5 Aspects of Starting a Health Journey
Sometimes when you think about improving your health, you may think about it in terms of aesthetics. You might want to lose weight or become more muscular because it looks good. However, health is more about feeling good and healthy than looking a certain way. Here are five aspects of starting a health journey.
1. A Holistic Approach
Much of health has to do with your physical body, but you should also focus on your mental and spiritual health, too. Diet and exercise can help you lose weight, tone muscle and improve blood pressure, but they also help stabilize your mood and improve sleep quality. Similarly, taking care of your mental health can improve your physical health. Speaking to a therapist or practicing meditation and deep breathing exercises can help you control symptoms of anxiety and depression. Unify Health Labs is an example of a program that advocates this type of approach, treating health as an all-encompassing, life-improvement experience rather than just a means to an end.
Consistency is key in health improvement journeys. Short, extreme diets and fitness routines may be marketed for quick changes, but they’re also less likely to last in the long-term. You want to find a routine that works for you over a long period of time and that you can modify as needed. Instead of making yourself diet and go to the gym for an hour or more every day to prepare for a special occasion and then abandoning those changes, look at your long-term goals and make small adjustments to your lifestyle that you can consistently implement every day.
3. Gradual Improvement
Improving your health isn’t a situation where you can see instant results safely. Products like weight loss teas might make you look or feel thinner quickly, but they aren’t good for you in the long-term. Instead, you should keep in mind that all aspects of fitness will show gradual improvement. You can start working on building muscle by lifting three-pound weights and slowly work your way up to heavier weights as you gain strength. If you’re new to meditation, start with a short guided meditation and slowly introduce longer and more self-regulated routines. If you’re new to working out or eating healthy, slowly incorporate activity and new foods into your routine over time instead of shocking your system with a sudden change. Gradual improvement will help you transition safely and be more likely to stick with these changes long-term.
Healthy living doesn’t mean you need to spend the rest of your life only eating kale and egg whites. Think about the foods you like and research ways to make them healthier. If you like milkshakes, try making yourself homemade smoothies. Remember that fats and carbs aren’t inherently bad. It’s the processed foods and trans fats that are bad for you. If you modify recipes to incorporate more healthy and whole foods, your diet will improve without necessarily needing to restrict yourself. Exercise is similar. Don’t do exercises that you don’t find enjoyable or that make you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t like running, there are other ways to get your cardio in, for example, like biking or kickboxing. Finding foods and exercises you enjoy increases your chances of sticking to new health routines.
It’s important not to over-do things when you begin a health journey. Over-exercising and under-nourishing your body can be just as damaged as the opposite. You should work to create balance in your fitness routine by incorporating a combination of cardio with toning all your muscle groups, doing moderate and vigorous activity and including stretches and rest days. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to. You should also work to create a balanced diet that works for you.
It can be beneficial to discuss your health goals and possible strategies with a healthcare professional, especially if you have a chronic condition such as celiac disease that has certain dietary restrictions, so you do what’s best for your body and mental health.