8 Pillars Of The Fitness Lifestyle For A Healthy Body
Your lifestyle can positively (or negatively) impact your level of fitness and health. When you sleep properly, learn how to manage stress and cut back on the unhealthy habits that make up your current lifestyle, you begin to feel better … healthier, stronger and fitter. And others notice as well.
You experience healthy energy levels all day. Your confident manner and newly fit body draw complements which further reinforce that what you are doing is working in a marvelously positive way. Reaping all the rewards offered by a fit and health-filled lifestyle also means motivating yourself and developing a healthy mindset.
You need to add exercise and movement into your daily schedule. It also makes sense to drink a lot of water, develop healthy eating habits, and understand the proper influence of socializing with other positive individuals like yourself.
This report can help you do all of these things, with the ultimate reward a healthy, happy and fit new you that is in charge of every aspect of your life.
There are 8 pillars to this new healthy lifestyle, but remember that you don’t need to change everything at once. Simply read through, and start adopting lifestyle shifts gradually, until they become habits.
Ready to get started?
Pillar 1: Sleep (and 7 Ways to Make Sure You Get Enough of It)
Small, smart lifestyle changes can add up to big health benefits. You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and all that. Another great thing about small changes is that they are easy to make. If you make just one small change a day, you can enjoy an entirely new and amazing life and incredible health at the end of one short year … 365 transformative changes later.
Rest is one area where many of us are deficient, yet it is the foundation for everything else we do to improve our health.
Adults should get between 7 and 8 hours of restful sleep every night. But most people in today’s fast paced, fast food, plugged-in society do not sleep properly. These 7 simple sleep-improving steps will put you on a quick path to better fitness, more energy and a healthier lifestyle. Putting them into play just one a day means one short week to the benefits of proper sleep.
1 – Limit Your Intake of Sleep-Affecting Chemicals
For 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine and nicotine found in coffee, chocolate, tea, sodas, cigarettes and some medicines. You will just get jacked up, find it hard to rest, sleep restlessly, and then be tired when you have to awaken.
You might think alcohol can help you sleep. But only a couple of hours after drinking, alcohol actually stimulates you. This means you may fall asleep, and then sleep poorly. There are other dangers of drinking, and limiting your alcoholic intake to 1 or 2 drinks per day makes sense for a lot of reasons.
2 – Drink Lots of Water, but Not Much at Night
Water flushes your system of dangerous toxins and other chemical poisons. But you need to limit its “heading to the bathroom” effect at night. Beginning a couple of hours before you are scheduled to nod off, limit (or even eliminate) your water and liquid intake. You will experience fewer “gotta go” sleep disruptions.
3 – Develop a Regular Sleep Schedule
Your body and mind combine to make a perfectly programmable, goal-seeking creation. After you tell your mind what your body is going to do on a set schedule, in a very short time, your brain takes over and creates an automatic, unconscious habit.
Better quality sleep, more day time energy and a better level of fitness are delivered with a regular sleep schedule. And it only takes 3 to 4 weeks of sticking very closely to a specific waking and sleeping routine for your restful sleep to be automatically delivered on a nightly basis.
4 – Enjoy a Nap Earlier in the Day If Need Be
Napping is a healthy way to promote a properly operating metabolism and natural energy throughout the day. Just make sure you do not take a nap after 5 PM, or your sleep could suffer. You may find it hard to fall asleep when you nap later in the day, and accordingly, difficult to wake up at the appointed time.
5 – Shine the Light
Sunlight taught primitive humans when they should be sleeping, and when they should be active. Then humans learned how to create their own light. Artificial light is certainly a powerful and wonderful invention. But it can negatively affect your natural, healthy sleep cycle.
So use it properly. As soon as you wake up, illuminate your surroundings. And when you are ready to go to sleep, limit the number of lights, including electronic displays, in your sleep environment.
