In the new year, people feel motivated to make changes. Get off to a strong start and that momentum can carry you through, even when it’s hard to find the time or focus. The big question is: What changes really matter when you want to start a healthy lifestyle?
If you embark on a healthy lifestyle with a strict diet and plans to run a marathon, odds are good you’ll burn out before you notice any results. Take things gradually instead and you’ll enjoy consistent progress.
A slow and steady approach lets you integrate healthy habits into your daily routine without sticking to huge changes with “willpower.” As you start to see the difference in your energy level (and the mirror!), healthy eating and exercise become their own rewards. That lays a foundation for permanent change.
Here’s how to begin embracing a healthy lifestyle in 2023:
1. Understand What You’re Eating
Food is the fuel that makes up about half the equation of diet and exercise. To be at your best, you need to know what you’re eating. But don’t jump into this project by trying to count every calorie. Exhaustion awaits down that path. Instead, start by simply logging everything you eat in a day and when.
Only once you’re used to listing what you eat should you consider counting calories. A food scale helps you get an accurate count for unpackaged food. There are also many apps that support you in keeping track. You might just find some high-calorie foods you won’t miss.
2. Learn a Little About Macronutrients
When food is digested, it contributes macronutrients in three categories: protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fats. If your goal is to lose fat, consider having fewer carbohydrates – these cause blood sugar spikes when consumed. Key sources of carbohydrates for most Americans are bread and pasta.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be doing strength training, you’ll need protein. Protein is found in a variety of meats, eggs, and nuts. Proteins are directly used by the body for rebuilding muscles that have been worked to exhaustion and developed micro-tears. They come back stronger as a result.
3. Start on Big Impact Changes First
Depending on your current habits, you might have some “low-hanging fruit.” These are things you can do right away that will have the biggest impact on your health. See if you can cut back on cigarettes, alcohol, and sugary desserts if these things are a part of your life now. You might see results quickly!
4. Take a Stand Against Stress
Stress is ubiquitous in today’s society, yet it’s associated with all kinds of health issues. Chronic stress can ultimately give you a higher “biological age” than your chronological age. To combat stress, it’s crucial to find a way to truly, fully relax – mentally and physically. Most hobbies don’t provide deep relaxation, but practices like meditation, yoga, and progressive body relaxation can get you there.
5. Work on Your Sleep Hygiene
Small changes in your sleep hygiene can lead to fuller, deeper rest and falling asleep faster. One of the easiest changes is to reduce the amount of light in your bedroom. Many adults are sleeping with too much light: The bedroom should be too dark to even see your hand in front of your face!
To make this happen, look for all electronics in the room that emit any light while they’re switched off, and double-check they’re turned off at the surge protector. At night time, completely block all windows with blackout curtains. Use a door sweep to prevent light from under the bedroom door.
6. Pick Exercises You’ll Enjoy
It’s easy to get caught up in ideas about what you “should” do and exercise in ways you feel are boring or uncomfortable. The more you like your choice of exercise, the better. Even if you’ve never exercised, there’s something out there for you. Try new things until you discover it!
Once you choose a type of exercise, the next steps are making it a) convenient and b) more enticing to you. For example, you might listen to your favorite podcast to make exercise more enticing. “Convenient” could mean buying the equipment you need instead of pushing yourself to commute to the gym.
Last But Not Least, Be Sure You’ve Got Good Health Insurance
Personal health insurance helps you make sure you can get the preventive healthcare you need. With Choice Health Insurance Brokers, you can add or change your health insurance policy any time of year.
Contact us today to learn more or get started.