April 4, 2014

Implementing Sustainable Healthy Habits

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. If you have specific health concerns, you should discuss these with a medical expert. I am merely a person on the internet, talking about things that have worked for me.

Everywhere you turn, you’ll find quick fixes. Things to do to “get healthy quick” or “lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” Often times, these “fixes” include heavily regimented plans that eliminate a dozen foods, encourage a “detox” that involves only a short list of approved foods (or only juices), have you working out hard, day after day after day with no rest, or other sustainable habits.

Turns out, it’s not a quick fix. If you’ve ever been caught up in one of these, you know this truth. There are no quick fixes. Mentally and physically, we aren’t meant to go through such restrictive measures long-term. It’s not sustainable. And for most of us, it backfires. We end these “fixes” by overindulging. There is rarely balance.

But if we implement simple, sustainable habits, we can move towards greater health and well-being without all of the back-and-forth nonsense. How do we do that?

Don’t unnecessarily restrict foods or entire food groups. If you need to eat gluten-free for health reasons, or are allergic to a certain food, by all means, don’t eat those things that harm you. But eliminating all carbs, all sources of sugar, all fats, grains, or other foods groups sets you up for a great deal of stress and unhealthy relationship with foods, not to mention possible metabolic issues. You don’t have to restrict everything that tastes good in order to be healthy. Eat a wide variety of foods, and eat them in moderation.

Move your body. Note: this does not mean join a daily boot-camp, plus run 10 miles each day, plus do powerlifting or CrossFit. It does not mean wearing your body down so much that you cannot move the following day. Yes, elite athletes might do 2-a-days when training for an event. But for the most of us, we are not elite athletes. We’re just trying to juggle a healthy lifestyle along with a full-time job, family, bills, chores and a thousand other things. But if you make it a priority to move your body in a sustainable way most every day, no matter what the movement is, it can become a positive, healthy habit. You can do whatever makes you happy, and whatever fits your level of ability. Take a walk – even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Lift weights. Do pilates or yoga. Ride a bike. Play a sport. Do CrossFit if it really makes you happy. Just don’t do all of these things, all at once, all day long.

Give yourself time to rest. Make sure you allow yourself enough sleep each night. If your body is screaming at you to rest and you’re aching from consecutive days of hard workouts, in spite of the fact that you scheduled yourself for a 10-mile run that morning, heed the suggestions of your body. Take it easy. Taking time out for yourself to heal and rejuvenate is just as important as active time. Besides, enough rest can help you attack the following day with renewed energy and vigor.

Treat yourself. Part of a healthy lifestyle includes having fun. Enjoy some ice cream after dinner. Make cookies with your kids. (Or relax and let Udi’s make you some gluten-free ones!) Schedule a massage. Go out and see a movie with friends or your significant other. Many of us work hard all the time, and allowing treats and fun into our lives is just as important as getting things done. If we’re not here on this Earth to enjoy it, then why are we here?

Ultimately, implementing healthy habits shouldn’t feel like torture, and most of us didn’t become healthy overnight by dramatically changing every facet of our lives. Small, sustainable changes (such as choosing to go for a walk, or trying to eat more vegetables) are far easier and less painful to implement. And they’re much more likely to become a normal part of your everyday life.

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

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