Surely getting fit and healthy must be more complicated than four simple steps? Well, actually adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be far easier that you think. Many people have the mistaken assumption that following a healthy lifestyle is difficult and dull, when in fact it is the most natural thing in the world. Here are four simple steps to get you started on the road to a happier, healthier life.
I would say that the number one most important lifestyle factor that you must deal with before anything else if you want to become fit and healthy is stress. Being constantly stressed means that our levels of the stress hormone cortisol are elevated. This can lead to serious health problems such as heart-attack or stroke, as well as speeding up the aging process, suppressing immunity and decreasing fertility.
Being constantly stressed makes us depressed, irritable and far more susceptible to vices such as alcohol, drugs and smoking, all of which in turn make us feel even worse.
While there are ways of dealing with stress, I would advise that you change your lifestyle if you feel you are chronically stressed. Perhaps you have too much responsibility at home or at work. Remember that you can ask for help from family and friends, so if you are over-burdened let someone know!
Always make sure to make time for relaxation; it is incredibly beneficial to both your body and mind. Have a warm bath or spend some time simply reading a book. If you like, simply sit on the couch and do nothing; whatever allows you to unwind.
2. Alcohol and nicotine
As tempting as they may be, especially if you are stressed, alcohol and nicotine are the enemies of a fit and healthy lifestyle. While drinking alcohol is fine in moderation, just one cigarette can be incredibly harmful. There is such a thing as safe drinking, but there is no such thing as safe smoking.
Both alcohol and nicotine will sap your body of energy and leave you feeling lethargic. They both cause an excessive number of free radicals to be created in your body, which speeds up the aging process. If you want to stay fit, healthy and youthful you really do have to dump the booze and cigarettes.
3. Getting active
The dangers of being a couch potato are almost innumerable. Leading a sedentary lifestyle contributes to and exacerbates almost every health problem you could think of, not to mention how it encourages stress, depression and lethargy.
Every year many thousands of people succumb to the exact same problem. They begin to feel a little depressed, which makes them feel tired, which makes them stay inside, which in turn causes them to feel even more depressed and tired and so on in a vicious circle.
Trust me, getting active really does make you feel better in every way. Exercise creates endorphins in your brain which make you feel great and vastly reduces the symptoms of stress. Regular exercise will also speed up your metabolism and have you feeling energetic in no time.
If you find it difficult to find the motivation or confidence to get to the gym, why not consider purchasing a piece of gym equipment to use at home? Sole elliptical trainers are great for tackling various different muscle groups at once, and are far more fun to use than exercise bikes. Sole elliptical machines are some of the best on the market, while Horizon elliptical machines offer great value for money.
You may think it’s strange that I’ve left one of the most important factors till last, but I really do think that you have to get everything else in order first. You can adopt a healthy diet if you like, but if you are extremely stressed, dependent on alcohol and nicotine and get no exercise it’s unlikely to succeed.
On the other hand, if you have reduced your stress levels and your alcohol intake and have started to get a little exercise, you’ll find it easy to adopt a healthy diet because you won’t have the cravings for unhealthy foods that you had previously. Stress tends to make us crave carbohydrates, while alcohol makes us crave foods with a high-fat content. Being inactive and eating a lot of carbohydrate makes our insulin levels rise, which in turn makes us feel hungry even when we aren’t.
When it comes to diet, I rely on a very simple formula. I try to eat a small serving of protein in every meal, whether that comes in the form of nuts, legumes, fish or meat. I eat as many vegetables as I want, because there is no reason to ever limit vegetables. I try to eat as many different colors of fruit and veg as I can every day, I don’t eat bread, and I only eat brown rice. Stay away from anything processed and always make your own meals, you’ll soon see the weight falling off.
About the Author:
For freelance writer Ashley Munroe, there is nothing better than a night spent under the stars in the wilderness with her husband after a long hard day’s hiking. But sadly as a busy writer she doesn’t always have time to escape the city. After a busy day of writing she relaxes with yoga and works out on her elliptical machine. She loves updated elliptical reviews and could spend all day talking about how to fit exercise into a busy lifestyle.