I can’t believe another year has already gone by! When a new year was around the corner, I already knew what my resolution was going to be. It was always “I want to lose weight.” If by the end of the year I did not lose the amount of weight I wanted to lose, I’d be so disappointed in myself. On top of that, I already had negative self-esteem because I’d had people say things about my weight. I spent way too much time worrying about my weight and how ugly I felt because my body was not a certain size.
One thing that I learned growing up is that the number on the scale doesn’t necessarily dictate the health of the individual. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, let’s focus on improving our overall health! Today, I’m sharing positive self-improvements to make in 2019 that’ll help to improve your overall health. I encourage you to implement one, some, or all of these into your life. Instead of making these self-improvements a 2019 resolution, incorporate them as part of a healthy lifestyle!
In our busy lives, it is so easy to neglect taking care of ourselves. Life can get hectic sometimes and we forget to show ourselves some love! Self-care is so important because it helps to maintain or improve our mental and physical well-being. The type of self-care will differ from person to person because we all have different preferences. I encourage you to find what makes you feel happy and at peace and incorporate them as part of your own self-care practices!
These are some of my own self-care practices:
- Wake up everyday feeling grateful about this healthy body that allows me to do so many amazing things.
- Always being body positive.
- Moving my body everyday, whether it’s through physical activity or exercise.
- Preparing and eating wholesome, nutrient dense foods to nourish and fuel my body.
- Always being my true self and not what others want me to be.
- Avoiding negative self-talk.
- Not worrying about what others think about me.
- Getting enough hours of sleep every night.
- Never comparing myself to others.
- Always making time everyday to spend time with my boyfriend and my adorable little cats.
Just like self-care, many of us do not make health a priority. We get so caught up on other things going on in our lives that we put off our health. Some people also tend to make taking care of others their priority without even realizing it! Think about how you can improve your overall health and make it a priority. Overall health includes your physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. When you write down the aspects of your overall health you want to improve, don’t necessarily focus on the outcome. I truly believe that focusing more on the new behavior change is more important than focusing on the outcome. Focusing on the number on the scale and how many pounds you want to lose is an example of an outcome. You have to remember that the number on the scale does not dictate how healthy one is. Growing up, I knew someone who I thought was healthy just because of the size of her body, despite the fact that she was constantly eating enormous amounts of junk food. As I got older, I started to realize that being a certain size or weight does not determine the health of the individual. Our bodies are all so different from each others and that is such a beautiful thing! Instead, focus on eating more unprocessed, nutrient dense foods that aim to nourish your body. This is considered a new behavior change.
I am one who loves to enjoy a meal at a restaurant once in a while. Probably about two or three times per week. I personally believe that having a healthy balance between preparing and eating at home and enjoying restaurant meals is key to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. I know there are many people who struggle with finding that balance. If you are one to eat at a restaurant almost everyday, I encourage you to start enjoying more nutritious meals at home! There are plenty of benefits to eating at home! You know exactly what is going in your food and how it’s being prepared. Eating real, whole foods will lessen the amount of processed foods you eat on a daily basis. You’ll notice that you’ll have more energy throughout the day because you are fueling your body with nourishing foods. Having well balanced meals will keep you feeling satiated throughout the day and will not have you binging on junk foods between meals or at night. Your sugar cravings may start diminishing. You’re digestion will improve. You’ll notice that you are sleeping better. I can go on and on! If you consider yourself a novice in the kitchen, look up some healthy recipes online! Guess what? You can find plenty of nourishing recipes by clicking on the Recipes tab on my blog!
Just like I am not a fan of focusing on the number on the scale, I am also not a fan of calorie counting. I truly believe that we should focus more on the quality and nutrient density of the foods we consume. Many foods on the market that are advertised as low-calorie and low-fat have lots of weird ingredients in them and are not nutrient dense. Even products advertised as low-sugar or no sugar added can be very misleading. Juices and drinks are a great example of this. They can sometimes be loaded with artificial sweeteners or are a sugar bomb from all the fruit used to make the juice. Don’t get me wrong, I love fruit! I’d much rather consume the entire fruit than drink it because the whole fruit contains fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that can be lost through the juice making process and will actually fill me up. Always choose nutrient density over calorie counting because when you eat nutrient dense foods, you feel satiated throughout your day! Nourishing food is fuel for our bodies. Our bodies thrive off of nutrient dense foods. It is what helps keep our bodies going!