6 – Exercise Early in the Day
Exercise produces cortisol. This hormone keeps you alert and responsive, and is part of our hardwired “fight or flight” response system which also causes stress. Exercise actually supports good sleep patterns, and ongoing energy throughout the day. Just do not exercise late in the evening, or your elevated energy level could negatively affect the quality of your sleep.
7 – Give It Time
You did not fall into poor sleep habits overnight. It will take time to change your bad habits into good ones. So do not criticize yourself if making these changes takes a little while. All good things come to those who wait, and take proper action. Keep working at these 7 simple steps for improving the quality of your sleep, and your overall health will benefit.
Would you like another way to improve your fitness and natural energy level? Learning to control stress can make a huge impact.
Pillar 2: Learning to Manage Stress
Stress can be … stressful. And so can modern life. There are those health professionals that believe that stress can be the most dangerous poison in your life. That is because stressful situations can cause a lack of control, an increased risk of contracting lung diseases, heart problems and cancers, and even death if prolonged stress is a frequent visitor to your life.
Fortunately, you can regain control over the impact of stress on your health. Keep the 5 following thoughts in mind when stress rears its ugly head, and an energy-filled, fit and healthy life can be yours.
Recognizing the Causes of Stress in Your Life
Instead of instantly becoming defensive, take some time to decide where the stress came from. In many instances, you will find that your stress continually arises from a common factor or influence. You can then take the proper action to relieve your anxiety. (Remember to be honest here. It is tough sometimes to admit that we make our own stress appear out of our conscious actions.)
Stress can also often come from unhealthy habits, poor dietary choices and a lack of physical activity. See the later chapters in this book for details on how to manage those areas.
Learning Not to Worry
Knowing what you do and do not have control over, and acting accordingly, can instantly remove a lot of stress from your life. Stress is an energy snapper, and can even cause multiple health problems.
So when you remember and recite your own calmness statements you give yourself a better chance of experiencing high levels of fitness and daily energy.
You do not have to believe in God or a higher power to benefit from this thoughtful poem. Just understand that there are things you can change, things you cannot, and then strive to learn which are which.
Separate Caring from Worrying
Are you always worrying? Are you one of those people who says that you just “care too much”? Worrying is not productive. It creates high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Identifying a problem is always a positive measure. But worrying over it if you cannot take any action to alleviate it means you are manufacturing your own stress.
Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune wrote the book “The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy”. He explains that worrying is simply a futile effort to control the future, something no one can do. Caring is admirable, worrying is futile. Stop worrying.
Practice Smart Time Management
Sometimes stress is a byproduct of an incredibly hectic and busy schedule. When you manage your time efficiently, you practice control over your life. Stress is usually marked by a lack of control.
Purchase a day planner, or some time management software, and turn your busy, time-limited lifestyle into a well-managed daily action plan. If you are part of a busy family, get everyone involved in creating a family plan that everyone can benefit from.
Understand That Mistakes Are Okay
You are human. That means you will make mistakes. Lots of them. When you are young, when you are middle-aged and when you are old. Get used to it. Mistakes are okay, and a normal part of human growth. The key is in not repeating the same mistakes, and learning from your failures.
The good news is that the other changes you are making in your life as part of the Total Fitness Lifestyle Shift will also have a positive impact on your stress levels.
Getting more sleep, quitting unhealthy habits, changing your mindset, exercising and eating right will do wonders for your mental health… so keep reading!
Pillar 3: Eliminating Unhealthy Habits
At worst, your bad habits might be killing you. At least, they are causing you stress. As you know from our previous discussion, stress can cause a physiological process inside you that leads to a long list of health problems. Stress saps your energy, and has an amazing ability to compound itself. Once you find yourself in a stressful situation, you seem to be more prone to other causes of stress.
Fit people are more likely to live longer, suffer fewer diseases, have fuller lives and are usually more successful than their out of shape peers. So it just makes sense to kick bad health habits to the curb.
One way to minimize the negative effects of “bad” habits in your life is to eliminate some unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. If you smoke, stress can be caused by the impact your smoking has on your relationships, and your health. Turning to sugar and processed foods for a quick energy boost can make sleep difficult, causing you to be tired during the day, performing your work poorly. That can definitely create a physically unfit situation in your life.
