can make for your long-term health. You can exercise all day every day and still suffer from debilitating diseases if all you put into your body is junk.
I love this quote from Dr. Colin Campbell:
“First, nutrition is the master key to human health. Second, what most of us think of as proper nutrition—isn’t.”
Until you put good food into your body, you cannot achieve optimum health. But what is good food? Dr. Campbell mentioned that mainstream nutrition actually isn’t all that nutritious. So what should we be eating instead?
What a Healthy Diet Really Looks Like
According to Dr. Campbell’s book The China Study, whole plant foods are what we should eat for long-term health. This includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in their whole or minimally processed forms.
Dr. Campbell also says that we should avoid animal products and overly processed foods as much as possible. Contrary to what you’ve heard from mainstream nutrition, these foods are killing us. How? They activate and feed disease cells in our body.
In fact, Dr. Campbell found that he could actually turn on and turn off the growth of cancer in lab rats just by adjusting the amount of animal protein they were fed! Pretty wild, huh? But what’s more significant is that he saw the same relationship in humans when he undertook a large-scale study in China.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading The China Study for yourself. It will challenge everything you’ve ever been taught about the relationship between food and disease!
And if you want to know more about a whole food, plant-based diet, these posts will tell you all about it:
- What Is a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet?
- How to Start a Plant-based Diet: The Ultimate Transition Guide for Beginners
Even if you don’t want to commit to going completely plant-based, simply increasing your intake of whole plant foods will still be a significant improvement.
Note: Josh and I saw firsthand what a whole food, plant-based diet could do for our health. After taking the plunge in 2016, my irritable bowel syndrome was completely gone, and Josh was able to heal his autoimmune disease! You can read our story here: Why We Transitioned to a Plant-based Lifestyle
The next step toward a healthy lifestyle is exercise. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise has plenty of other health benefits.
- helps maintain flexibility and range of motion
- improves balance and stability
- boosts mood
- reduces stress and anxiety
- maintains bone mass and prevents osteoporosis
- increases energy
- builds and maintains muscle tone
- promotes better sleep
- can reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke (but remember, a plant-based diet is critical for preventing disease as well!)
Those are some pretty good benefits! I don’t know about you, but I’m motivated to go for a brisk walk now.
So how much exercise do you need? The standard recommendation is 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, then you’ll likely need more than that combined with the good food choices we talked about earlier.
But before you run out and get a gym membership, let’s talk about some free or cheap alternatives.
- walk or run at a park
- find some local trails to walk or hike
- exercise in your living room using exercise DVDs
- use the free gym at work if your employer has one
- find exercise channels on YouTube
- buy exercise gear such as weights and resistance bands for cheap at stores such as TJMaxx or Ross
- try Cassey Ho’s PIIT28 workout program (It’s awesome! I highly recommend you try PIIT28 if you want a program that’s intense, fun, and doesn’t take long to complete each day.)
Seriously, you don’t need a gym membership to exercise. Especially if you’re just starting out, don’t waste your money on a membership that you likely won’t use very often. Instead, start small with some free or cheap options. The point here is to get moving however and whenever you can!
Get plenty of sleep
I’m always shocked when I hear how little sleep some people get. I’d be meaner than a striped snake if I tried to operate on four hours (or less) of sleep!
And the weird thing is that people seem to be bragging when they announce their unhealthy sleep schedule, like it’s something to be proud of. I’ll never understand it. There’s nothing brag-worthy about depriving our body of the sleep it so desperately needs.
If you truly want your body to function optimally for an entire lifetime, then you have to give it everything it needs. A non-negotiable is adequate rest.
But how much is enough?
The generally accepted amount is between seven and nine hours per night for healthy adults. Personally, I function best when I get between eight and nine hours of sleep per night.
If this amount of sleep seems impossible to you given your busy schedule, then it may be time to make some hard decisions. My friend, it’s time to unload.
How to Make Time for Sleep
As women, I think we have a hard time saying “no” out of fear of letting people down. We constantly take on more and more obligations even when we’re stretched to our absolute max. It’s no wonder so many women are stressed and frazzled!
But when we take on so many obligations that we sacrifice our sleep, that’s when our bodies pay the price. Our bodies cannot, I repeat CANNOT function properly without enough sleep.
So here’s what I want you to do. Take out a pen and a piece of paper and write down every obligation, activity, or commitment that requires your time. If you need to, refer to your calendar so you don’t forget anything.
Now, start crossing off the things that aren’t 100% necessary. Going to work, feeding your family, doing laundry, and having a date night with your spouse are all necessary. Heading up a fundraiser at your church, baking a cake for your friend’s cousin’s birthday party, and watching your neighbor’s kids aren’t.
As you cross those unnecessary things off of your list, you’ll feel a sense of relief and freedom. And when you actually remove yourself from those activities and commitments, you’ll finally have more time for the things that truly matter, such as adequate sleep!
Moving forward, don’t ever feel guilty for saying “no” when people ask you to do things. I used to have a hard time with that, but then I learned that sometimes “no” is the most beautiful word in the English language. You may not have thought of it this way before, but saying “no” actually allows you to say “yes” to the important things in your life, such as sleep and more time with your family.
