My Journey to a Healthier Me

friends sharing healthy food around a table
Five months ago, I decided to get serious about eating healthier and exercising.

Let me tell you, it has not been an easy journey, but I can honestly say it’s been so worth it. I’ve been able to stick with it because of a change in mindset and a focus on developing healthy habits, rather than just following specific diets. I’ve also majorly benefited from learning from others who are also on the road to better health. Here are four helpful things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Form an exercise squad and get moving.

I don’t enjoy exercising. It’s painful and I have yet to experience the so-called endorphins it releases.

But I know it’s good for me, so I try to find ways to make it work. Exercising with friends is a great motivator that keeps me accountable and on track.  If you can’t muster up an entire squad, get a buddy. My buddies consist of my roommates and friends from church. At least once a week I can count on meeting a friend for a two to five mile walk at a brisk pace, and if we are feeling ambitious we may jog for 30 seconds.

I’ve also noticed that when I used to get together with friends, it was usually to eat (ice cream, frozen yogurt, Chick-fil-A — you get the picture). So now, we make a point to walk when we spend time together rather than just parking our behinds in a chair for a few hours. Every little step counts when you’re trying to become more active.

2. Get serious about eating healthy.

You don’t have to give up tasty food to eat healthy. Who knew?

In order to find healthier dishes I enjoy, I’ve had to try a lot of new foods (like quinoa and brussels sprouts). I also follow sites like Goodful, which has helped me immensely in discovering new, healthy meals. One of my favorite staples is a roasted sweet potato and apple salad.

I’m not terribly picky about eating clean, but following the suggestion of a friend of mine who is a nutritionist, I try to make sure at least two of my daily meals consist mostly of fresh vegetables and lean meats.

I also learned of healthier replacements for some of my favorite snacks. For example, homemade sweet potato fries are a great substitute for regular french fries, and flavored seltzer water has replaced soda for me.

3. Allow cheat meals.

Wait, didn’t I just say we need to get serious about eating healthy?

Some people might differ with me on this, but knowing that I will occasionally allow myself a cheeseburger makes it a lot easier to stick to my healthier meals during the week. I don’t feel deprived, and this way I don’t feel  paranoid if I indulge every now and then.

4. Eat to live, not live to eat.

I’m an emotional eater, especially when I’m bored. I had to learn to listen to my body and eat only when I was genuinely hungry. Of course, nothing is wrong with snacking, but I was “snacking” entirely too much. I ate, not because I was hungry, but because it temporarily made me happy and gave me something to do. I had to also learn to think of food as fuel instead of trying to make it my entertainment. That helped me to be mindful about what I was eating.

I hope you find these tips useful! Like I mentioned earlier, learning from others has been crucial to my attempts at leading a healthier life, so please comment below with how you’ve learned to live a healthy lifestyle.

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