How to Maintain Your Healthy Lifestyle
By Sheila Olson
Anyone who has experienced the feeling of endorphins firing off after a good run or has stuck to a nutritious diet knows some of the rewards of a solid fitness plan, including better concentration and stamina during the workday, deeper sleep at night, and an overall sense of well-being. But many fitness fanatics also know how easy it is to overdo it. Overworking your body can cause health problems or injury, and taking your routine too seriously can rob you of joy and affect your relationships. So what’s the key to keeping your “healthy” lifestyle healthy? Here are a few things you can do to balance your fitness routine and overall self-care.
Decide what you want
Do you want to improve your blood pressure, lose weight, or get stronger? Are you looking to relieve stress or to reduce the symptoms that accompany a chronic illness? Do you want to spend less time in the gym and more time with your kids? Figuring out what you want will help you make decisions about balancing your diet and workout schedule. You don’t have to construct an elaborate, 10-year plan to start living differently. Making an honest assessment of what you want to change will help you to set realistic goals and expectations.
Set concrete and realistic goals
Too many people take an aimless approach to fitness and self-care, which makes it difficult to stick to a routine when the going gets tough. Also, setting and failing to accomplish unrealistic goals can lead to a stifling inferiority complex. It’s useful to come up with a plan that follows the SMART criteria—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Focus your mind
If your goal is whole health, you have to focus on your mind as well as your body. Yoga and meditation are great ways to integrate your physical and mental health. The key to a good meditation practice is, well, practice. Make it easy to make meditation a part of your daily routine by dedicating a corner of your home to your practice. Features like natural light, personalized decor, and relaxing colors will help you focus your mind. As an added bonus, combining exercise and meditation has been proven to improve your mood and help treat depression.
Eat mindfully…and splurge
Any life coach will tell you that a balanced diet is essential to good health. Like exercise, it changes how you feel throughout the day (and affects your exercise). While it’s important to find and stick to a healthy diet that is tailored to the style and frequency of your workouts, don’t be afraid to bend the rules now and then. Rewarding yourself with a splurge meal on the weekends can add joy to your life.
Make sleep a priority
Sleep and exercise are coefficient and codependent. Whether you work out in the morning, afternoon, or night, exercising can result in more energy throughout the day while giving you better rest at night. Restful sleep results in motivation to work out. In a busy world, quality sleep is often the first thing to be sacrificed in order to get more things done. But if you don’t prioritize time for a good night’s sleep, it’s hard to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Have fun! (No, seriously)
When you think of working out, maybe fun is not the first thing to come to mind. (Sometimes it’s simply survival.) But if you want a healthy living routine that is going to last, you need to enjoy it. One thing to consider is exercising with others. Playing a team sport or joining a class can provide a little extra motivation and enhance relationships. If you have a dog, take him on your evening stroll or go for a hike. A study by Michigan State University showed that dog owners are 34 percent more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise than people without dogs. Man’s best friend makes for a loyal exercise buddy, unlike the flaky workout partner who bails on you twice a week.
Balancing anything in life is never easy or perfectly executed. But the closer you come to figure out a balance with your fitness and self-care, the more you can enjoy life. Just remember: having a healthy lifestyle is more than just working out, eating right, and getting sleep. It’s also about giving yourself a break and having fun.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
About the author: Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.