Healthy habits Lifestyle By Jesica Salyer / July 19, 2014 Recovering or maintaining your optimal health can be a seemingly daunting task to many. You think you’ve got to have it all together, all at once, every day. Often times, this perfectionist mentality is not only stressful, but it’s not effective because it sets you up to fail. Humans, by nature, are not perfect. Knowing that, we should perhaps strive to be balanced, not perfect. There are many simple ways to improve your health that are doable; all while maintaining a upbeat, positive, healthy mind frame. Part of balance is actively making small strides to better our health. These can be small habits or bigger tasks that we take on. Here are four ways to improve your health that you can implement into your healthy lifestyle, today, to get on the road to your best, balanced self. 1. Practice “Percentages” Don’t trade your unhealthy eating for an unhealthy mindset. In other words, as you become more diligent about eating wholesome, real, organic foods, don’t obsess. Don’t overanalyze. Don’t be neurotic. Don’t develop a a fearful relationship with food. It’s counterproductive to morph into a health eater who is on the verge of a full flegded mental disorder in regards to food. You’ve traded one problem for another. You don’t need to short fuse if what you’re eating isn’t organic, raw, gluten free, low fat and vegan. Simply make good choices 80-90 percent of the time. The other 10-20 percent of the time, let yourself go to your favorite Italian restaurant, enjoy a glass of wine, or order a pizza. Optimum health should mean that you are your most balanced self. This means letting go of perfect eating and occasionally enjoying the foods you enjoy, guilt free. This is how to get healthy and maintain your sanity. 2. Surround yourself with healthy food Hunger or the urge to snack can hit you at any time. It’s helpful to know this ahead of time and plan accordindly. Shop for and fill your pantry, refridgerator and kitchen up with healthy, nutritionally dense foods that you would be proud of eating. This way, when your hunger strikes, you are prepared and equipped to make healthful choices. When shopping for food, think whole, real foods. Aim for lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans–and if you eat meat, free range beef & chicken, cage free eggs and wild caught fish. Stay away from processed products that contain preservatives, added sugar and artificial ingredients. Buy organic as often as possible to maximize the healthy benefits of the food you eat. Local farmers markets are a fun, great way to get fantastic, organic food often times for less than big box stores. Make shopping for food a fun family experience to get your whole family involved and on board with healthy eating. On this healthy journey, it may also help you to familiarize yourself with some new, exciting recipes. Just because you want to eat healthy doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice flavor. There are plenty of online resources that can help you get acquainted with cooking foods you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and perhaps you’ll discover foods you didn’t know you liked. 3. Stop Drinking Soda Health is indeed about balance, but some foods need to be eliminated all-together, or only allowed in your 10-20% window. Soda, for example, is nutritionally stripped and loaded with sugar. This popular drink hinders your health, especially when consumed on a regular basis. Furthermore, there is a plethora of other, healthful, convenient, affordable alternatives to soda that you can consider. Kombucha fermented tea is a fantastic substitute for your daily soda habit. There are several kombucha brands that have created an organic, raw beverage that you can find in your local health food store. Kombucha is a healthy elixir that aids digestions, encourages detoxification and leaves you feeling satiated via it’s naturally effervescent nature. Keep in mind, diet soda is perhaps much worse than your typical sugar-sweetened soda. The negative effects of artificial sweeteners are endless. As scary as that sounds, you don’t have to get overly caught up in how ‘this and that’ are bad for you. Just take them out of the equation and you’ve solves the problem. Shift your focus towards the good stuff. Choose good food. Support good brands who are creating organic, healthy foods. Make it a positive transition that you feel great about. 4. Start Lifting Weights You’ve likely heard it a million times that lifting weights is good for you. But, what does this really mean? How, precisely, is it good for you? Does it make me morph into a inflated-looking bodybuilder? Does it make it develop a six pack? Does it make women appear more masculine? The reality is that lifting weights and doing resistance training provides real, palpable benefits for individuals of all ages, male or female. To clarify, resistance training (loosely referred to here as lifting weights) encompasses many disciplines or exercise beyond just dumbbells and barbells. Resistance training can simply mean using your own body weight to do squats, doing rapid body weight movements called plyometrics, using the resistance of water in a pool, or using the range of weight machines or free weights at the gym. Pick a discipline that feels right for you. You want it to be challenging, but not infringing on your safety. The physical results that you can notice in the mirror will likely take a minimum of 4 weeks to see a significant difference. However, you will feel the results right away. Initially, it may be muscles tightness, fatigue and soreness. But before long, you will feel stronger, more confident, more empowered. Regular resistance training offers a laundry list of benefits that include: Improved muscle tone and endurance Increased lean muscle mass (not bulky–unless you are consuming a large amount of calories, including protein) Control of depression and chronic illnesses like heart disease and back pain Improved self-esteem, confidence and overall sense of well being Better, more fulfilled sleep pattern In conclusion If you’re looking for how to get healthy, try making these four simple changes in your life. You may experience immediately positive results including an elevation in energy and increased motivation. Embrace the experience as a beautiful and rewarding challenge. Running on organic fuel and implementing a fitness routine complete with resistance training will do a lot for your body’s health. Better yet, you will be developing healthy habits that will stick with you as you get older.