What does it really mean to ‘start a healthy lifestyle’?
Does that mean exercising every day? Not drinking? No sugar? No carbs? Only protein? High-fat diet? Low fat?
With ALL of the diets and the fads and phases and this and that, one who genuinely wants to change their life around and be healthy might come into this and feel one of two things. One, confused because there are SO many different things out there ALL claiming to be correct, and two, overwhelmed. Simply because of the fact that when you want to start something to better yourself and there are so many options you might get a little overwhelmed to the point of not even wanting to do it anymore.
Let’s go through a few diet fads from over the ages, shall we?
Juicing was a huuuuge thing, according to Insider it was created by Horace Fletcher, who encouraged people to chew their foods until it turned into liquid in their mouths. In turn, this helped to reduce food intake. There is no evidence that actually proves that a liquid-based diet is healthy, however, there is tons of evidence of it being UNhealthy. For instance, while you may be consuming less calories throughout the day on a liquid-based diet, it is not a sustainable lifestyle and the weight-loss is short-lived because when you drastically cut the amount of calories being consumed, your metabolism begins to slow down to conserve energy, in turn making you gain even more weight in the long run. The conclusion? Not sustainable.
Goodbye carbohydrates! Goodbye fruit, goodbye all the joys in life because hello low fat and low carb galore. Atkins encourages you to have no more than 20 grams of carbs a day. Hello fatigue and restriction. The conclusion? Not sustainable.
Similar to Atkins, you can say goodbye to your carbohydrates… and hello FAT! I don’t know about you, but simply the idea of a high-fat diet just sounds unhealthy. The way the keto diet works is you cut out your carbs and keep them under 20 grams, similar to Atkins, and you focus on eating high protein and high-fat foods. At that point, your body goes into a state of emergency and rips through the fat to create ketones which act as a type of fuel.
Imagine how much keto diet messes with your liver? Your thyroid? The conclusion? Not sustainable.
I’m not trying to change your mind about any particular lifestyle you have chosen, if you do the diets I just listed, and it works for you then that’s great! My point is, based on research, based on personal experience as well as others, diets are not sustainable. It’s extremely hard to live a life of restriction and to be quite frank, you shouldn’t have to.
Starting a healthy lifestyle should and actually COULD be done without giving up the little things that you enjoy. Do you like sweet coffee? That’s fine, it could be incorporated into your lifestyle. Do you enjoy the occasional glass of wine? Maybe a cocktail? That’s great! Let’s work on incorporating those things. The point is not omitting things and doing it cold-turkey, but gradually decreasing the quantity of them and spiking the quality.
When you restrict your body of its cravings, you begin to compensate for them with other things. For instance, I did a seven-day detox. No gluten, no dairy, and no added sugar. The first couple of days I was dying. I was slowly withering away into the oblivion, all I wanted was a damn chocolate chip cookie. That is all! However, because I obviously couldn’t have what I really wanted, I went rogue on other things. I had loads of fruit, to the point of not even wanting to LOOK at fruit the following week, I had loads of nuts/nut butters, (healthy fats, right?) In turn, I did not see any weight loss, I did not see many changes because I compensated for my sugar craving with all sorts of other things. If I had indeed had that one little cookie I so desperately wanted, perhaps I wouldn’t have gone to bed after eating three bananas and two apples on top of a jar of almond butter.
A few tips on how to start a HEALTHY and SUSTAINABLE lifestyle:
- Ease your way in slowly! Begin your new lifestyle by being more aware of the foods you eat, the things you buy, the things you order, and the things you have in your kitchen/pantry. Then, take inventory and start going through the ingredients of what you have. That bag of cheetos? It’s got to go. There are plenty of healthier alternatives that you can find that won’t inflame you, won’t cause digestive issues and won’t wreak havoc on your body. So, clean out your pantry and your fridge as you would your closet. New fridge, new you!
- Exercise. Exercise is crucial in a healthy lifestyle, you need to move your body. Start monitoring the number of steps that you do in a day, if you have a sedentary lifestyle, change it! Start taking walks in the morning or evening, join a gym and walk the treadmill to get those steps up, if possible, get a trainer who knows what they’re doing so they could teach you a few things in the gym, or alternatively, start taking fitness classes! There is such a huge array of fitness classes out there, you could do yoga, weight-lifting, pilates, there’s ClassPass which allows you to take a variety of different classes so you could see what you enjoy! Get moving!
- Read the ingredients. Do the research. There are plenty of things out there that are considered ‘healthy’ when in reality they are not. Familiarize yourself with things that are truly good for you and the things that aren’t! Sure, zero-calorie drinks are great when you’re trying to count calories and lose weight, but have you thought about the additives in there that are causing problems for your gut? Gut health is incredibly important, especially when starting a healthy lifestyle. Your weight, mood, mental and physical health depend on your gut health!
There you are! Three simple and easy steps into starting a healthy lifestyle. Remember, patience is key, read the ingredients, opt for healthier alternatives. When you ease your way in, the choices become simpler, easier and before you know it, you won’t even think about the junk you used to indulge in.