You’ve decided to make some changes to your lifestyle and are now wondering where to begin. With all of the many suggestions for what to eat, drink, and how to get moving, it can be overwhelming. In this article, we aim to dispel a few of the myths and misconceptions of the wellness world as well as introduce some of the most important aspects to know.
First and foremost, a plan is vital. No matter the aspect of health, it is necessary to create goals, both long and short term to aid your journey. Without such landmarks to work towards, momentum often fades and it becomes easier to slip back to a lifestyle of convenience. Keep in mind that creating a sustainable, healthy, lifestyle takes effort and will not be accomplished with a 3 day fad diet or magical protein bar. Many of those products and programs are done simply to get money from consumers. In the end, a detailed plan and hard work produce longer lasting results and sustainable success.
Nutrition is a large aspect of a healthy lifestyle. A good rule of thumb is to avoid fast food and pre-packaged food. The more processed a food item is, the more difficult it is for your body to digest and get the proper nutrients it needs. When a food item has been processed many times over, it becomes less and less valuable to the body. For example, when whole grains are processed to create white bread, much of the fiber and essential vitamins and minerals are stripped away, leaving empty calories. Thus, as you are beginning to establish sound eating habits, aim to eat food in as natural a state as possible.
Another aspect to help guide proper nutrition is the calorie equation. According to the USDA, the average adult needs from 1,800- 2,400 calories a day, depending on activity levels. A more detailed breakdown of this recommendation according to your age, gender, and activity is linked below. Eating more calories than are expended results in weight gain. Keep in mind that one pound of weight gain is approximately equal to 3,500 calories. That means that if you eat an extra 100 calories per day, which is the equivalent of 1 spoonful of peanut butter, it will result in a pound of weight gain within 35 days. Thus, it is easy to see how over the course of a year weight can slowly add up. Calorie amounts of various foods can be found on nutrition labeling and on websites which are also located in additional resources below.
Achieving recommended activity levels is another important thing to keep in mind with wellness. Physical activity aids in lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes. This amount can be reached through various means of activity such as walking, biking, swimming and running. The key is to find a type of activity you enjoy and starting to implement it little by little into your weekly routine. As it becomes an enjoyable habit and less of a chore, exercise will be a natural part of your everyday life.
The thought of making lifestyle changes can be daunting but by starting by creating a plan, much of the confusion can be eliminated. Learning proper nutritional principles and eating fresh, whole foods will aid your body in obtaining the necessary energy and nutrients it needs. Finally, as you try various activities and exercise often, your cardiovascular health will improve and you will have greater strength and agility to complete daily tasks. Following these basic principles will lay the foundation for a healthier you.
- A more detailed breakdown of calorie needs from the USDA site
- More information about exercise recommendations
- Calorie counting websites: