Everything you need to know to start living a healthier life today
Every day we are told by doctors, the media, and pop culture that we must live a healthy lifestyle. We must eat better, we must sleep more, and we must exercise more.
Everything we are presented with is very one note, very black and white. We are presented with an ideal – a celebrity with a six-pack, a gold medal winning athlete – and we are pushed to meet that standard.
The advice only ever focuses on our physical health. Our mental health is treated as something we can just take control of if we try harder.
This is not that kind of article.
Yes, we are going to talk to you about the merits of living healthily and how you can do that. But, we understand that a healthy lifestyle looks different for everyone. We understand that everyone is starting in a different place in a different situation.
We are also going to spend some time talking about how to look after your mind as well as your body. Our mental and physical health are closely intertwined and one cannot thrive without the other.
We use the word lifestyle throughout this article, instead of diet, plan, or course. To truly see the benefits of everything on this list, you need to change how you live. The good news is that it is easier than it sounds and the benefits of doing so are huge.
When changing your lifestyle it is important that you take small steps and are kind to yourself even when you fail. A tiny change is better than no change at all – remember that.
What Is a Healthy Lifestyle?
As we mentioned in the section above, a healthy lifestyle looks different for everybody. However, there are overlapping elements in healthy lifestyles that everyone can benefit from. For us, a healthy lifestyle includes being happy, “balanced”, and physically healthy.
We believe there are four essential pillars of a healthy lifestyle:
- Physical health
- Emotional health
- Spiritual health
- Environmental health
This is the section of a healthy lifestyle that most people will be familiar with. Physical health involves looking after your body. Yes, it includes eating well and exercises, but it includes so much more. Like not smoking or binge drinking for example.
You could exchange the words emotional health for mental health or self-love – they all do the same job. When working on your emotional health you are promoting positive thinking, self-belief, and emotional healing.
Looking after your emotional health may involve seeing a therapist, practicing mindfulness, or being kind to yourself on a bad day.
Many people confuse spiritual and emotional health. They do overlap in many places, but in this case, when we say spiritual health we are talking about calming your inner turmoil. Practices like yoga and meditation are essential to our spiritual health.
This is the section that most people skip over, but we believe it is one of the most important. To improve your environmental health you need to create an environment where you can thrive. Surround yourself with people who love you and show you compassion. Surround yourself with the kind of people who improve you.
The Importance Of a Healthy Lifestyle
For many people (including ourselves) the fantasy that comes with the concept of a healthy lifestyle is enough to convince us to try. A stress-free, balanced, life full of self-love and nourishing food sounds like perfection.
However, there are actually many other benefits that come with living a healthy lifestyle. There are even some benefits that you may have never considered before. We don’t have time to list all of the benefits of living healthily, but here are four of the biggest benefits:
It Can Increase Longevity
The healthier you are, the more likely you are to live longer.
A recent study found that living a healthy lifestyle can actually increase our life expectancy by up to 14 years. Activities like smoking and drinking too much can take even more time off your life. Smoking reduces life spans by 10 years on average BEFORE you take into account the diseases that smoking causes.
Exercises like yoga have been shown to improve mobility, even at an older age.
Living a healthier lifestyle can help you to live longer and enjoy your old age even more.
It Can Boost Your Energy
We talk to a lot of people who say that they don’t exercise and can’t cook healthy food because they are too tired. Well, we have some life-changing news for you – both exercising and eating well are great sources of energy.
Our body actually produces energy to meet the demands we set for it. So, if you begin an exercise habit, your body will start to produce more energy every day.
Food is what fuels our body and if we are not feeding it correctly, then, of course, we are going to feel tired and sluggish. As soon as you swap over to healthier food you will notice the difference.
It Could Prevent Diseases
Men who smoke are 23-times more likely to die from cancer of the trachea, lung, and bronchus than men who don’t smoke.
Changing your diet can reduce the chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, and it can improve your mental health.
Getting therapy can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, it can also decrease the chances of committing suicide.
Exercise also has an amazing effect on our mental health and anxiety.
Swapping your morning cup of coffee out for a cup of matcha could mean you start your day with 136X the amount of cancer-fighting antioxidants in your body.
The list goes on…
It Can Keep You In a Healthy Weight
Being overweight can lead to a whole range of health problems. If you are living a healthy lifestyle then you won’t struggle to lose the weight and keep it off.
