The Dos and Don’ts To Adopting Healthy Habits

Many people have tried to make healthy changes in their life but found themselves unable to keep it up. Some people don’t even manage to start. Perhaps you’ve tried too and discovered obstacles that made you feel like giving up?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle and wellness habits takes effort. But it’s possible to make it easier on yourself  by including a few basic principles.

This is the smart woman’s quick guide to both positive ways towards a healthier lifestyle and what to avoid so you stay the journey and reap the rewards.

Do Adopt These Healthy Ways Towards a Healthy Lifestyle

1. Get adequate rest. In our busy world, we often “push through” even when we’re tired and we don’t make allowances for adequate rest. But even in nature, you can see how this is the natural way of being – we have the winter season when everything slows down, animals hibernate and fields are traditionally left to fallow. In the same way, you can get better results from anything you do if you get enough rest. When you’re well rested, you have more energy, you also feel more confident, and committed. So, take a break and let yourself relax and recharge.

2. Plan your eating for success. What you eat makes a significant difference to your energy levels and also how your body looks. Each mouthful of food is like a messenger, telling your body what to do, and depending on that message, you could end up storing fat or losing energy. So, planing ahead and designing your eating will  help you achieve your desired results.

  • The types of foods that bring us the most effective results in terms of health and wellness, are real, unprocessed, whole foods that are nutrient-dense. Start by looking at all the things in your food cupboard and your fridge.
  • For a list of nutrient-dense foods, take a look at The World’s Healthiest Foods and stock up so you have the right foods to hand. Remember to include some snacks too.
  • Start by “crowding out”. This means that instead of trying to throw out all your foods and going cold turkey to trying to eat only nutrient-dense foods, eat more of the nutrient-dense foods first, so you’ll have less room for the other foods that you already know you would be better off letting go.

3. Self-acceptance. When you love yourself for who you are, and you begin to feel beautiful from the inside out, life becomes easier. You’ll naturally start to reach for what fuels you and nourishes you, including the right foods.

  • Make a list of all your positive attributes, even if this might feel somewhat difficult, especially the first time. Challenge yourself to find at least 10 things and even better, 20. What attributes do you have that make you feel good about yourself? What have you done in the past that makes you feel most proud? This is not the kind of pride that you might associate with arrogance. Rather, it is a pride that feels you up with a sense of well-being on the inside, such that you cannot help but feel so good that it spills over into every thing you do and every interaction you have with others. You might also surprise yourself and discover many amazing and awesome things to love about you! Embrace them and allow them to sink into every fibre of your being.

Don’t Do These! 

1. Crash dieting. This is just bad news all round, unless you want to damage your metabolism and your health to the extent that it becomes harder and harder over time to maintain your weight or worse still, you find yourself in a state of disease. If you’re looking to lose weight, yes, starvation will do it. That’s what crash dieting does for you. But it’s not sustainable. If you’ve done it in the past, only to find that the weight piles back on and then some, then you’ll know that it plain and simply, does not work.

  • Crash dieting may give you the result you want – for now – but it is at the cost of your overall health.
  • Instead, you need to flip your thinking around and understand that you need first to heal your metabolism and give your body the nourishment it needs. When you do that, your body will reach your optimal weight of its own accord. You’ll find that you won’t need willpower in the same way as crash dieting demands. Good healthy nutrition and healthy movement will mean that you can feel great in your body again and even better, be able to maintain it naturally.

2. Not including regular movement in your schedule. Contrary to conventional belief, working out like crazy isn’t necessarily going to bring you the results you’re looking for. In fact, many people over-workout and then wonder why they are lacking in energy or can’t seem to shift their excess weight. Working out too hard or too much causes physiological stress on your body causing it to hold on to weight, or worse still, put it on, not to mention, the potential for bringing on adrenal fatigue. But regular and moderate movement is key for health and well-being, interspersed with some higher intensity movement. Consistency is important. Set a specific time each day for getting your movement in and then stick to it so that it becomes habit.

  • Getting started is often the hardest. Find a time that you are most likely to stick to. Then do it, without question. Once you’ve done it, it’s easier the next time, and the next time, and the next time. I find that scheduling something for everyday and taking one day off during the week is easier than trying to do something every other day, because it’s harder to get into the habit. See what works for you. Make it happen.
  • Find different activities you enjoy and have a variety. It might be that you have a combination of yoga, walking, a tabata class, flamenco dancing,..what other ideas do you have? In this way, you can enjoy having a more active lifestyle rather than feeling that workouts are a chore.
  • Be present.  Enjoy and fully experience your activity and leave everything else behind.

3. Doing it to please others. You can only be truly happy and satisfied if you do things for yourself and because you want to. Trying to live your life according to other people’s expectations is energy draining and stops you from being freely who you truly are. The motivation and inspiration must come from within, in order to be sustainable and fulfilling.

  • Where in your life are you living according to other people’s expectations? How do they affect you or those around you?
  • First, you must recognize and accept what negative impact that might be on your own life. Perhaps you are secretly resenting it or you long to feel free but instead you feel trapped. Awareness is the first step.

Adopting healthy habits may not be easy, especially in the beginning, but you can do it. This is especially true if you’ve allowed negative habits to take over for a long time. Pace yourself; take your time. Take it one step at a time. That way, you won’t get overwhelmed and throw in the towel. And before you know it, you’ll suddenly  realize you have a better quality of life than you ever imagined!

3 Simple Ways To Inspire Your Exercise Program

I don’t have a love affair with exercise the way many people do. Rather, I prefer the idea of  “movement” – finding movement that is so enjoyable that it doesn’t feel like exercise. But here;s the thing. I discovered that when I wasn’t eating right, I never wanted to move – because my body was starving nutritionally and so wanted to conserve every little bit it had. When I discovered how foods work in the body and had the revelation that when we eat right, we will automatically want to move, I relaxed and gave myself permission not to have to exercise or move.

