When you’re not feeling fit and healthy, it’s really easy to look at fit people and tell yourself: ‘They’re naturally good at exercise’, ‘Exercise is not as hard for them as it is for me’ or ‘I could never do that’.
I have some good news and some bad news for you… the bad news, you’re wrong! These ‘naturally heathy people’ aren’t ‘naturally healthy’ at all. They’re just like the rest of us. If they stop exercising regularly they’ll lose fitness and likely gain weight. If they don’t continue to eat proper portions of healthy meals, they’ll accelerate these changes. The good news… you can become one of those people who others think are ‘naturally healthy’.
If you’ve spent your life believing you just can’t do it, then I understand if you’re still reading with some scepticism. I’ll be honest, you can’t suddenly become someone who goes on a 10km run, 3 days per week. That level of endurance takes time and training to build. But that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel… far from it, in fact. Instead start small by introducing new habits, one at a time, until you feel you’re able to complete that task 75-80% of the time.
So what are the habits of healthy people?
Move 4-5 days per week
Some people run and some ride bicycles. Many people strength train in a gym or go to group fitness classes. Others choose extreme sports like rock climbing, snowboarding and skateboarding. Water sports like swimming, wakeboarding and surfing are also popular. Most people, at some point in their life, will play a team sport. Despite the many choices for exercise, there’s one thing that healthy people have in common… they don’t all possess an extra bucket of motivation, but they are more motivated to exercise. Why? Because they choose movement that they love.
Top tip: If you hate running, don’t run. If you try cycling but find it’s uncomfortable, try something else. If going to the gym is boring, try an outdoor sport. Try and try again until you find a style of exercise that you enjoy… because enjoying your exercise is the key to building an exercise habit.
Eat mostly unprocessed foods
Healthy people eat mostly unprocessed foods, focusing on five main categories: lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vegetables and fruit. They don’t shy away from carbs, fats or sugar; instead choosing to eat them in moderation. More importantly, healthy people go out for a burger or pizza once in a while, and they enjoy every bite. They prioritise eating healthy food but they don’t deny themselves a treat, because they know that strict rules will eventually be broken.
Top tip: Learn how to make good food taste great. Don’t be afraid to use salt and pepper, and experiment with herbs and spices. A little bit of salt and butter in some mashed potatoes is a better choice than taking a trip to the local chip shop… but don’t forget to support your local chippy; treat yourself once in a while.
Sleep 7-9 hours per night
Healthy people understand that rest and recovery is just as important as exercise, and they prioritise their recovery. Healthy people care about sleep… and we’re not just talking about getting a sleep in on the weekend. Sleep is important every night because it gives our body time to relax and repair following the stressors of the day.
Top tip: Try creating a sleep routine. Simply try switching off all screens (phone, television, laptop and kindle) at least 30 minutes before bed. This can significantly improve your ability to get to sleep, as you remove the stimulating bright lights and give your body time to relax in preparation for sleep.
Water is essential for human survival, yet most people walk around every day at a level of dehydration. It’s really easy to forget to drink… you get distracted then suddenly you realise you’re thirsty; really thirsty. So, you grab a quick swig from your water bottle and move on.
Healthy people know this isn’t enough, and they make a conscious effort to drink about 2 litres of water per day. They also prioritise water consumption, so while they will have a morning coffee, a glass of juice, and even the odd soft drink, they’ll drink their water first.
Top tip: Take your favourite water bottle (if you don’t have one, invest in one) and fill it first thing in the morning. Try to drink it by lunch time then fill it again. Try to drink it before bed.
Choices and emotions
Healthy people make conscious choices and take responsibility for their actions. When a healthy person decides not to work out today, they acknowledge that it was their choice to skip the workout. When healthy people eat a fast food meal, they understand that it was their choice to eat the food. They don’t beat themselves up about it; there’s no feelings of guilt or worry because they made a conscious choice to do those things. After the missed workout or ‘unhealthy meal’ they consciously return to their regular habits – moving regularly and eating mostly unprocessed foods.
Top tip: If you’re thinking it’s time for a fast food dinner, ask yourself, how will I feel after I eat this meal? If you believe you’re able to eat the meal, enjoy every bite, and move on… go right ahead. If you know you’ll binge then feel guilty afterwards, maybe it’s not the right time to have a fast food meal. It’s only worth the instant gratification if you can make and accept your choice, then move on without emotion.
Make it a habit
Healthy people don’t have to force themselves to do these things because, over time, they’ve become habits. They didn’t try to change everything at once; they implemented one habit at a time until they were consistent, then they looked at other areas to improve. Now, they don’t maintain these habits because they feel like they should… they maintain these habits because they enjoy them.
The key to staying healthy for life is to love being healthy.
What healthy habit will you begin today?
About Tara Fitness
Tara has her own online fitness coaching business at http://www.tarafitnesspersonaltraining.co.uk/
where she focuses on empowering women to build a fit and healthy lifestyle so they have the freedom to love the life that they want!