Eating well, exercising daily, and having a good relationship with yourself are the three key elements to losing weight. Living a healthy lifestyle covers all three of these.
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that you cut out all the things that are bad for you, it just means that you enjoy them in enough moderation that they don’t damage your health.
Tips For Fit And Healthy Lifestyle
While living a healthy lifestyle is not always easy at first, there are a few small changes that you can make that will make a huge difference.
For example, to see the benefits of the exercise we only need to work out for half an hour a day. Most people spend longer than that scrolling through social media before they get out of bed.
If you want to have more energy, start losing weight, suffer from less disease, and live for longer then you are really going to appreciate the 15 tips below. At the bottom of each tip, we have included an actionable step that will help you to implement the tip today.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Let’s start with a really simple tip that everyone can start right now. We mean it, go and get a glass of water before you carry on reading the rest of this article. Take a big swig and carry on reading.
Did you know there are over 15 benefits of drinking enough water every day? If you don’t believe us – check out this article. Drinking enough water improves our memories, our mood, and our energy levels. It even improves our skin.
Want to know how much water you should be drinking every day, this calculator will tell you.
Actionable step – Get yourself a water bottle and start carrying it everywhere with you
Everyone knows that eating healthily is good for you.
The real problem that we all have is keeping healthy eating up for the long term. After a hard day of work, it is all too tempting to order takeaway or heat up a ready meal.
If this sounds familiar then you should try meal prepping. Set aside 2-3 hours of one of your days off and batch cook a bunch of meals that you can freeze or refrigerate to enjoy for the rest of the week. This makes healthy eating effortless.
Actionable step – find a healthy recipe for your favorite fast food meal
People often overestimate how much exercise they need to do to start seeing the results and the health benefits they want. This is understandable, fitness influencers would have us believe that we need to spend 2 hours a day in the gym using their routines. And that we should be spending $100s on their exercise equipment.
The good news for all of us (and our wallets) is that this is far from the truth. According to leading health experts we only need to do 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 1.25 hours of intense exercise a week to see the benefits of working out.
That works out as half an hour of moderate exercise 5 times a week or 15 minutes of intense exercise 5 times a week. We all have time to do that. If you are really strapped for time, you can try an “at home workout”, there are thousands of free routines on Youtube.
Actionable step – watch your favorite show whilst doing a brisk walk on the treadmill, half an hour will fly by
Mindfulness is a broad term that covers any activity that will help you to take control of your thoughts and not let your emotions control you.
Mindfulness can benefit all of us, whether we suffer from depression and anxiety, if we hate our job, or even if we are happy and content people.
Today, we would like to recommend two mindfulness practices to you – meditation and CBT therapy.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is a form of therapy that teaches the user how to question and modify their negative thought patterns. CBT can take the form of grounding exercises, journaling, thought processing, and much more. Many people who suffer from anxiety find it life-changing.
Meditation is an ancient mindfulness technique, it has been proved that it changes our brains for the better. It makes it harder for us to get stressed, it improves our memory, and it makes us happier people.
The best part about meditation is that there are thousands of free resources online. Including apps, Youtube videos, and meditation conferences.
Actionable step – download a free meditation app on your phone right now.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
Here are 5 things that lack of sleep can do to your body:
- It can increase your chance of developing heart disease
- It can cause you to gain weight
- It can damage your immune system
- It can make your memory worse
- It can make you more vulnerable to panic attacks
Sleep is one of the most important things you can do with your time. Most of us can’t function without 8 hours of sleep a night. Without sleep, we can’t build muscles, store our memories, rest, or digest our food properly.
However, 70% of American adults don’t get enough sleep. Why? Well, the two key things preventing us from sleeping are our stress levels and the amount of blue light we are exposed to throughout the day.
If you need to start sleeping better then we recommend reading the books “Why we Sleep” by Dr Matthew Walker and “The Sleep Solution” by Dr Chris Winter. These books are game-changing and everyone should read them.
Actionable step – (here are three steps)
- Stop using your phone for an hour before bed, read or do yoga instead
- If you work with computers buy some blue light glasses
- Switch your light bulbs to warm, orange-toned bulbs
Get Into Yoga
If you are looking for a practice that will combine exercise with mindfulness then you don’t need to look any further, yoga is the answer.
The Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India. Yogis (yoga masters) would spend hours every day in these poses in order to observe and become aware of their own nature.
Not only does yoga have an amazing effect on the mind, but it also changes our bodies. Yoga builds both strength and flexibility and it is something that people of all ages and weights can do. It teaches self-discipline and will help you to understand what a capable person you are.
How to introduce Yoga into your lifestyle
You may be nervous to start yoga because you think that you are not flexible enough, you weigh too much, or you are not disciplined enough.
Well, we have news for you, those are all amazing reasons to start doing yoga. Not excuses to avoid it. Yoga is a journey, during which you will get to know yourself and your body better. There is no judgment in yoga, only self-love.
To get started you will need to decide where you want to practice yoga? Does your gym offer classes or do you want to start at home? Both are great options.
After you have decided where you are going to practice yoga, you will need to choose the type of yoga you want to do. There is Yin yoga, hot yoga, power yoga, Bikram yoga – your options are nearly endless. So, there will be a type that suits you.
During your first practice, be kind to yourself. Yoga is not about mastering the shapes, it is about the process of getting there. No one is good at yoga on their first try, what makes them an expert is returning to the mat again and again.
Actionable step – find a 15 minute beginners yoga class on Youtube and get stretching (you can thank us later)
Avoid Negative/Toxic People, Workplaces, Or Environments
There is one place in most of our lives where we hate to go. It might be the local coffee shop where the hipster barista always judges you when you order a Pumpkin Spice latte. It may be going to visit your mother-in-law. It may even be the breakroom at work.
Whatever the situation, there is always something you can do to improve it (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). In these situations, you need to put yourself first. Walk an extra 5 minutes to the coffee shop with the nice barista. Organize a day with your mother-in-law where you are doing something you both love together. Eat lunch at your desk if it makes you happier, even if it goes against company culture.
Actionable tip – brainstorm 10 ways you can improve one toxic situation in your life.
Eliminate Bad Habits If Possible
We all have bad habits, there is no shame in that. However, some habits are so bad for us that we should try and eliminate them. Or at least start taking steps towards that today.
Excessive alcohol consumption
Overconsumption of alcohol can damage every single part of your body. Our culture is built around drinking to excess so it can be hard to stop. If you want to stop drinking then you can find many resources online.
Actionable step – (at home) to start, buy one drink less than usual at the grocery store. (social occasions) to start, make every other drink a soft drink or water.
Smoking reduces your life expectancy by at least 10 years and can make you 23-times more likely to get cancer.
Actionable step – find your nearest “stop smoking” support group and arrange to meet them.
Reduce Stress/Learn How To Manage It
Stress prevents you from sleeping, suppresses your immune system, can make you more vulnerable to developing depression, and it can raise the acid levels in your stomach.
Over 33% of us are experiencing extreme stress on a daily basis. We can try to reduce our stress by removing ourselves from bad situations – but this is not always possible. Instead, we should learn how to control our stress.
We have already mentioned some techniques that can help you to do that (yoga, meditation, and exercise) but there are many other ways you can reduce your stress levels. Including problem-solving journalling, practicing self-care, and taking baths.
Actionable step – write a list of things that you love and make you feel relaxed – do AT LEAST one of these things after you finish this article.
Don’t Bottle Up Your Feelings
One of the things that can lead to higher levels of stress is bottling up our feelings. Doing so can change the way your brain releases hormones, resulting in more stress hormones being released.
The best thing we can do to prevent this is to talk or write about our feelings.
The best place to start is with the people in your life (as long as they are not the ones who are causing you the stress). Sit down and tell them how you are feeling and if you are struggling.
Many of us don’t want to talk to our friends and family about our feelings because we don’t want to overburden them. That is perfectly normal, if you feel this way you can do two things. Firstly, ask yourself if you would want them to do the same thing if the situation was reversed. If you still don’t feel comfortable, then you should consider seeing a therapist.
The great thing about therapists is that it is their job to listen to you talk about your feelings, so you are never overburdening them. They are professionally trained and they will be able to help you process these feelings and deal with them if they return.
There are many charities that will provide you with therapy if you think you cannot afford the service.
Actionable step – get a notebook or blank piece of paper and write everything you are feeling right now down.