Food guilt is something that I have struggled with before. Every time I wanted to try a food that was not considered paleo, I would punish myself for wanting to enjoy it. I would punish myself by loading up on green juices, decreasing my caloric intake, eating just pure vegetables all day, exercising multiple times a day, skipping meals, or burning a crazy amount of calories. It was the worst feeling because you can’t just enjoy the moment. You become so fixated on how you shouldn’t be consuming the food you decided to eat and you feel so much guilt while eating it and after eating it. For me, completing a Whole30 and finding my food freedom is what helped rid of the food guilt! It feels so great to have a healthy relationship with food! If I decide that, for example, a piece of cheesecake feels worth it for me to eat at the moment, I’m going to eat it and it’s all going to be okay! It’s not the end of the world! I enjoy it, go on with my life, and don’t stress over it. I understand that for some people it may be easy and for others more challenging to rid of the food guilt. Don’t give up! If you keep working on it, you will definitely get there!
Our bodies are made to move! Try incorporating more movement into your day, especially if you feel that you are sedentary most of the day due to a desk job or other reasons. I like to incorporate exercise at least 4 days out of the week and physical activity 7 days out of the week. Exercise is any planned, structured, and repetitive activity that is performed to maintain or improve physical fitness. On the other hand, physical activity is any movement produced by the skeletal muscles that requires energy. Examples of physical activity are walking, gardening, climbing the stairs, dancing to some music, rollerblading, and playing recreational sports. If you work at the computer or have any type of desk job, try scheduling in a short walk during your break or stand up and move your body around every 30 minutes to an hour. Figure out what type of physical activity or exercise you enjoy and stick to that! When you find something you love, whether it’s boxing or gardening, you are more likely to continue incorporating that into your daily life! Get that body moving!
Drinking lots of water is vital for keeping our bodies hydrated. Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, so it is absolutely important to drink up that H2O! If your go-to choice of drink is usually soda, try slowly incorporating more water and lessening the amount of soda you consume. Plus, many sodas have either lots of sugar or lots of artificial sweeteners (or both!). Plain sparkling water is also a good option if making the transition from soda to water is a little more challenging for you. If you want to give it a little flavor, you can add a few squeezes of lemon or lime to make lemon or lime sparkling water. There may be other things that people sip on to stay hydrated, but I believe that H20 is the way to go! I always carry around my 30 oz. Yeti tumbler with me filled with water that way I always have water with me even when I’m out of the house!
Many people struggle with practicing mindful eating. To me, mindful eating is truly paying attention to the food you are consuming. I have definitely gone through a phase where I was mindlessly eating. I would eat foods out of boredom. I would eat while at the movies, not because I was hungry, but because I just wanted to munch on something during the movie. I would munch on lots of food at parties until I was ridiculously full. I never truly paid attention to what I was eating and why I was eating it. I’ve learned to practice mindful eating and there are so many benefits to it. You learn when you are truly hungry and when you want to munch on something just because you’re bored. You take time to really chew and actually taste your food. You learn how different foods affect you throughout the day. You learn what foods your body truly thrives off of. You learn what foods negatively affect your body. You learn what foods fuel your body for exercise. I know I say this a lot, but every body is different. We all thrive off of different foods. Mindful eating allows us to better understand what works for our own unique body. I know it can be a challenge to practice mindful eating, but it is definitely worth it! As long as you continue to try and start to truly listen to your body, you’ll eventually transition to eating mindfully and not mindlessly!
Take care of your mental health! We can sometimes have this negative self-talk in our heads. An example of this is telling ourselves we are not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough. Avoid any negative self-talk, or negativity in general, because this will not do you any good when it comes to your mental health. Instead of focusing on things you could have or should have done, focus on all of the goals you have accomplished and celebrate them! Stop comparing yourself to others because that will really affect your mental health. Rid of all the self-criticism and toxic relationships in your life. It’s important that you are surrounded by positive people who support you! Whenever you’re feeling stressed out, nervous, anxious, or depressed, try to step out and get some fresh air. Practice self-care and do things that truly bring you joy and make you feel at peace. Good mental health is important, along with other aspects of health, to living a happy and healthy life!
Getting a good night’s rest is often overlooked. The amount of hours of sleep per night will differ from person to person. Some people only need 6 hours of sleep for their bodies to perform optimally and others need 8 hours of sleep. It comes back to how we are all different! People who struggle with getting better sleep may be affected in many ways. They may be less alert, less productive, less creative, and more irritable. Experimenting and finding out how many hours of sleep works for your body can have a positive effect on mental heath. The stress and irritability that comes with lack of sleep can lead to anxiety and depression. There are many strategies that you can try to help get better sleep. Try to schedule a bedtime for yourself and keep it consistent. The more consistent you are, the more your body will make it somewhat of a habit. Stay away from drinking any caffeine in the afternoon or in the evening because it may be difficult for you to fall asleep or will affect your sleep quality. Put all electronics when you are about to go to bed that way you are not tempted to browse social media or the internet. Eat more nutritious, nutrient dense foods and less junk foods. These less nutritious foods can mess with your digestion and may affect your sleep. Try out some of these strategies and pay attention to what helps you sleep better!