The Foundation of a Healthy Lifestyle.

Happy Friday! I know I haven’t written a Fitness post in WAY too long. While I enjoy exercising and I do think it is important in a healthy lifestyle, I often feel like my knowledge on the subject is limited. So I’ve decided to begin a new segment called First Friday Fitness. While I may supplement another fitness post throughout the month, you can definitely expect one on the first Friday of every month.

Yes, I realize today is technically the second Friday of the month, but since last Friday was New Years Day I decided to wait. Today I want to talk about the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Before we go on, let me remind you that I am not a doctor. These are my opinions and any changes you make to your lifestyle should be done with advice from a doctor and other degreed experts. Okay? Okay.

I built this body to relax in.

I Am Woman by Jordin Sparks

Now if you’ve been around you might remember a post I wrote about becoming your goal self. In it I stated there’s three steps everyone needs to take when getting serious about exercise, and I still believe in that post. Those are the things you need to do before you take on the exercise journey. Once you’ve been honest and worked out those three steps, then you work on the fourth step–Get to Work. You can find today’s post in that bonus step.

There are multiple levels and steps to being fit and having a body you’re comfortable in. I’m sure there’s many more than what I am stating in this post, but as I see it there are three main aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you need for a strong and healthy foundation. They are:

*Eating Habits
*Physical Activity

If only diets worked then there wouldn’t be so many jokes about stopping-and-starting them. The Monday Diet. If only exercising worked then so many experts wouldn’t speak about the 80/20, or similar, rule. If commitment wasn’t such an issue, well then there wouldn’t be so many gym memberships created and barely used. You need to address these three things to have a strong foundation.

Eating Habits
What are your eating habits like right now? Could they be healthier? What is something you absolutely cannot give up and how are you going to allot for it in your new healthier lifestyle? Do you need to be less strict?

Wait, you might say, you’re talking about a diet. Why would I need to be less strict if I’m going on a diet? Well that’s the thing I hate about “diets”. They’re temporary. They bring about temporary changes. I am not talking about going on a diet. I am talking about making permanent eating changes that are beneficial to your overall health. So when I say, Do you need to be less strict, I mean: Will the habits you have now sustain a lifestyle of health and exercise?

Ballerinas are known for being the epitome of thin and fit. Want to know a not so kept secret? We like to EAT. I don’t mean bird food. I mean we are ravenous beasts after a day full of classes and I’m pretty sure the term Hangry was invented because of us. Why are we so hungry? Because we’re working our buns off and we need food to replenish that energy. We have to have a full diet in order to properly replenish our body’s resources. That goes the same for anyone who wants to be healthy and fit. If you are eating a salad with a tablespoon of vinaigrette on the side and a teacup of yogurt, you cannot expect your body to support a healthy exercise regiment. It will not happen. You will cause your body injury in some form or other.

Physical Activity
Much the same questions can be applied to physical activity. How active are you now? Could you be more active? Is there something like an injury or health condition you have to be careful about when it comes to how active you can be? Are you too active and not giving your body enough time to recuperate?

I’d say, depending on how active you are, you need at least one day a week to rest. If you do not rest your body cannot repair itself and that will lead to injuring yourself. Not letting yourself rest when you’re injured will lead to bigger issues. Even something as minor as a sprain can become a problem if you do not give it ample time to rest and heal. How often you exercise is going to depend on your goals, how much time you have, and your physical activity level.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why physical activity is so important, but I’ll do it anyway in case you need a reminder. Exercising helps to improve both physical and mental health. Cardiovascular health is the most widely known and one might argue that it’s one of the most important benefits. Take it from someone born with CHD, having a heart that works properly and is able to supply your body with oxygenated blood unhindered is a big step in living at all. Exercise can help support your body so that it doesn’t break down. From the spinal cord to the soles of the feet, it’s important to keep the body limber. Building up the muscles and ligaments will help prevent injury. The more oxygen intake you have, the better your body works as a whole and exercising will make it possible to up those levels. Physical activity is also important for mental health. Apart from releasing endorphins, which are big factors in staving off mental illnesses such as depression, physical activity can also help slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. You need a consistent, healthy exercise regiment in your life for so much more than looking good in a swimsuit.

Now as they say, don’t ruin a good workout with a bad meal. I did this for awhile even though I knew better. I told myself that I was in the studio so much that a sleeve of oreos wasn’t going to hurt me, but it did. Not only was I not giving my body the proper fuel it needed to replenish, I was actually making it harder on myself to gain the body I wanted. Once I became honest with myself and made necessary changes, I started to see a lot of progress. I am not saying that I no longer eat Oreos or any other unhealthy food. If I did say that, it would be a big fat lie. I am saying that I learned to change my eating habits to something that better supported the lifestyle and body I wanted to live in.

At the same time, does your activity level match the amount of food you are consuming? Is your activity level a proper counter-balance to how much you eat?

I include this one because you can have healthy eating habits and exercise regiment, but if you do not stay committed to it then all of your hard work will go down the drain. Not just down the drain, you may find yourself fighting a harder battle. How easily can a week of missing healthy decisions become a month or six months? All those muscles you worked so hard to achieve? If you don’t keep at it you may find them resorting back to being a problem, and therefore may constantly find yourself beginning at step one. Having to start in the same spot over and over can be a big discouragement. Soon you may find yourself wondering why you put the effort in at all and lose sight of the healthy life you could have. If you stay committed, living a healthy life becomes easier.

If you need help then find an accountability partner. It can be a friend, a spouse, a trainer, or a fellow gym member/park walker/class taker. Find someone who will help ease the burden and remind you of the better things when the hard days come. Someone who will remind you that this is so you can relax in the body you have.

I hope at the very least that this post makes you think of what a healthy lifestyle would be like for you. I really hope that it helps you on your own journey for a happy and healthy life. Happy Friday!

What does a healthy lifestyle look like for you? Is it a journey you need to begin or one you’ve been on? What would having a body you can relax in look like for you? Is there one or more foundation basic that you need to work on?

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