Do you find yourself feeling tired and sluggish in the mornings? Have you built a reliance on caffeinated beverages in order to get through the day? If this sounds like you, it's time for a change in your lifestyle, as you might be harming yourself more than you think. But what does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle? Is it to exercise more? Eat cleaner? Smoke less? Well, all of those can certainly contribute to a healthier lifestyle, but that doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy.
So what does it mean to be healthy? The World Health Organization defines health as “complete physical, mental, and social well-being - and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Simply put, it means taking control of your life. It means to take responsibility for yourself and every aspect of your life. To be connected with your values and set meaningful goals for yourself. Of course, taking control of your life isn't as easy as it sounds. There are many circumstances that are beyond our control. Problems and situations we wish we were never in.
"Don't hope for a life without problems. There's no such thing. Instead, hope for a life full of good problems."
This idea is something so simple and obvious, yet it's something we might forget about. Everyone has problems, no matter how successful or happy a person may look. Of course, some people have it worse than others, and I'm not trying to demean anyone's problems, but no matter where in life you may be, there will always be problems. While we can't avoid these problems entirely, we can actively work towards a life with good problems.
How can we work towards a life full of good problems? I believe it all starts from within. Working to improve oneself can be the first step to physical, mental, and social well-being. Starting isn't easy and may even seem a bit daunting at first, but that's why we've created this guide. Here are 5 steps to help you get started on your journey to living a healthy lifestyle!
Have you ever thought of what you would be doing in 5 years, or how you would want to be in 5 years? Do you have a clear vision in mind and know the steps you need to take in order to get there? Are those steps realistic and actually executable? If not, you need to start setting goals.
Goals are a way to keep us organized, focused, and give us direction. Goal setting is not only the first step to taking control over your life's direction, but it also provides a benchmark to determine whether you are progressing or not.
To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. It's not enough to simply state your goal. Goal setting is a process that starts with what you want to achieve (your end goal), followed by the steps that are required to achieve said goal. It requires hard work and effort, but it's a vital first step as it becomes the blueprint to making big changes in your life.
You don't have to save your goals for the New Year, you can start at any time! Find goals that motivate and drive you. Whether it's getting those washboard abs you've always dreamed of, losing 50 pounds of fat, or simply becoming more productive, set a goal that you want to work on. Now that might sound obvious, but many people end up losing drive as they pursue a goal. Motivation is key to achieving goals. Without motivation, your goals are likely to fail. You must have an interest in the outcome and see the value in achieving these goals. These goals need to relate to your values and have a high priority in your life. You need this sense of urgency and focus in order to make the goal a reality.
Sounds intense? Well to be blunt, it is. Lifestyle changes won't happen in a few days, weeks, or even months. It takes years of dedication, hard work, and effort to make lasting changes. But that's what makes it so rewarding. Seeing years of sweat, blood, and tears come to fruition can be one of the most rewarding things in the world. If your goal doesn't have this innate feeling that drives you, you might not follow through with it to the end.
Have you ever set a goal and failed to accomplish it? Most of us have. We throw out a goal we set off for ourselves only to lose focus weeks later. Instead of stating a goal and mindlessly following it, we should set SMART goals.
A goal must be specific, clear, and well-defined. Broad or general goals such as "getting more fit" or "losing weight" are ineffective as they don't provide enough direction or motivation.
When creating your goal, try to answer the 5 W's:
By answering the 5 W's, you're able to create a specific goal on what exactly you want to do, establish a general idea on when and where you will achieve said goal, and remind yourself why that goal is important.
In addition to having a specific goal, your goal must also be measurable. By being able to quantify your goals, you're able to track your progress much more easily and know whether or not you're on the right path to your goal.
You should be asking yourself:
I recommend that you track your progress weekly at the very least, however, if you can do it every day, you should. Although it might seem obsessive, it helps you stay on top of your progress. By being obsessive with your goals and quantifying them every day, you're reminded of what you're striving for. A bit of obsession is required in order to stick to your goal, otherwise you will get distracted.
Cristiano Ronaldo didn't become one of the world's best soccer players by playing soccer once a week. He's obsessed with soccer and works day in, day out, doing everything he can to perfect his craft. Although it might be a bit unfair to compare your goal with someone as talented and driven as Ronaldo, you don't have to be a superstar athlete to be obsessed with a goal. You need to have a winner's mentality. To know that you are able to achieve your goal no matter what adversities are thrown at you. To know that you can get back up after you fall. To be consistent, even when it gets hard. That is the winner's mentality.
“Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”
Your goal must be achievable. It needs to be grounded and met with realistic expectations. You can't expect to lose 50 pounds in a month or look like The Rock in a year. If you set a goal that's too difficult to achieve, you will only demoralize yourself and hurt your confidence. On the other hand, you also shouldn't set a goal that's too easy. Your goals should be challenging and difficult, but still possible.
You should ask yourself:
The goals you set up for yourself must be relevant to your long-term goal. If your long-term goal is "to be in a leadership position", your shorter-term goals should align with that. Think about the steps that you need to take in order to achieve your long-term goal. If those steps don't contribute to your long-term objective, you might need to rethink it.
To make sure your short-term goals are aligned with your long-term goals, ask yourself:
Every goal needs to have a deadline in order to keep yourself on track. An end date can help provide motivation and help you know what to prioritize. For example, let's say one of your goals is to lose 4 pounds in a month. If you're the same weight in the third week, you may want to take some time to reflect and ask yourself why you're in that position. Maybe your timeframe was unrealistic, or you got distracted too often, or you simply ran out of motivation. Regardless of why you weren't able to achieve your short-term goal, the most important thing is to get up, brush yourself off, and start again. Not everyone will be able to stick to their goals 100% of the time. Use the things you learned from your experience and apply it so that it doesn't happen again.
When setting deadlines for your goals, ask yourself:
In order to fulfill our goals, we need to learn to organize ourselves. Through decluttering and organizing our plan, we learn not only to keep ourselves on track, but also learn more about ourselves. There is no blueprint on how to organize your plan, after all, everyone's different. When it comes to organizing your life and goals, you need to find what works best for you.
With that being said, some people don't know what works for them. The best thing to do is to start with one tactic that interests you, and build or change it as you progress through your goals.
1. Goal of the Day
The goal of the day is simple. Everyday, you set one goal for yourself that will help contribute to your long-term goal. You should ask yourself the question, "What would your future self want you to work on today?". If your long-term goal is to lose 50 pounds, your goal of the day can be something as simple as drinking your coffee black instead of a double-double. Though it may not seem that much at first, it slowly adds up over time, leading to significant changes. As time goes on, you can increase the difficulty of the goal, such as walking 10,000 steps each day if your goal is to lose weight.
2. Time Blocking
Time blocking is a simple, but effective way to take control of what you do in your day. It's a time management method where you divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to completing a specific task or group of tasks. You can use time blocking to help organize your goals by blocking out time in your day where you will do a specific task that will help achieve your goal. The key to maximizing time blocking is creating your task list in advance. At the start of the week, you should plan a rough sketch of your time block for each day. At the end of the day, review any tasks you haven't finished yet and adjust your time blocks accordingly. By time blocking, you are able to know what to focus on and when. This makes you spend less time focusing on what to do and instead, helps you focus on what you should do.
3. Creating Systems
Think of the goal you want to achieve. Now think about the steps to get to that goal. That's your system. Systems are the things we do intentionally to get to the goal. It's simply not enough to just focus on a goal you want to achieve. By fixating on the goal too much, you sometimes get lost in what you should be doing. By fixating on the systems, you will get closer to your goal. Take an Olympic athlete for example. Their goal is to win gold, but in order to get gold, the athletes don't focus on getting gold. They focus on their system of training. By getting better at their training, they get closer to achieving their goal. Focusing on the steps to achieving our goal is something so obvious, but it's something that we often forget. By optimizing the steps and focusing on how you can make your system better, you can get closer to your goal.
Sometimes we can get sidetracked from our goals. We allow ourselves to procrastinate once or twice, but this ends up snowballing. Procrastinating once every so often turns into once a week. Once a week turns into multiple times a week. Eventually, you stop pursuing your goal altogether. But that's ok, after all, we are only human. It's never about being perfect. It's completely unrealistic to always be productive with your goal. The most important thing is to realize that you're going off track and to try again. Remember achieving your goal is a marathon, not a sprint.
Everyone deserves a treat every now and then! It's important to reward yourself after you complete a milestone. Why? Because you deserve it! By rewarding yourself, your brain releases a series of chemicals like dopamine to make you feel happy. This will make your brain link the reward to accomplishing objectives towards your goal. This acts as positive reinforcement, making you more likely to repeat your behavior and stay on track to your goal.
However, it's important that you reward yourself fairly and smartly. If your goal is to lose weight, allowing yourself to binge an entire day could destroy a week's worth of progress. Instead, treat yourself in other ways, doing other things you love.
Sleep is an essential function that helps your body recover both physically and mentally, yet it is extremely underrated. Many people sacrifice sleep in favor of other things, whether it be for work, partying, or watching tv among many other things. In fact, according to CDC, a third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep of 7 hours. This sleep deprivation has been linked to many chronic diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.