But there is good news. When you slowly regain control over your health by eliminating bad habits and behaviors, you suffer better levels of fitness and enjoy natural, “all day long” energy.
One bad habit that infrequently is identified as such is fostering unhealthy relationships. You do not have to totally eliminate contact with friends and family members that are drama queens, constantly causing stress in your life. But you can minimize the time you spend with these people.
If you suffer from the effects of poor nutrition in your diet, this is a bad habit you should change immediately – but gradually (make too many changes, too soon, and you might find it hard).
Yes, we know. Sugary foods, fried, fatty and processed food products taste incredible. But they are extremely unhealthy.
Food manufacturers add addictive chemicals intentionally, so you will become hooked on their offerings. Start slow, replacing one unhealthy processed meal a day with a plant-based, vegetable and fruit filled dish. This can slowly curb your addiction to sugar, salt and the other unhealthy chemicals found in most all processed foods. See the later chapter for more information on making healthy dietary changes.
Speaking of intentionally addicting you to unhealthy chemicals, alcohol and tobacco manufacturers are guilty of this as well. No one needs to tell you how dangerous, and possibly deadly, prolonged abuse of alcohol, cigarettes and cigars can be. By causing a laundry list of health problems, they can be extremely stressful to you, even negatively affecting your family, friends and career.
Caffeine is not inherently bad for you. A cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of tea during the day is fine. Those beverages have actually been shown to deliver health benefits. But when you overdo coffee or tea, you can become jittery. Your work and personal relationships can suffer. You can even make emotional and physical mistakes because you are jacked up on caffeine. More than 1or 2 cups a day of coffee or tea is too much (1 cup is 8 ounces, not your 55 gallon drum-sized coffee mug).
Overworking can be a bad habit as well. Dedication to your job is commendable, and is even an important survival tactic in many cases. When you make enough money from your job, you can take proper care of yourself and your family. But if you spend too much time at work, your diet and sleep can suffer, with stress and poor health often along for the ride.
When you are honest with yourself, you can identify the bad habits that are causing you to be unfit, tired, low on energy and unhealthy. Take it slow, and work on curing yourself of one bad habit at a time. The poor health that accompanies your negative behaviors will begin to disappear, with your fitness and energy levels improving as a positive byproduct.
Pillar 4: Learning to Fit Physical Activity Into Your Life
Put very simply, you absolutely must exercise if you are going to be healthy. A fit, happy, healthy lifestyle benefits from consistent movement and moderate to intense physical activity. This does not mean you have to start weightlifting, running and playing sports for hours every day.
The American Heart Association, and other respected fitness and health institutions around the world, recommend 1.5 to 2.5 hours of moderately intense physical activity every week as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Other research has shown that when you exceed 4 or 5 hours of exercise weekly, you actually begin to do more harm than good.
So aim for 2 to 4 hours of walking, jogging, bike riding, hiking, swimming, practicing yoga, Pilates or bodyweight training each and every week.
How to Find Time to Exercise
What is that you say? You do not have enough time to fit regular physical activity into your weekly routine? Guess what? If you want to look and feel healthy, live a long life with minimal health problems, and enjoy the many rewards that optimal health offers, working out, exercising and staying active is a “must-have” component. So you will have to find the time.
Making a place in your weekly schedule for physical exertion really is not as hard as it may appear at first glance. Sit down and write out your entire week’s worth of activities. Fitting in just 30 minutes of exercise 4 or 5 days a week shouldn’t be that hard.
Just remember to alternate muscle groups from one day to the next. Never work the same muscles on back-to-back days. Make sure you drink lots of water, and get plenty of sleep. Then the rest is up to you, finding “holes” in your schedule to work out, exercise or just stay physically active.
