I’m going to be really cliche here, but as the old saying goes health is wealth. Unless you take care of yourself and lead a healthy lifestyle, your ability to pursue all that you want and to see everything on your bucket list is going to be very limited.
Many young adults and young professionals think that there’s plenty of time, that we are invincible. Until you come into close contact with health issues, however, you don’t realize that life is short and you have less time than you think. The body is amazing in its ability to heal, but you need to think of it like a machine. Any machine that’s neglected will stop working.
The healthier you are, the wealthier you are. You live longer, you have more energy, and you have fitness reserve, meaning if you do get sick you bounce back quicker. Plus, you’re better able to preserve memory and truly enjoy the things that matter most to you.
So here, I’d like to discuss leading a healthy lifestyle and empowering yourself on all parts of your health…not just physical but mental and emotional as well so that you can build up your lifestyle wealth.
Establish Healthy Lifestyle Goals
First, you need to realize that health is wealth. Get motivated to take care of yourself. If you aren’t in the mindset of putting yourself first, and prioritizing your health, then it will be very difficult for you to follow through. So, wherever you are in life, get to a place where you’re ready and willing to make a healthy lifestyle a priority and a habit, not just something you do on the weekends or days off.
Once you’re in that mindset, then set about to figure out what your goals are for yourself.
What would you like to accomplish with a healthy lifestyle? This has different meanings for everyone. For instance, when it comes to physical fitness some just want to get moving and make sure they are active. Others prefer to focus on weight loss; still others desire more definition.
What about mental health? What are your goals there? Emotional health? Spiritual health? Social health?
Every part of life deserves some attention and care and balance. But first, you need to define what each of those areas means to you and what you would like each to look like for yourself.
Health Is Wealth, All Parts Of It
We must take care of our overall health. Taking care of just one part or aspect of it doesn’t cut it. Being physically healthy and mentally miserable doesn’t make you healthy. Eating well but feeling isolated from your friends and colleagues can still lead to depression.
Taking care of your health requires that you take care of all parts of it.
Physical health encompasses diet and exercise, plus relaxation and calm. Between workouts, you need to take breaks, stretch, and allow your muscles to heal.
Physical levels of activity are variable amongst people, so how you decide to get and stay active is all up to you. Some ideas to get you started:
- Join a Gym
- Attend classes – Zumba, aerobics, high-intensity training
- Yoga – there are aerobic versions and core power that incorporates cardio and strength training with yoga poses
- Hire a trainer
- Get outdoors: biking, tennis, running, walking
- Join an intramural league for your favorite sport
- Dance classes
- Pole dancing
- Get a Peloton
- Watch youtube videos on at-home exercises
This is just a list to get you started thinking about what the options are out there and to get you going. Choose whatever fits your lifestyle and fitness goals and allows you some regular exercise.
In the same way, your diet should fit your goals for your health. Are you trying to lose weight? Do you need to reduce cholesterol? How are your triglycerides doing? If you haven’t been checked recently, first go do that. Then, figure out what it is you need to do to be healthier and feel better and then incorporate a diet that helps you in those areas.
I’d also like to say that the diet you choose should be one that is sustainable and something that doesn’t make you feel deprived; diets that deprive you ultimately fail because we ultimately cave into our cravings.
In addition, having a cheat day, or a day where you maybe don’t feel like working out or eating healthy, doesn’t mean your entire fitness and health goes out the window. You’re more likely to succeed in attaining your goals if you persist; don’t let one bad day continue on into a bad week. Instead, start up again the next day with your exercise and mindful eating. So long as you keep going and keep moving forward, you’ll achieve your goals.
I’m a huge advocate for everyone seeing a therapist. I started seeing one a few years ago, and even though she told me to stop coming, I still go. Checking in with someone and unloading your stress, and receiving solid objective feedback is unparalleled. We don’t talk about or take care of our mental health enough.
If you aren’t in a place where you can or want, to go for therapy, then consider these alternatives:
- Journaling – writing out your thoughts can do wonders for helping you sort through and deal with your emotions
- Have a friend or family member that you regularly check in with. Find your squad and be there for each other.
- Meditate – give yourself the quiet, mental space to sort through your thoughts and shift your focus so that you are able to deal with them effectively.
- Take regular breaks to reset. Whatever life stressors you’re dealing with, if you don’t regularly take a breath to sort through and let go of the tension that has built up, you will burn out.