Did you know sports actually improve your sleep? Read all about it here!
It's actually not just about the amount of sleep you get either. The quality of sleep is just as important. Some signs that you're getting poor quality sleep include not feeling rested, repeatedly waking up during the night, or experiencing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
It's no surprise that exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your body, both physically and mentally. There is irrefutable evidence that regular physical activity can aid in the primary and secondary prevention of several chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression, and osteoporosis) and premature death. It will also help you control your weight, strengthen your muscles, and improve your overall health.
Everyone can benefit greatly from physical activity, regardless of age, abilities, shape, or size, so why don't more people do it? According to the CDC, only 1 in 5 adults meet the physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. This can be due to a multitude of reasons, from a busy schedule to losing motivation, there are many reasons why people don't exercise. If you're one of those people who don't exercise regularly and are hoping to change that, the first step is to figure out why you don't exercise.
There are many reasons why people don't enjoy exercise. The biggest one we found is that people don't enjoy exercise because it's uncomfortable and difficult. No one wants to do something they are bad at. However, everyone needs to start somewhere. As you become more consistent at exercising, your body will get stronger and better at doing it.
One of the best things about exercise is the variety of options you have! There are many forms of exercise that you can do. Here are some of our recommendations for sports that can suit your personality and lifestyle!If you like individual progress... Try the gym: At the gym, it's easy to see progress as you can physically see the weight you use increase over time. Just be sure to track your progress and work your way up slowly!If you like exercising in groups... Try group fitness: If you're a fan of social exercise, or just simply feel more comfortable working in groups, try group fitness. From yoga to boxing, there are many group fitness exercises that are available at most commercial gyms!
If you cannot afford to go to the gym and enjoy individual progress... Try cardio: From running to swimming and even hiking, cardio is an amazing form of exercise that gets your heart pumping! The best part about cardio is how many forms there are, so try them all to see which one you enjoy the most!
If you cannot afford to go to the gym and enjoy exercising in groups... Try playing sports: Joining a community of sports like Javelin can be a great way to find people to play sports with! It can be intimidating at first, but many people are welcoming and are willing to accommodate newer players. Alternatively, many community centers have recreational programs for all ages and skill levels that you can join.
Exercise can be intimidating, especially if you're new. You might not want to go to the gym or attend a group fitness class because you're not sure what to do at the gym. You might start to feel self-conscious or worry that you're doing the exercises wrong. While all these concerns are valid, the most important thing is to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. No reasonable person would ever shame you for learning something new.
To help make sure that you're doing the exercises correctly, here are some tips that you can apply:
You may be exercising for a while but you might not see any noticeable changes to your body. Perhaps you're not losing weight as fast as you hoped or you don't have the six-pack abs that every fitness influencer promises you'll get. Although it may be frustrating that you won't see any changes that fast, you must remember that it's a marathon not a sprint. It may take up to 3 months before you see any major changes to your body.
Make sure you're setting SMART goals and understand how your diet can play a huge part on how your body composition changes. Remember, there are many other benefits to exercising other than looking better. Exercising can help improve your physical health, reduce stress, and improves your mental health!
We all want to feel like we fit in. To be included in a community where we matter.
As you grow older, building a community becomes increasingly more difficult. Friendships and community can be hard to make, but it's very needed for our mental health and wellbeing, especially now more than ever. According to Statistics Canada, more than 1 in 10 people in Canada are always or often feel lonely in 2021. The survey results also revealed that those who were frequently lonely reported poorer mental health and lower levels of overall life satisfaction compared to those who were feeling lonely less often. This makes having a community ever so important in today's society. Fortunately, finding community and building friendships now is easier than it ever has been in the past.
The first step to finding new community and friends is to put yourself out there. This can be the most difficult step for some people. Meeting new people can be scary. We get too caught up about whether or not we will make a good impression, whether we fit in or not, or worry about how we can keep a conversation going. The more we think about it, the scarier it seems.
This creates this fear of rejection and social anxiety that can create a mental block that prevents us from meeting new people.
However, in reality, all these fears and anxieties that we have from social meetings are all in our heads. Most of the time, the people you socialize with have the same thoughts. They too are caught up in whether or not they have made a good impression. They can be just as scared as you are. Even if there are times when people do judge what you say or do, are these the type of people you would like to be friends with? Probably not.
The first step is often the hardest, but if you can open yourself up to strangers little by little, you'll find that meeting new people isn't as bad as you once thought it was.
Socializing can be hard. Where do we even start? Meeting a whole bunch of people out of the blue can be intimidating, so by starting with the people you know first, you can slowly build up your courage and social skills.