Remember, a couple of 15-minute sessions of exercise equals the rewards of a single 30 minute session. If you have a long lunch break, 10 to 30 minutes of it can be devoted to physical activity. Or you can simply wake up 30 minutes earlier 3 or 4 days a week to get your daily routine started in a healthy manner.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is all about choice. When you prioritize exercising, working out and staying physically active as something that is important to you, you make a voluntary choice to be healthy. If you convince yourself that there is no possible way you can squeeze a couple of hours out of the 168 that you are allotted each week to enjoy a healthier, fitter, fuller lifestyle, that is the reality that you choose.
But that also means choosing the health problems, low self-esteem, anxiety and stress that accompany an inactive lifestyle. Make physical activity a high priority in your life. Added with the other fit and healthy lifestyle recommendations in this report, finding time to stay physically active in your busy life can pay huge, positive dividends.
Pillar 5: Slowly Changing Poor Eating Habits
You know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is extremely healthy. Processed foods are not good for you, and a predominantly plant-based diet can quickly turn your health in a positive direction. So there is a question begging to be answered…
Why Aren’t You Eating Right?
The answer is quite simple – it is very easy to eat “bad” foods as opposed to healthy ones. In many cases, processed, fatty and sugar-filled foods are more readily available than vegetables, fruits and whole foods. Everywhere you turn fast foods are staring you in the face, they are inexpensive, easy to lay your hands on and sink your teeth into, they taste great and are socially acceptable.
That is why it might be tough for you to change your unhealthy eating habits. The answer to successfully maintaining a diet high in nutrition and low in dangerous and even deadly chemicals and additives can be found in a simple joke:
Question – “How do you eat an elephant? “
Answer – “One bite at a time.”
You can accomplish big things with small, consistent efforts. If you wanted to, you truly could eat an elephant (or any other huge amount of food) by simply taking one small bite at a time. That is the mindset that you will need to establish to turn your fitness around by enjoying smart eating habits.
Begin by replacing one unhealthy meal with a healthy one 4 or 5 times a week. In a couple of weeks, replace one “bad” meal each day. After a month, replace fatty, sugary food snacks with plant-based alternatives. After a couple of months, you should be able to enjoy 2 or 3 healthy meals and a few snacks each and every day.
What constitutes a healthy meal? A nutritious meal contains roughly 20% to 30% healthy fats, 20% to 30% protein and 40% to 60% carbohydrates.
Focus on complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and whole grain bread, rather than simple, unhealthy carbs like white rice and bread.
Lean proteins like chicken and fish are healthier than red meat, and healthy fats include coconut, canola and olive oil, and the fats found in fish, nuts, eggs and avocados.
Just remember, you will be more successful in adopting a healthy diet if you take small, consistent steps. Start off slow, build on your progress, and your health and fitness will take a healthy turn in the right direction when you begin eating right.
Pillar 6: Drinking More Water
You are not drinking enough water. How much water do you drink every day? Are you drinking the right amount of water each day? You have no doubt run across these statements and questions regarding your level of physical fitness. It seems it is common knowledge that most human beings do not drink enough water on a daily basis to maintain a healthy level of fitness.
So if everyone knows we should drink more water, why aren’t we? For you to successfully drink the right amount of water each and every day, you need to know how water impacts your health.
How Does Drinking More Water Affect Your Fitness and Health?
Human beings are at least 60% water. So maintaining the appropriate level of H2O in your body is extremely important. When you understand the correlation of water consumption and a healthy body, you will find it easier to drink your way to a healthy lifestyle.
Simply sipping water is no magic bullet to proper health. But the benefits of drinking the proper amount of water each day are many. When you drink an 8 ounce glass of water 8 times a day (about a half gallon, or 2 liters), you enjoy the following health benefits:
• A properly regulated metabolism
• You burn calories more effectively
• You make your muscles strong and healthy
• Proper hydration promotes healthy, strong, young looking skin
• You consistently flush toxins and other poisons out of your body
• Your digestive system is regulated, as is your natural body weight
• You run a lower risk of developing cancer
• It is easier to lose weight
• You suffer less joint aches and pains
• You have fewer headaches
If the thought of drinking 64 ounces of water each day does not excite you, remember the above health benefits that a properly hydrated body delivers. Would you like to know a healthy trick that practically guarantees you get enough water into your body on daily basis? Eat more fruits and vegetables. They naturally contain high levels of water, and offer other high nutrition benefits as well.
