When I started my weight-loss journey many years ago I definitely had a different mindset. I just didn’t want to be fat anymore. I wanted to fit into smaller clothes and look good. When I started Weight Watchers I was excited to be able to eat whatever I wanted as long as I stayed within my points for the day. Some days I would have Lucky Charms for breakfast and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups for lunch. Right now, their plan states that fruits and vegetables are zero points but back when I started they weren’t. There is no way I was going to waste my points on a banana when I could have a Twinkie.
One of the many things I love about WW is that you can eat your points however you choose and still lose weight. This past year, I really wanted to focus on my overall health and wellness as well as losing weight. I have finally learned the importance of putting nutritious food into my body and how it helps me function in a whole new way. That’s not to say I don’t have a treat every now and then but it is not my goal to see how I will get through the day eating all my points on processed sugary foods and then having only a tomato for dinner.
What exactly does it mean to be healthy? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines healthy as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Trying to become healthier can seem overwhelming and may look different for everyone. One person might feel like they need to lose weight and another would just like to control the stress in their lives. The first thing I would recommend is trying to determine how you are wanting to feel. Do you need to improve your physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing? Maybe it is all of them.
If you are looking to improve your physical health you may need to start a new diet, adjust your current food choices, stop drinking or smoking, get more sleep, as well as begin adding exercise into your routine. If you are wanting to focus on your mental and emotional wellbeing you may need to look at controlling your stress levels, incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques, look for ways to slow down your schedule, or seek therapy.
Begin by setting some goals. Sometimes when we set a goal to get healthy, we feel we need to change everything all at once. When it feels overwhelming we are less likely to try something new. It is ok to take small steps. Remember, adding even one new healthy behavior can make a big difference to your health.
Some small changes you could make to improve your physical health could be:
- Reduce sugary and processed food.
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. If you don’t like fruits and vegetables try mixing them with other food. For example, add a banana to a protein shake or an apple to oatmeal. Throw some spinach in with your eggs or add some lettuce to your sandwich. At least you will be getting some nutritious foods in your body.
- Stop drinking soda, sugary drinks, and alcohol and drink more water.
- Start exercising. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a gym try just walking around your neighborhood or look up YouTube videos on how to stretch or do yoga that you could do in your own home.
Some small changes you could do to improve your mental health could be:
- Find time to slow down. Schedule time in your day to take a break.
- Practice breathing techniques.
- Stay active. Invest time in an activity that you enjoy doing.
- Pray or meditate.
- Seek help. Communicate with a friend, counselor, or therapist to help you process your feelings.
Once you start incorporating these changes into your life, you will begin to see many benefits of your new healthy lifestyle. These benefits could be weight loss, a healthier heart, reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved memory and brain health, stronger bones, better moods, and energy levels. You may even be saving money by avoiding medications and other expenses that come with being sick.
Living a healthy lifestyle is so important. Once you start, you will feel so good knowing that you are doing what is right for your body, mind, and soul.