Never feel guilty for doing what’s best for your health and well-being, even if it means saying “no” often.
How to Get Better Quality Sleep
But what if time isn’t your only barrier to adequate sleep? Maybe you have a hard time getting quality sleep even though you have a solid eight hours to devote to it.
I’m not a sleep expert, but I can recognize unhealthy sleep habits when I see them. Are you guilty of any of these?
- Watching TV, scrolling through social media, or watching videos on your phone or tablet within one hour of bedtime
- Eating a heavy meal late in the evening
- Drinking sugary or caffeinated beverages in the afternoon or evening
- Snacking before bedtime
- Taking a nap during the day
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed or pillow
- Varying your sleep schedule (i.e. staying up late then sleeping in on the weekends)
- Staying sedentary all day
All of these are barriers to quality sleep. Why not establish some healthy sleep habits instead?
Here are some good sleep habits you can start to get better quality sleep at night.
- Wind down with quiet, relaxing activities about an hour before bedtime. Read an actual book (not a tablet or other electronic device), do some light yoga, write, take a bath, etc.
- Clean up your diet. Eat whole plant foods that your body needs and avoid processed, sugary, greasy, caffeinated, and unhealthy foods as much as possible. People who adopt a whole food, plant-based diet often report better sleep, so you may find that these foods help you sleep better too.
- Adjust your eating patterns by avoiding heavy meals late in the day. Also, avoid snacking within one hour of bedtime.
- Expend lots of energy during the day so you’re ready for sleep when bedtime rolls around. This means exercising regularly and avoiding naps.
- Stick to a sleep schedule so your body develops a routine. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Make your bedroom a great place to sleep. Your mattress and pillow should be both comfortable and supportive, and your room should be dark, cool, and quiet.
By adopting these healthy sleep habits and avoiding the unhealthy ones I mentioned earlier, you’ll be well on your way to getting the quality sleep your body craves.
Tips to Make It All Happen
There are a few things you can do to make living a healthy lifestyle easier.
Make sure you know what’s at stake so you’ll be more likely to stick with a healthy lifestyle. I mentioned it before, but you definitely need to check out The China Study. The information contained in it has the ability to change your life. No joke!
Dr. Colin Campbell talks about how the standard American diet is literally killing us. He also offers a solution that can prevent, halt, and even reverse serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In my opinion, it’s the best resource out there if you truly want to live a healthy lifestyle.
In addition to knowing why you need to adopt healthy eating habits, you also need some resources where you can find healthy recipes to support your new healthy lifestyle. Some of my favorites are The Garden Grazer, Hallelujah Diet, and Oh She Glows. Those websites will give you all sorts of recipe inspiration for your new journey.
Set Aside Time to Plan Your Week
Each week or weekend, set aside some time to plan out your whole week. Decide what you’ll eat, determine when you’ll exercise, and arrange your schedule so that you have enough time to get plenty of sleep each night.
If you need some help planning your meals, be sure to check out a post I wrote that walks you through the meal planning process. You can read it here:
Do Some Prep Work to Save Time
If your schedule stays pretty full during the week, then you may not have much time to cook healthy meals every day. That’s where meal prepping comes in handy! Once you determine which meals you want to eat that week, you can prepare some or all of them on the weekend.
You might find that preparing whole meals and storing them in your fridge and freezer works well for you. Or you may determine that you only need to prep the ingredients that take the longest to cook, such as rice, quinoa, or baked potatoes.
Any prep work you can do ahead of time on the weekend will save you valuable time during the week. Plus, you’ll be less likely to default to takeout if the bulk of the meal is already prepared and waiting in your fridge!
Remind Yourself of Your “Why”
When it seems easier to fall back on your old lifestyle, remind yourself of why you wanted to live a healthy lifestyle in the first place. Maybe you could write your reason on a piece of paper and post it on your fridge so you can easily see it each day.
As long as you keep your “why” in the forefront of your mind, it will guide your daily decisions and motivate you to stick with your new healthy lifestyle, even when things seem hard.
Wrapping It Up
Now you know how to live a healthy lifestyle by making three simple changes! You just need to clean up your diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. When you prioritize these three habits, your body will be more likely to function properly for a lifetime, allowing you to live life to the fullest.
You also know four tips that will help you make it all happen. Educating yourself, setting aside time to plan your week, doing some prep work, and reminding yourself of your “why” all work together to help you stick with your new healthy lifestyle.
Before you leave, be sure to check out The China Study. It’s a fantastic resource that I can’t recommend enough! I’m confident that you’ll find it just as enlightening, informative, and useful as I did. Even if you don’t want to buy a copy, you can always see if your local library has a copy you can borrow.
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- 9 Simple Ways to Stay Active Throughout the Day
- How to Afford a Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget
- How Being Healthy Saves You Money: A Personal Case Study
- Which Supplements Do You Need on a Plant-based Diet?
- 29 Ways to De-stress Right Now
What about you? Are you interested in living a healthy lifestyle?
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