Reach out to old acquaintances you've had in the past. Drop a friendly "hello" on a social media platform you both use and catch up from there. If things go well, ask if they want to meet up. You can use this opportunity to reconnect with your acquaintance and perhaps build a stronger relationship with them.
Using your current network is a great way to meet new people and find new communities. Ask your friends, coworkers, or colleagues to introduce you to any friends or social groups that they are in. Be sure to mention that you're trying to broaden your social circle and find new groups to be in. This may seem a bit daunting and awkward to ask, but if you're polite about it, the worst they can say is no.
Joining interest groups can be a great way to meet like-minded people. Pick out some interests you like and join a group for them. There are several websites you can use online to find interest groups. For example, if you like playing a certain sport, try using Javelin, a free app that helps you join sports leagues and pick-up groups in your area. However, it's important to remember to be safe. Getting your vaccination shots, wearing your mask, and practicing social distancing are the best things that you can do to keep yourself and the ones around you safe!
As many people are practicing social distancing, online communities have become more popular as of late. There is a multitude of virtual book clubs, cooking classes, workout classes, and more. These events can be found on social media groups on either Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
There are also social media platforms such as Discord, which have public servers that connect people with similar interests. From servers that discuss and play video games to servers that talk about your favorite artist, you will have a hard time finding a community that doesn't have the same interests as you do!
Relationships require time and patience. There must be a willingness and effort to maintain and improve relationships. Make sure to be active in your newfound community and reach out to your friends often. Whether it's over lunch or a simple text, technology has made communication easy to stay in touch with friends.
What does it mean to treat your body like a temple? Simply put, it means taking care of your body. If you take good care of your body now, it will take good care of you in the future. As our lives get busier and busier, it becomes all too easy to allow our health and wellness to become second place.
While it is important to keep your body in a healthy condition through exercise, there are also other important things you can do to take care of your body.
You may see or read about these morning routines that productivity guru's post all over social media. Wake up at 5am, then go for a 30-min fasted jog, followed by an ice-cold shower and meditation to help "clear the mind". Unfortunately, this type of lifestyle is unrealistic for a vast majority of people. Your body might not like this type of lifestyle, no matter how long you've tried to adopt it.
Listening to your body and paying attention to signals your body gives you can help guide you on whether or not you're doing what feels right for you. If you're hungry, eat a healthy snack. If you're thirsty, drink some water. If you feel tired, find the time to get more sleep. Basic things such as these often get neglected when we're occupied doing something else.
It's important to be able to tune in with yourself and reflect on how you feel, both physically and mentally. Do you feel relaxed and happy? Or do you feel tired, anxious, or tense?
By taking a moment to examine how you feel, you can try to break these things down and determine why you feel the way you do. Afterwards, you can think of steps you can take to help alleviate any pains that you might be feeling.
Food is an invaluable resource that fuels our bodies. Eating should never feel forceful or feel like a pain. It's important to find a diet that suits you and your lifestyle. Remember to follow your body signals. Eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel satisfied. Never stuff yourself to the point where you can't eat another bite.
It's equally important to recognize the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Are you eating because you are hungry or are you eating because you're bored or feel emotional? If it is the latter, it's best to find healthier alternatives to satisfy that emotion. Things that help preoccupy your mind such as exercise will help greatly. Be sure to also include food from all food groups to make sure you are not deficient in any essential vitamins and minerals. Be mindful of what you enjoy eating and what you don't enjoy eating. When you know what you like, create a shopping list to cook the foods you enjoy. This will not only be a healthier alternative to restaurant food, but also much cheaper as well. And finally, after each meal, notice how you feel. Do you feel sluggish and tired after the meal or do you feel refreshed and energized? By paying attention to how you feel after eating, you'll realize which foods make you feel good and what foods you should avoid eating often.
If you made it this far into the article, you know how powerful exercise can be. It has the power to prolong your lifespan and help you relieve stress. But many people focus on the other effects of exercise. From losing weight to building muscle, these things can be strong motivators as well as strong stressors. But more often than not, it becomes an additional burden on our shoulders and becomes one more thing that we worry about. The most important thing to remember is that exercise makes us more physically and mentally healthy. Losing weight or building muscle is a side effect that will eventually happen with time.
Living a healthy lifestyle isn't a change that you can make in a day. It takes months, even years, of hard work and dedication. After all, good things take time.
By setting goals for yourself, getting good sleep, exercising more, being in a community, and taking good care of your body, you can achieve better physical, mental, and social well-being. Although this might be incredibly daunting at first, by slowly applying the steps you've learned in this article, you can slowly start to take more control of your life.