It’s week 1 in the Becoming You series and we’re talking starting healthy habits! We’re off to a good start–I was hoping to have this out 8:00 on Thursday, but life happened.
First off, I want to say how blown away I was by the amazing feedback I got on my last post introducing this series! I’m so glad to know that this topic–living life to the fullest–is such a shared passion! It’s made me even more excited to write these posts, so thank you!
This week we’re talking about why starting healthy habits will help kickstart a lifestyle that will enable us to actually use and enjoy our physical bodies instead of just sitting in a desk chair all of the time. I’m not talking about how to get a six-pack or how to lose weight, I want to talk about more long-lasting life changes that I’m trying to implement to ensure that I am treating my body with the respect it deserves.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. My husband, Connor, is a very active and healthy person–he was a professional dance teacher for a while and has his black belt in Taekwondo. I’m the opposite. Sure, I was a lifeguard through high school, but lifeguarding is actually a relatively sedentary job, so even though we were fit, we weren’t active.
And that’s why I want to talk about health not as something to aspire towards, but as something to live. I was in super good shape when I was 16 and getting my lifeguarding certification. But I was a lot less active than I am now! Right now I’m not “in great shape,” but I’ve been feeling healthier at my core, even if my stomach’s softer than it was last year. So I thought about what the differences were between the typical, perfect body that we always go for and actually living a healthy, active life. And these are the three things that I decided make the difference between just having a good body and actually enjoying the bodies that we have.
Be open to new adventures
Let’s be real–we tend to live really sedentary lifestyles, and often we’re too scared to test our bodies’ limits to actually get up off of our butts and go on an adventure. This is a product of just sitting and watching Netflix for hours upon hours for so long.
However, your twenties are the best time to stop this pattern. You’re in a stage in life where you have fewer obligations, so more free time for adventures, for one. Yes, school and work are hectic, but try school and/or work with kids. Much harder, I imagine. So relatively speaking, we have a lot of free time.
As well, we’re still in a good time physically to be stretching ourselves and pushing ourselves to the limits. Most 20-somethings are relatively healthy, and even if you are not, in our twenties our bodies are better at adapting to change than they are at other times in life.
One way to go on an adventure is to push yourself to the limits. Go on a challenging hike in the nearest national/provincial/state park. Learn to kayak this summer and go on a kayaking trip with a friend. Start rock climbing or take dancing lessons. Look for fun, new experiences where you can push yourself physically and train your body to do new things.
But adventures can also be little things–go for walks in the park with a friend and enjoy seeing all of the buds on the trees appear again. Try some of these fun spring activities that get you to appreciate the world around you. We need to change our mindset so that we can see the normal, everyday things as opportunities to explore. Together, these everyday adventures as well as bigger, more challenging adventures are a great way to start a lifestyle that is more active and less sedentary while fostering an attitude of gratefulness and joy in the little things in life.
Start good health habits now
If we’re going to be active, we need to fuel our bodies properly. What habits you start now, as you’re just starting your adult life, will be ones that stick with you for years to come. So why not make those habits good ones?
We live in a society of convenience. There are fast food restaurants on every corner, grocery stores have frozen meals and aisles and aisles of chips and cookies and crackers (have you ever noticed that there are always more packaged foods than there are all of the fruits and veggies and meats combined in the entire grocery store?) and that shows in how we treat our bodies. We can tend to just feed our bodies so we don’t feel hungry anymore rather than feeding our bodies in a way that will fill us with nutrients to help fuel us for the day to come.
This happens with sleep, too, and the steps we take for our medical care. It’s just not convenient to go to bed earlier to wake up earlier, and booking a dentist appointment is such a hassle. So they fall by the wayside.
This needs to stop, however, if we’re going to start healthy habits that will allow us to fully enjoy the life that we’ve been given. If you want to be able to someday climb a mountain or go diving with sharks or whatever it is–we need to stop slowly destroying our bodies and start respecting them.
Be mindful of your health holistically
Many of the problems I’ve had in the past with perpetuating unhealthy behaviours have been due to the fact that I’m quite separated from my bodily experience a lot of the time. I know, it sounds weird, but I didn’t realize how true this was until I started to practice some mindfulness psychology tips and tricks I’ve learned here at school.
We get so caught up in our heads that we forget to listen to our bodies. How often have you been so stressed over a paper you’ve forgotten to eat, or you’ve stayed up way too late? How often have you been so stressed or bored that you’ve just sat in front of a computer screen watching entire seasons on Netflix for days in a row? This is what I mean. Our bodies were not made for this–our bodies were meant to be used, to be active, and to be taken care of. But we get so caught up in our heads that we forget about the rest of us.
We need to take some time and understand that health is an issue that encompasses the entire person. Health is more than just what your BMI is or whether or not you’re an hourglass shape. We focus so much on working out and beating our bodies into submission, but maybe health has more to do with us being at peace with the bodies we have, and through that developing a relationship with ourselves that leads to healthy behaviours.
Practicing deep breathing exercises, I’ve found, can help “center” you again to be more aware of your body. Just focus on your breathing like you would in a yoga class, for instance, and force yourself to slow down and actually listen to what your body is telling you. If you do this often, you begin to be able to listen to your body without having to forcibly slow yourself down. You notice when your shoulders are getting tense from worry, when your stomach is starting to feel empty, and when you really need some vitamin-rich fruit over that bag of doritos. But when you look at health in terms of taking care of your entire body, it becomes more of a lifestyle and less of a battle, like most health regiments can seem, because it focuses on more than your appearance–holistic health encompasses your psychological, physical, spiritual, and emotional health, all of which are important to living a full life.
What are some healthy habits you’ve started in your twenties? Has starting healthy habits been easy, or difficult? Let me know in the comments below!
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