When we think of healthy people, the image that comes to mind is usually that of toned runners who drink protein smoothies every morning and compete in Spartan events. However, what we picture isn’t the only definition of health — it’s just what we see on the magazine covers at the grocery store. It’s what society tells us healthy is.
Like so many things in life, health comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s both physical and mental, tangible and intangible. And health comes with doing the things that are right for your body and mind. If you’re looking to start your journey to good health, consider starting with the following choices and activities:
Make Healthy Eating Choices
Before we go any further, I’m going to make it very clear that I don’t encourage dieting. Fad diets are hard to maintain, bad for your body in the long term, and, more often than not, end in failure. When it comes to eating, healthy is choosing the foods that are good, clean, fuel for your body. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and so on. Our bodies need a wide variety of these foods to stay healthy and protect against chronic disease.
You don’t have to cut sugar and fats out of your life to be healthy — all you have to do is make sure you’re eating them in moderation and balancing them with good foods! For more information on how to make healthy eating choices, check out the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.
The internet, streaming television, and food delivery services have made it easier than ever to hole up inside your house and shun the outside world. Unfortunately, as good as being a hermit may feel sometimes, we do need to get outside fairly often in order to maintain our mental and physical health.
Start slow by going for a walk around the block every day at a set time. Pop in your headphones and listen to an audiobook or podcast while you’re at it — it makes for a more interesting walk. Once you’re comfortable, move onto exploring the paths of your favorite park. Then, start varying your walks with simple hikes up local trails. Before you know it, you’ll be breathing easier and have a lot more stamina than you’re accustomed to!
If you’re ready to ramp it up even more, join a community sports team, go climbing at your local climbing gym, start mountain biking, or sign up for a marathon. Don’t push yourself beyond your limits, though. Listen to your body and take things one step at a time. You don’t want to be overzealous and end up with a permanent injury.
Engage In Self-care
Did you know 19 percent of American adults suffer from some form of mental illness? Even for those who don’t, taking care of your mental health is of the utmost importance. One of the simplest ways you can do this is by regularly engaging in self-care.
Self-care is taking part in activities and behaviors that have a positive effect on your mental and physical well-being. There is no one thing that encompasses self-care — it’s different for each person. It’s the end goal that’s always the same: to reduce stress, preserve your relationships, and support your mental and physical health.
Self-care can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or all of the above. Examples include:
- Getting a full night’s sleep
- Managing your emotions
- Seeing a therapist
- Enjoying time alone to rest and recharge
- Keeping a journal
- Engaging in a hobby
- Volunteering in your community
- Connecting with nature
- Practicing yoga or meditation
Remember, the activities you choose to be part of your self-care routine should be relaxing and enjoyable. If something isn’t working for you, move on to another activity! Above all else, put happy first!
Stay Up to Date On Your Checkups
I know, I know, going to the doctor when you’re not actually sick seems like such a waste of time. However, if you want to be healthy, you absolutely must get your yearly wellness exam. The poking and prodding of the physical examination is irritating, and the blood test is rarely anyone’s idea of fun, but these measures fall under the banner of preventative health care — and they’re incredibly important.
These procedures are performed in order to uncover illnesses (like cancer) in their early stages, when they’re far more treatable. Something that might seem completely benign to you could end up being the sign of a far more serious illness — and your doctor is looking for these things during your wellness exam.
There are a lot of little things we do every day that impact our health, and it’s up to us to choose whether what we’re doing has a positive or negative effect. Eating healthy foods, making the most of our time outdoors, taking care of our mental health, and regularly checking it with our doctors are just a few ways we can choose to be healthier and happier. So get out there — a healthier you is just around the corner!
If you'd like a Moosejaw deliverable for this, I can finagle one 🙂
Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter@LizVGreene.