Pillar 7: Socializing with Others and Spending Your Time on Activities That Fulfill You
Depending on the dictionary you consult, you will encounter different definitions of the word “lifestyle”. Basically, lifestyle is defined as the way in which a person or group lives. Your particular way of living is mirrored in who you spend time with, and what type of activities you participate in.
Take a look at the people you voluntarily socialize with. There is an old saying that your income level is roughly the average of the income levels of the 5 people you hang around with most frequently. The same can be said for your fitness level. “Birds of a feather” and all that.
When you look at it logically, it makes sense. If you are socializing with people who enjoy drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking and exercising little, it is going to be tough for you to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. On the other hand, if most of your free time is spent with active people who practice good nutrition, it will be easier for you to enjoy a healthy way of life.
Human beings are naturally social. So you are going to get the urge to “herd” from time to time. Ensure that your social activities are centered around healthy habits.
Spend your time with people who have achieved the fitness level you desire. Find a “healthy lifestyle” mentor to help guide your efforts. Take time to join charitable or otherwise spiritually uplifting and fulfilling groups that reward you with good feelings.
These are all simple steps that can help guarantee you are successful in creating and maintaining your new healthy and happy lifestyle, full of fitness and physical as well as mental rewards.
Pillar 8: Changing Towards a Healthy Mindset / Motivating Yourself
Your mindset is comprised of what you think to be true, and what you think to be false. So when you realize that exercise, a healthy diet, drinking lots of water and getting proper rest is beneficial to you in so many ways, you start to act accordingly.
You incorporate exercise into your life on a weekly basis. You drink lots of water and get plenty of rest. You begin to eliminate bad habits that you have developed. All these are small steps which create your entire mindset about physical fitness and health.
So, exactly how do you change your mindset towards a healthy way of thinking? How do you keep yourself motivated when you do not feel like practicing a healthy lifestyle? The answer is simple – put systems in place that automatically “get your mind right” when you need to develop (or reestablish) a healthy mindset.
First, set realistic actions and goals for leading a healthy lifestyle. If you eat nothing but fast, fatty and processed foods right now, do not expect to start eating nothing but vegetables and fruits overnight. A healthy mindset is easier to maintain if the actions you expect of yourself are reasonable and attainable.
Secondly, acknowledge that slipping is normal. It is almost impossible to always keep mentally focused on any one thing. In 1957, advertising vice president of General Foods Edwin Ebel revealed that a typical person is exposed to 1,518 advertisements each day. That was roughly 50 years ago. Imagine what that number is today. It is easy, and natural, to lose focus. Acknowledge that.
Third, motivate yourself daily. You probably have a very hectic lifestyle, like most people. But setting aside 2 or 3 minutes each morning to remind yourself how your ultimately healthy lifestyle can pay huge benefits. Picture the “new you” that proper nutrition and exercise can deliver. Imagine the mental, emotional, physical and monetary rewards that your new strong, healthy, energy-filled body and mind can deliver. Visualize your new body, and how happy, successful and content you will be when you adopt a healthy lifestyle, and you may find the achievement of those dreams easier than you ever thought possible.
Finally, track your efforts and reward important milestones. If developing a healthy lifestyle is all about sacrifice, no one would ever succeed in achieving it. Reward yourself in some way when you make significant progress in becoming fit and healthy. This can be as simple as a mental “pat on the back”, or a treat of some “guilty pleasure” food.
Developing and maintaining a healthy mindset can be tough. That is why you should motivate yourself frequently, reward your hard efforts, and set challenging but reasonable expectations.
Whenever you find yourself drifting away from your new healthy, fit lifestyle, keep referring back to this 4-step process. It isn’t going to be easy, but it really is possible. Good luck!