- Prioritize sleep – get on a regular schedule, and develop good sleep hygiene.
Again, these are just suggestions to get you started and hopefully get you through whatever you’re currently dealing with. Seeing a professional is, ultimately, the best way to get feedback and learn some techniques and tools for coping.
For anyone who is religious, or follows a religion: are you making time for your faith? Sometimes the act of praying and practicing mindfulness can be very meditative and cleansing.
For anyone who is not religious, might I suggest that you interpret spiritual well-being as getting to know yourself better and understanding your own spirit. As time goes on, life changes, and over time, we realize that we, too, have changed. Check in with yourself every now and again and make sure that what you’re doing on a regular basis truly aligns with who you are and who you are becoming.
It’s important to maintain a social life. Work-life balance is crucial for us to feel like we have control over our lives and are actually living. As we all know, life is short and unpredictable. We have to make the most of our time and of the opportunities that come our way.
I also encourage you to understand that not all friendships are beneficial. A part of nurturing your social health is ensuring that those you do spend time with are the types of people that bring you the fulfillment and support you need or require.
So, with that in mind
- Are you making the most of your days?
- Are you taking opportunities for socializing that come your way with the people that really make you happy?
- Are you filling your free time with unique experiences that teach you and fulfill you?
- Most importantly: are you making time for and prioritizing social time?
It’s difficult when you’re physically and mentally exhausted from work, but sometimes spending time with friends and family can be the very thing that helps you get out of your own head, be yourself, get in a few laughs and jokes, and truly let go of your stress and help you unwind.
If you have moved around a lot for career and training, then making friends in a new city that you can trust and be yourself with can be extremely difficult. Keep trying on that front and in the meantime, utilize all the great resources we have to stay connected long-distance: FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc.
Kickstarting Your Health Goals
You’ve made a list of your goals, you’ve considered some things on this list to do for yourself, and now you have to get started.
Visit the Doctor
Visit your primary care physician first. If you don’t have one, establish care. Set up a relationship so that when questions arise you have someone you can immediately call. Get lab work done, get testing done that they recommend, and follow up to be sure that everything is ok.
Most likely, it all will be, but often what hurts us most aren’t the obvious things. It’s the things that lurk. The high cholesterol, the high blood sugars, the little bits of weight gain that strain our organs, and the high blood pressure that goes untreated.
These are real problems that require real intervention before they develop into something more serious, like heart disease. Much of it can be treated without medication. In order to do that, though, you have to know that the problem exists.
Utilize The Buddy System
Find a friend, group of friends, or family members with similar goals, or with the simple unified goal to get healthy. Do it together and hold each other accountable.
We are often better at moving forward when we move together. Plan physical or social activities together, be each other’s confidant, cook healthy meals and see how much more progress you make!
Consider Paying For It
For some, the only way to get motivated is to throw some money at it. Pay for healthy meals to be delivered, hire a trainer or coach, or buy the equipment you need.
Force Your Hand
Sometimes forcing yourself into situations gives you no choice but to choose the healthy route. For instance, create a no spend month on takeout and buy only healthy ingredients and snacks. When you only have healthy choices, you’ll choose well.
Might I suggest that before going this route, do some prep work. Look up recipes that appeal to you and start out buying ingredients for those. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
Cut down or eliminate alcohol and sugary drinks, and reduce caffeine intake. The first two will greatly decrease your calorie counts, and reducing caffeine can help you sleep better.
Instead, focus on water and staying hydrated. There is no substitute for the stuff, and your body will thank you.
Reap the Benefits
The more you engage in self-care for your health overall, you’re more likely to get the benefits.
Physical exercise helps you decrease or delay the onset of chronic disease and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can reduce inflammation and treat or diminish chronic pain.
A good night’s sleep can reduce stress, improve your focus, and increase productivity. Taking breaks or vacations and spending time with friends and family can leave you feeling fulfilled. Improving your spiritual and mental health can serve to center you, help you to be more mindful (further decreasing stress), and improve your mood.
Health is Wealth
The best way you can empower yourself is by taking care of yourself…your whole self. If you’re healthy on all fronts, you’ll be in a place where you can try new things, take chances, and can grow to meet your true potential.
Take the opportunities and resources you have and make your health: physical, mental, spiritual, social, all of it, a priority. Once you’ve obtained your balance, you’ll be able to do anything you want and you’ll be able to maintain the lifestyle you want.
In other words, health is the real wealth.
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