Put Health First, The Rest Will Follow
What happens when you make health your goal instead of just weight loss? You get happy.
So many of us have a goal to lose weight, to fit into a certain jean size, or to look a certain way in a bathing suit. And there's nothing wrong with that. But I'm going to let you in on a little secret...weight loss and health are not one and the same. You can lose weight eating junk food. You may end up reaching your goal weight, but I can guarantee you won't feel energized and full of life, because your cells will be starving for nourishment. Eating low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie foods on a restricted diet may help you to lose weight. But it won't help you to be healthy or happy.
Health is achieved by choosing to nourish your body from the inside-out. When you commit to making health your goal, you'll achieve so much more than just weight loss. Your body will reach its “happy weight”, your skin will begin to glow, your hair and nails will grow long and strong, your digestion will work properly, and you will feel energized throughout your day. You will feel better than you ever imagined you could. Sounds great, right? It is! But it absolutely requires a commitment to being aware of everything you are putting into your body. You will likely have to break old habits that have been in place since childhood.You will have to put in a little extra effort to find the foods that nourish and fuel your body rather than the more convenient processed foods. Once you get used to these new habits, all of the sacrifices will be more than worth the payoff!
The first step is to begin educating yourself on the foods that you are putting into your body. If you aren't already in the habit of reading food labels, it's time to start! When it comes to food, knowledge is power. Here are some easy guidelines for you to begin to follow:
As a general rule, single-ingredient whole foods are the way to go (a.k.a unprocessed items like fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, eggs, meats, etc.).
For any packaged foods that you buy, the fewer ingredients the better. For example, you would want to buy whole steel-cut or rolled oats, as opposed to instant oatmeal.
Whenever possible, choose organic options (this goes for both fresh and packaged foods). I will write a post later on the importance of choosing organic, how it's often more cost effective, and how to easily transition to buying organic.
When buying meats, choose organic grass-fed varieties. And for eggs, choose organic cage-free eggs. Again, I will write a post on the significance of this as well!
Avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs. Choose organic raw honey or agave nectar instead. For a natural calorie-free sweetener, go for stevia (just be sure the version you buy doesn't have any other additives)!
Shop at your local farmer's market each week to pick up some fresh produce you don't normally buy. Don't be afraid to experiment with new foods in the kitchen...it's a great way to introduce different nutrients into your diet, and you never know what may be a new favorite food!
Supplement wisely. At the very least, I recommend that most people take a multivitamin and a fish oil supplement. Do your research on these as well, you only want to put the highest quality ingredients into your body! Feel free to e-mail me for specific recommendations.
Be aware of the quality of the water you are drinking. Get a filter or water purifier for your kitchen, or buy bottled spring water. Drink out of glass rather than plastic whenever possible. I will also write a post on how much water you should be drinking, but as a general rule, drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. Much more than that if you're active!
Re-discover what it's like to move your body for fun! Remember when you were a kid, and you loved to dance, or swim, or jump on a trampoline for hours? Well I now give you permission to be a kid again! Try not to think of exercise as punishment anymore.
Breathe! Even better, breathe deeply through your nose (our magnificent bodies have a built in air-filter system called our nose, so you ingest fewer pollutants this way).
Try not to get overwhelmed by this list if you are brand new to healthy living. Just try to incorporate one new habit at a time, and before you know it you will be feeling and looking great with ease!
I certainly didn't adopt all of these healthy habits overnight, and I'm not always perfect in following them either. But I don't beat myself up when I get a little off-track or choose a less-than-healthy option. Part of healthy living is also having a healthy mindset and allowing yourself the freedom and flexibility to be human and indulge occasionally.
Keep checking back for more guidance on how to live a healthy, empowered life! And please comment below if you have any questions or suggestions on topics you'd like to see in the future.
~With Love ~