Learn To Love Yourself
This is something that is very important to do at all points in your life. But we think that loving yourself is especially important when you’re starting out on your journey to a new healthy lifestyle.
There is an amazing collective called The Love Project who has a step-by-step guide to learning to love yourself – you can find it here.
Self-love looks different for everyone, but the most important thing you can do is be your own biggest fan. Invest in yourself, care for yourself, and most importantly, forgive yourself.
Actionable step – write a loving letter to your future self and open it in one month.
Have Regular Checks With Your Doctor
This is very obvious, so we are not going to dwell on it for too long.
Instead, see this section as a friendly reminder to regularly go see your doctor and your dentist. A reminder not to ignore any worrying lumps or pains. And a reminder to take control of your own health.
Actionable step – book yourself in for a general checkup! (And people with uteruses, when was the last time you had a smear test and breast exam done?! Book one now)
Don’t Work Too Hard, Make Sure You Get Plenty Of Breaks
We live in a world where grind culture is venerated and encouraged. We are encouraged to work ourselves to the bone on the promise that it will pay off eventually.
Doing this will lead to you getting burnt out and possibly very unwell. Taking time to rest is essential for a healthy life. Our jobs give us holiday time – make sure you use it!
Actionable step – plan in 3 sessions of relaxation and rest into your next week.
Don’t Go Overboard With Caffeine
Coffee, it makes the world go round.
Most of us claim we can’t live without it, but most of us drink far too much of it.
Our soft drinks are also stuffed full of caffeine and nicotine is a very similar chemical. The more you consume of both these chemicals the more tired you will get. Caffeine is addictive and it tricks your brain into thinking it is much more awake than it actually is.
Actionable step – swab a cup of coffee for a cup of matcha, green tea contains a different form of caffeine that is slow-releasing and doesn’t cause an energy crash.
Avoid Looking At Screens An Hour Before Bed
We mentioned this in the section on sleep. But it is so important, we think it is worth mentioning again.
Our screens admit something called blue light. Our brain reads blue light in exactly the same way that it reads sunlight. So, even if it is dark outside, if you are looking at your phone your brain will think it is the middle of the day.
This becomes a problem when you realize that our brains only start preparing for sleep when they think it is dark outside. Looking at your screens before bed can delay sleep by hours.
Actionable step – before you head to bed, put your phone on the other side of the room so you are not tempted to use it at night
Other Things To Consider
When you feel like you have got a handle on the 15 tips above, then you should consider trying out the following tips.
Sign up for a fitness class
If you’re looking for a way to meet new people, have fun, and get your daily exercise in – then you should try fitness classes.
To some of you, being in a room full of other people while you work out may sound like a nightmare – you’ll have a lot more fun than you think.
You can try anything from cycling, to swing dance, to rock climbing.
If you want to lose weight and get healthy, the worst thing you can do is start a crash diet.
Any kind of diet that asks you to restrict the amount that you are eating should be avoided. They can lead to unhealthy levels of weight loss and to binge eating after the diet is finished. Crash dieting can permanently damage your metabolism.
Please note, restricting some items can help to deal with a range of illnesses – for example, gluten and lactose. This type of dieting can be really healthy for the right people.
Don’t shy away from herbs and spices
We love herbs and spices, they can take any bland meal and turn them into something really special. But, did you know that they have other health benefits on top of tasting good?
It’s true, many cultures have used spices in a medicinal way for thousands of years. There are still many people who use them to treat common illnesses.
Clove was used to treat toothache, Chamomile was used to treat burns, and salt was used for a very long time to clean wounds.
Adding a little bit of turmeric or chili to your cooking could improve your health as well as the meal.
Keep a gratitude journal
After the game launched, Psychologists discovered a phenomenon they called the Tetris Effect. They found the longer people played Tetris for, the more it changed the way they looked at the world.
We can harness the powers of the Tetris Effect in our everyday lives. If you want to be a more positive person, then you should start spending more time practicing positive thinking.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to start every day with a gratitude journal. Make a list of 10 (really specific) things that you are grateful for each day. You will be surprised how much easier it makes being positive.
There are many different ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Today, we have shared just 15 ideas with you, but this list could easily include 100 tips. The benefits of living a healthy lifestyle are just as numerous.
Now that you have finished this article, it is time to take some of these changes onboard and start living your best and healthiest life.