You've been thinking about it for a while now, and you have finally arrived at the point where you know that it's time for you to do something to improve your health and well-being. This can be a good and bad moment, because while you may feel inspired to change your lifestyle (and health) for the better, you also know how nerve-wracking it can feel when you're trying to turn over a new leaf. Where exactly should you start? Which one should you emphasize more: dieting or exercise? Should you focus on losing pounds or inches?
These questions are enough to make you feel discouraged right off the bat. Fortunately, taking your first steps to a healthy lifestyle does not have to be a difficult or overwhelming process - and you definitely don't have to do it alone. Below are some helpful tips to keep in mind when embarking on your journey towards healthier living.
1. Take a "health inventory" to assess your current condition.
You really can't know where you're going until you know where you are. The first step is to get all of the requisite physical checkups to take an inventory of your current state of health. Find out your current weight, and properly take your body measurements. If you're not proud of how you look, this may be emotionally difficult to do, but it is absolutely necessary so that you can gauge where you are, and how far you need to go to get into good shape. Once you have a good grasp on your current physical condition, you can then make better diet and exercise choices.
2. Decide to start slow and remain steady.
You don't have to start off with an extravagant bang; as a matter of fact, most people who try to launch into a frenzied flurry of health-oriented activity normally end up burning out in about three weeks (if they make it that long). It's better to start slow and remain steady than to try to set the world on fire. You may be inspired to jog for five miles on your first day, or work out for three hours straight on your first visit to the gym, but the next day you'll be too tired and sore to do anything else. It would be much better to just do a simple walk/run for one mile each day, day in and day out.
The same thing holds true for dieting; instead of throwing all of your old food out and trying to survive on 101 tofu variations, agree to just cut down on some of your portions at first. Replace one soda each day with a bottle of water. Make slow, gradual changes, not sudden and abrupt changes, and you'll achieve the golden key of longevity in your new healthy lifestyle.
3. The little things add up over time.
If you decided to walk one lap around the interior rim of your favorite big box store before officially beginning your regular shopping trip, you would walk an average of 12 extra miles over the course of a year. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator different times during your workday can burn dozens of extra calories per day. Going to bed just fifteen minutes earlier every night will add up to seven extra hours of sleep each month. Setting a goal to lose just one pound a week would mean that you will be 52 pounds lighter in a year's time--and everyone knows how fast time is flying nowadays. By simply making small, incremental adjustments every day, you'll realize exponential results over time.
4. Remember the classic formula: Good Food Choices + Staying Active = Healthier Living
Deep down, all of us know that we can't expect to be healthy if we're eating nothing but potato chips, ice cream and fast food every day. A healthier lifestyle requires better food choices, such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Go for trail mix instead of a candy bar. Try apple slices with cheese instead of an apple fritter from the doughnut shop.
As far as staying active goes, find something that you can have fun doing, but that also gets your body moving. This doesn't mean doing the same thing every day; it could mean going on a nature hike over the weekend, taking a karate class, dancing, swimming, or whatever you happen to actually enjoy. You'll be more inclined to stick to what you're doing if you can have fun while doing it. Don't be afraid to engage in a variety of activities to keep your workouts fresh.
5. Find a friend.
One of the best things you can do in your journey toward a healthy lifestyle is to find someone who will take it with you. remember that no two people have the same level of fitness or the same health goals - your companion on this journey isn't there for you to constantly be comparing yourself with. You're in it together for encouragement, motivation and accountability - and also fun!