Your Best You!

Your health is a moving target. Creating or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very challenging with all the latest trends, new information and constantly changing research. New articles advise what we should eat, what new diet to follow, how we should move, and what is the right amount of sleep your body needs. What doesn’t help is the term “healthy” is very subjective depending on who you follow, read, or listen to.

Here are 3 tips to help navigate your way to a healthy lifestyle:

Do your research. The are so many get fit schemes, hoards of unregulated supplements, and unsubstantiated information on the internet. Look at who is writing the information, does it come from reliable and valid source (ex: Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health, John Hopkins University). Who has funded the research? If a company could benefit from a certain outcome, dig a little deeper (ex: smoking is harmless, funded by a Tobacco company). Large-scale, longitudinal studies (following people over months and years instead of their changes in only a few weeks) funded by a third party (someone with no ties to the product or outcomes) provide more accurate and objective results.

See a professional. Be wary of all the health and wellness advice espoused digitally. Do the professionals have a degree in the area of health. Do they have advanced degrees, or do they just post their opinion without facts. Just because someone looks healthy or fit doesn’t mean they have the qualifications to help you with your challenges. Be wary of anyone who suggests taking supplements, eliminating food groups, or doing an extreme exercise plan. Medical doctors are the only professionals that can diagnose an ailment or injury. Often, people are more than willing to state what they think is wrong, but this can mean they are failing to stay within their scope of practice (at the extreme, this can be considered practicing medicine without a license). A true professional will refer you up to the next level of care instead of giving advise about a topic they are not fully educated to discuss. Before you make an extreme lifestyle change please see your doctor about your plans and goals.

Make a plan. Be selective and regimented with your lifestyle changes. You can only focus on so much at one time. Once you are working towards one goal, say eating healthier and the needed support with a weight watchers group, then work on setting your next health goal, and set a realistic timetable to get there. Maybe writing down your goals in a journal, and give yourself dates to accomplish each one. SMART goals are a tool used to help with planning. S stands for specific, make your goal very specific such as losing 5lbs in 5 weeks (not I want to lose some weight). M is for measurable. You are going to lose 1lbs per week and will weight in once a week. A is for attainable. To lose 5lbs you are going to work out twice a week, walk the dog 30 minutes everyday and stop having snacks after dinner (are these changes you are willing to make). R is for realistic. Is it realistic to lose 5lbs in 5 weeks according to healthy standards (yes)? Is working out twice a week too much (no). Could you have a reasonable dinner therefore not craving snacks afterwards (yes)? Finally T stands for timely. Are you tracking your progress everyday? Maybe journaling your food, tracking your workouts, and writing down your weight at the end of the week. Having a plan that is reasonable, measuring your goals, and monitoring your progress every week will set you up for success.

Making a change for a healthier lifestyle isn’t always easy, but if you do your research, seek out professional help and together make a plan, you will surely be on the road to success! Many times in life we want to make changes and have the best intentions, but fail to execute our ideas. A written plan, sharing that plan with people that will be supportive of your efforts, and even thinking about a reward for achieving the goal will help you accomplish your healthy lifestyle. Your health is a moving target, but with planning and a little bit of hard work, they can be goals that are moving in the right direction.

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