When you decide to turn your life around and live healthy, you’re stepping into a completely different world. A lot of people have no idea what they’re getting into when they make the change, but once you start your healthy lifestyle, there are a few truths that become strikingly clear.
1. Habits reign supreme.
The first thing any aspiring health nut learns is that your habits can make you or break you. The first step is to break the bad habits—automatically popping open an unhealthy treat when you’re hungry, hitting snooze on the alarm clock when you planned to wake up early and exercise, and the like. But developing good habits is just as, if not more, important.
In order to be successful in your health plan, you have to train yourself and develop healthy habits. Instead of just cutting yourself off from unhealthy snacks, replace them with healthy alternatives. By setting a schedule for yourself, it will feel more natural to follow your health plans. The new habits you build up for yourself will help you to stay inside the lines.
2. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re going to take better care of your body, but unless you lay out a specific plan, the chances of that actually happening are slim. Plan out a regular schedule and menu for yourself, and then stick to it. That way, you don’t have to figure things out in the moment, when you may be stressed out, in a rush, or surrounded by temptation.
Think of your willpower as a finite resource that only replenishes while you’re resting. When you make a plan ahead of time, you’ve got a full pool to draw on. Having a plan in place early makes it easier to make good decisions when the time arises because those good decisions were already made.
3. Health follows a vicious cycle.
A lot of people who live a healthy lifestyle will agree that the hardest part of getting healthy is the very beginning. When you’re eating poorly, your body doesn’t feel like exercising. When you don’t follow a good sleep schedule, you’re tired and don’t want to spend time exercising and planning out meals.
What you need to do is break that cycle, and then adjust it so that it works in your favor, because the opposite side of that cycle is also true. When you eat well, your body is better nourished, and you’re much more likely to be up to a healthy workout. When you’re working out regularly, it’s easier for your body to sleep. When you sleep regularly and are eating healthy, your brain functions more clearly, and you’ll be much less prone to hearing that negative, self-critical voice in your head all day.The cycle’s still there—it’s just less vicious.
4. Sugar is the enemy!
When you’re not eating healthy, it can feel like sugar is the best thing in the world. But when you cut sugar out of your diet for a while and then try it again, it becomes clear how big of an impact it’s having on your body.
When you cut processed sugar from your diet, it becomes much easier to choose healthy foods. Consuming a lot of sugar is at the root of a lot of the cravings people have for unhealthy foods. Plus, it affects almost every part of the body, from our teeth, heart, liver, and gut to our hormone production and even our brains. That doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to have anything sweet in your life, but rather than processed snacks loaded with high fructose corn syrup, consider a more natural alternative, like fruits, berries, or antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
5. Simplicity is your best friend.
If you really want total control over what you’re taking into your body, then keep it simple. Meals with fewer ingredients mean tighter control over your nutrition. Stick to ingredients you can pronounce—or at least ingredients that you recognize and know what they are. Familiarize yourself with your produce section and find ingredients that are good for you and that you can enjoy. As you do so, you’ll start to develop a repertoire of go-to meals that you no longer need a recipe for, and they’ll turn out perfectly every time.
6. Vacation: To cheat or not to cheat?
Vacations are tough, because they disrupt the schedules and habits you spend so much time cultivating. Every time you leave your home, you have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it or not to cheat a little bit on your food plan. Sometimes, it’s worth a little bit of a cheat to experience the delicious cuisine of a far off land—or even Mama’s home cooking when you take a trip home. Only you know what you can handle, but if you can, make that decision before you even step out the door.
7. There’s never enough time in the day.
Work. Meal preparations. Workouts. Family duties. There’s just never enough time to fit everything in. Even if you schedule in time for yourself—even if you plan out every second of your day—there’s never enough time to get it all done! But that’s okay, because there’s always tomorrow… and the next day… and the next. You’ve got this!
8. This lifestyle ain’t cheap! (But it’s worth the investment.)
A healthy lifestyle isn’t always a cheap lifestyle, especially because there are so many cheaper, unhealthy options available. High-fructose corn syrup is cheap. Foods that have been loaded with preservatives last longer, which means they sell for less. Gym memberships cost money, and so do supplements. But as you load your body with healthy alternatives and regular exercise, you’ll be healthier, and you’ll be happier. Plus, when your body is healthy, you’re much less prone to things like heart disease, liver failure, and other issues. Healthy living can be expensive, but those doctor bills can add up really quickly.
9. It gets easier.
It’s really hard to start yourself into a healthy lifestyle, but when you put your head down and push through that early block, it does get easier. Whether it’s just you or you’re pulling your spouse and kids along with you, it’s worth it, and it’s not always going to be as rough as the beginning. Get creative and figure out some delicious options that are still healthy. Find ways to motivate yourself to meet your goals, and each day it will be easier than the last.
10. Most people don’t get it.
Although your friends and family love you and want you to succeed, sometimes they’re the ones who make healthy living the most difficult. People are conditioned by society from an early age to follow what most people consider a “normal” diet. Many consider healthy eating and exercise to be a short term goal, and they may be confused when you change your lifestyle. Don’t let it bother you, though, because whether they understand it or not, you’ll feel better. It’s worth it!