How to develop the healthy lifestyle habits you've always wanted

How to develop the healthy lifestyle habits you've always wanted

By Christine VanDoren

Establishing clear goals and plans will guide you toward success

Have you always had numerous health goals you told yourself you would reach but never do? You are not alone.

Many people struggle to build the healthy lifestyle they’ve always wanted. It could be because they don’t have the knowledge needed to develop attainable goals.

You don’t have to fall into that trap. Read on to learn how to build the healthy lifestyle you’ve always wanted.

Develop positive habits

The key to living a healthy lifestyle is having positive and beneficial habits that you naturally carry out daily. Unfortunately, forming good and breaking bad habits is more complicated than it sounds. A common belief is it takes 21 days to do either, but the truth is that it just depends on your personality and how your brain works.

The best thing you can do for yourself is simplifying the process. Start by writing down 18 habits you want to acquire over the next six months. Next, choose three goals for each month. Focusing on doing only three things every day is both realistic and achievable. By the time you have completed the first month doing only these three habits, you will be more than ready to add on the second month’s three goals. Once you have successfully completed the six months of habit building, you can reassess and determine how you want to elevate your health even further in the future.

How you word your overall goals will also play a significant role. For example, don’t simply say, “I want to lose weight.” That is very broad, and you have no benchmarks, timeline or way to achieve it. Instead say, “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 12 weeks. To do it, I will eat 1,600 calories or less a day, eat 100 grams of protein daily, and exercise for an hour four days a week.”

With this statement, you have set a measurable goal, given yourself a timeline, and identified three habits that will help you get there.

Exercise is an easy habit to develop

The human body was designed to move, yet many people spend most of their hours sitting. Whether you are in school or have a desk job, it’s hard to get in as much daily movement as you would like if you are stuck in a chair. Luckily, there are proactive steps you can take to still reap the benefits of regular exercise.

One of the most essential, underrated and affordable forms of exercise is walking. This is a great place to start to burn calories, get in your steps, increase longevity, and boost your mood. A standard recommendation is to get in 10,000 steps a day. For many people, that’s not realistic because of the time it takes. Try shooting instead for 5,000 steps a day and break it up throughout the day. You can dedicate walking time in the morning, after any of your three primary meals, and in the evening. Choose a few times that work for you throughout the day and make it a priority.

Weight training is another essential part of staying healthy. Increased muscle mass allows you to both feel and look strong while improving your metabolism. This means that you will burn more calories and fat at rest than if you had less muscle on your frame. So, more muscle means you can eat more without gaining weight. Whether you go to the gym or follow along with YouTube videos at home, aim for three one-hour sessions every week.

Nutrition is the foundation of health

While exercise will take your health to the next level, nutrition is the foundation. Unfortunately, it can be confusing figuring out exactly what you should be eating when so many different diets and pieces of advice are thrown around. And one day a particular food is bad for you but then a few weeks later, it’s not.

So, what should you believe?

Keep it simple. Sticking to the basics will make your life a lot easier. Start by using smartphone apps to track everything you eat for one month to better understand your habits and your average calorie and protein intake. Once you have this knowledge, you can begin to make some changes.

Determine if you need to be in a caloric deficit, a caloric surplus, or neither based on whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or maintain your current weight. Next, figure out how many grams of protein you should eat daily to help you gain muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Hitting your calorie and protein goals will help you see a positive physical transformation over time.

As for what foods you will be eating, try to have a diverse nutritional profile. Lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds should be staples in your diet. Try to minimize or avoid alcohol, soda, sugary drinks, pastries, candy, and other foods that do not provide any nutritional value, are high in calories, and that you consume simply for the taste.

If building a healthy lifestyle is something you genuinely want to do, you can do it. Start with creating your list of habits, figuring out a regular walking and exercise routine, and eating a nutritious diet. Give yourself time to adhere to your new schedule and see the results of your continuous hard work. Nothing is more rewarding than making the right choices and feeling the positive effects.