As I began to eat to nourish, I found that I started to want to move. Automatically. Even so, sometimes it feels tempting to simply laze around on the sofa instead of going out for a walk – usually when I’m busy in my head, doing “work”. Anyhow, I do find these three simple ways can help you get moving. Give it a go!

Surround Yourself With Green

1. Harness the power of green. In a university study, cyclists were asked to watch a nature video through a green filter. They found that the participants felt more motivated to perform the exercise and also felt that it took less effort even though they worked out at the same level of intensity.

2. Head outdoors. We feel more calm and relaxed when we are in nature. It’s the color green working for you. If you live in a city, find a nearby park where you can go for a walk or take a bike ride and take in the fresh air while also enjoying what nature has to bring.

3. Make plants your friends. Plants soften the place and bring in a sense of life in what can sometimes feel stark. During the day, plants take in carbon dioxide and put out oxygen so they also help to improve the air quality. So bring in a plant or two into your environment and also enjoy their beauty at the same time. (Please be aware though, that plants do the opposite at night – they take in oxygen and put out carbon dioxide, so having plants in your bedroom at night isn’t recommended).

4. Put some green into your exercise space. If you have a space in your home where you normally exercise – whether this is your yoga space, or a home gym, you could have a picture on the wall that brings in the colour green. This could be aquamarine or any other soothing green color. Another way in which you could do this is to have your exercise mat in a shade of green – chartreuse, mint, cool emerald and many others too – take your pick.

5. Dress the part. When you next replace your “work out” clothes, how about including some green? It doesn’t have to be a big item, even a green headband or water bottle could do the trick.

Make It Fun

1. Find someone to partner or buddy with. We often find it easy to duck out of doing something when there’s no one else involved, but when we know a friend is waiting for us, we don’t want to let them down. So having someone else to exercise with brings a sense of accountability and we usually find afterwards that we’re glad not to have skipped out. Not only that, the social element makes it more enjoyable and fun too and that’s what really counts, especially if you can both have a laugh while you’re at it too.

2. Sign up for a class. A class or a club is a good way to try out something new. Perhaps you’ve dreamt in the past about learning how to dance or perhaps you’ve even been wanting to check out running.  Flamenco? Salsa? It’s also a great way to meet some new people with whom you’ll have something in common, as well as to find your movement or exercise be more like a hobby you love than something you feel you “have to do”.

3. Put on some energising music or listen to a podcast. Some people find that music helps to energise them and makes them feel like moving. Others find that they like to kill two birds with one stone and learn while they move, by listening to a podcast or an audio book. If you’re stuck for music, you can google “workout playlist” and you’ll find no shortage of suggestions. Find your own motivation with this – music that gets you moving, or the next chapter that you simply can’t wait to get out and about for, so you can listen to it. Either is great!

4. Change it up. It’s not just your body that gets into a rut with the same routine. When it does, you’ll find that you don’t seem to get any result or sense of satisfaction the way you might have done in the past. The same goes for your mind too. Although we can be creatures of habit, we love variety too. Hence the saying, “Variety is the spice of life”. So try something new and change it up. If you’ve been treading the treadmill, go for  walk outside instead. If you’ve been attending a body balance class, perhaps you could change it up for yoga. Changing what you do as well as the environment also gets your neurons firing, keeping not just your body feeling alive but also your mind.

5. Listen to and observe your body. We often do things without being present. We may walk a mile but not even notice the flowers on the side of the path or the color of the sky, because we’re too busy thinking about something else. Learning to listen to and observe your body can bring profound rewards. When you’re walking, how does it feel in your legs? Or your hips? Does it feel out of alignment somewhere? how so? Is there a pull somewhere? Gradually, you’ll find that paying attention brings its rewards. You’ll be able to notice how calm and peaceful your body feels during a yoga pose, how you can stretch just a little bit further and feel at ease. You’ll notice how the walk you’ve just taken has somehow melted the stress headache away.

Measure Your Progress

1. Improve your health. If you’re looking to improve certain health conditions, talk with your doctor about it and know what your main health markers are. That way, you’ll be able to notice what changes there are in the areas you are looking to improve. Knowing that your movement program is helping you with your health can be just the inspiration you need.

2. Find the right measurements. Many people want to lose weight and so choose the number on their scale as their key (or even their only) measurement. But this isn’t necessarily the best item to monitor, because water weight can cause some significant fluctuations, especially if you happen to have certain food sensitivities. This can inadvertently cause you to become demotivated and throw it all in, when in fact, your body is taking time to adjust. There are other ways in which you can monitor progress – your level of energy, your waist size, hip size, upper arm size etc.. Another progress marker could be the number of steps you are comfortably able to take today compared to a week or a month ago. Even how often you feel like moving relative to when you first started out on your program is a good measurement. Find what works for you and remember to celebrate your progress!

3. Build up your strength. Strong toned muscles make you look leaner and also protect you from injuries, not to mention making daily activities like carrying shopping or playing with the kids much easier. What’s more, lean muscle tissue is metabolically more active, helping you to burn more calories throughout the day.

4. Improve your performance. Make is a game you play with yourself and beat your own records. Set targets for yourself so you have something to aspire to. If you run, you could aim for a slightly longer distance each week. In your resistance training, you could increase the level of resistance or weight than the time before. If pole dancing is your thing, then being able to master “that” move could provide just the inspiration you need to keep on showing up for class and practice.

We all know that exercise is good for us, but many of us don’t make the time for it, often because we think of it as a chore rather than something we really enjoy. Experiment and find different activities to try out so you can find what you like, and add in these simple motivations to inspire you and even look forward to the next time you do it!