Being a Healthier "You"
Making the change toward a healthier lifestyle might seem like an insurmountable task, and the first 30 days are definitely the hardest. Here’s some good news: Once you decide to live healthier, you can do a lot to reverse the damage done to your body. If you remember nothing else after reading this, keep three things in mind: get moving, eat a balanced diet, and get some sleep! You’ll feel healthier in no time.
Healthy Living: Mind and Attitude
“The truth is that if you want to live a long and fruitful life, you’ll need to make significant changes to your lifestyle,” says Walter Willett, M.D., the pioneering nutritionist and author of Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. He acknowledges the common excuses we make (time, etc.) but stands firm that everyone can start somewhere.
Regardless of your starting point or your personal goals, living healthier begins with a change in your mindset. There may be many emotions you have to grapple with during the first 30 days of living healthier—including fear of failure.
Joanne Dalsasso knows this fear all too well. When a friend challenged her to live healthy for five weeks, the worries and self-doubt crept in. “Because of my past experiences with weight loss and weight-loss programs, I fear that once the novelty wears off I’ll get bored with it all and give up,” she says. “I ask myself, ‘What will make this time different?’”
Quash these fears by setting small, achievable goals. Achieving those will get you to the long-term goal of being healthy! There may be slip-ups, but it’s when you pick yourself back up and persevere that you become a success.
Eating Your Way to Healthy Living
There’s no compromise on this one: Developing a healthy eating plan is a mandatory part of healthy living.
The key elements of a good diet include high amounts of fiber, vegetables and fruits, moderate amounts of protein and small amounts of healthy fats (read: there’s a reason for the USDA food pyramid). This diet does not contain foods with excessive sodium, trans fats, sugar and empty calories. Can’t pronounce the ingredients? Put it back on the shelf.
A trip to an animal slaughterhouse led Steve Zitsman to give up meat and become a vegan. “I went from a person who had some kind of meat at every meal to a person who ate no animal products at all.” Steve explains that he educated himself on how his body works and structured a diet around the fruits, vegetables and legumes that he enjoyed.