Starting a healthy lifestyle is more than going on a diet or buying a gym membership for your New Year's Resolution. A healthy lifestyle is about embracing a way of life that helps you avoid disease and perform at your optimal levels. It requires a balance of healthy foods, exercise and happiness.
1. Calories and Weight. A healthy lifestyle isn't about counting calories or weighing your food, however it does require that you stay within your healthy weight range through calorie control. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of a number of conditions including cardiovascular disease and strokes. If you are overweight or even underweight, you need to make changes to your diet to get within your healthy weight range. Creating a calorie deficit (burning more than you eat) will cause weight loss while creating a calorie surplus (eating more than you eat) will cause weight gain.
2. Eat Healthy. Controlling your calorie intake will help you reach your healthy weight range but calories alone will not necessarily make you healthier. You can get fat from eating healthy foods just as you can lose weight from eating junk food. The amount of calories you take in has little to do with the over health of the foods you eat. Avoid unhealthy calories such as simple carbs (sugars), saturated fats, trans fatty acids, foods high in sodium and processed foods. Maximize your intake of healthy calories such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and unsaturated fats. Generally, the more processing that goes into a food, the unhealthier it is. Cooking most of your food will go a long way in improving your overall diet.
3. Cardiovascular Exercise. Cardio will help you burn a large amount of calories which can help with weight loss and provide some key health benefits. Cardio can lower cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure. Good examples of cardio include running, swimming, biking and playing most sports.
4. Start Lifting Weight. Strength training has a role in everyone's exercise routine. Whether you're trying to gain muscle or lose weight, strength training can help. Strength training helps build muscle which will increase your resting metabolic rate. More muscle means burning more calories, even at rest, which means faster weight loss and a more toned appearance.
5. Be Happy. The most important step in starting a healthy lifestyle is to make yourself happy. Being healthy isn't about depriving yourself of the food you love or exercising until you puke. It's about shaping your existing lifestyle around healthier choices. You can still eat the foods you love and spend time doing the activities you enjoy. If your healthy lifestyle is hard to upkeep, it won't last very long.