Choices and Habits are Your Roadmap to Health and Happiness

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Anyone can fall into an unhealthy routine. The trick is to recognize you could make better choices and then follow through. Through structuring good habits, you can reshape your lifestyle and map your own road to health and happiness. 

Take steps. Ending bad habits is challenging. Some bad habits, such as poor eating choices and a lack of exercise, can shorten your life. Other bad habits, like abusing substances or having a poor work ethic, can interfere with your quality of life in other, far-reaching ways. According to Psychology Today, the key to overcoming your unhealthy behaviors is to take these steps:

  1. You are the only one who can change your habits, so take full responsibility for the choices you are making, and commit to making new, healthier choices.
  2. Know that you can make those changes. If necessary, get professional help to change unhealthy patterns, but know you can do this.
  3. Recognize your motivations. Do some soul searching as to why you made bad choices in the first place.
  4. Don’t set the bar too high. Set achievable goals, and gradually increase your aspirations.
  5. Measure your progress and celebrate your achievements. When you experience a misstep, don’t beat yourself up for it; everyone slips at times.

Here are some tips for incorporating key healthy choices into your lifestyle:

Eating right. According to some studies, there are a handful of good habits that fit and healthy people tend to follow: 

Create a healthy norm. Those studied eat approximately the same meals each day. For instance, for lunch, they had a few different meal choices that were typical lunches, and they rarely deviated much from making those selections. The foods they choose meet the criteria of being healthy and meeting their nutritional requirements, and are foods they enjoy. 

Eat breakfast. Almost universally, those who successfully maintain a healthy lifestyle eat breakfast every day. 

Drink water. This is an important component in healthy eating. People who are fit, healthy and happy tend to drink water, and lots of it. They don’t swap out tea or colas for their water, either. They consume six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water daily and more when they exercise.

Eat frequent, small meals. When your body goes more than three hours without food, your cortisol begins to rise. Cortisol can increase belly fat and alter how your body stores what you are consuming in an unhealthy way.

Choose whole, natural foods. That means fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose these healthy foods over processed foods for your best success.

Allow indulgences. Don’t eliminate everything you love. In fact, include those foods even if they aren’t your healthiest choices, but do so in limited quantities and frequency, and don’t keep foods in the house that you tend to binge on. 

Exercising. Exercise is the other biggest component in a healthy, fit lifestyle. Some research reflects that regular exercise helps reduce your risk of many life-shortening health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, some studies show adding to your activity level may help you leave behind other unhealthy habits. Working out releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, reduces anxiety, alleviates stress, and improves your mental health. 

Create a fitness program that you enjoy and fits into your lifestyle to make exercising a healthy habit. It doesn’t need to cost much. Start by joining one class that you look forward to participating in, and get creative if you have to. For instance, if you can’t motivate yourself to make your daily yoga class, try dog yoga! These classes are sprouting up all over the country, and are a fun way to maintain your health and that of your pooch.

Then, add a few well-chosen pieces of exercise equipment to your home so you can get in a workout on other days. Inexpensive items, such as a yoga mat and some dumbbells, make an in-home workout routine convenient. Clear some floor space, and stow your equipment in a nearby drawer or closet so you can pull it out a few days each week.
Your roadmap to success. You can effectively end bad habits and engage in new behaviors. Make healthy choices, and be sure to eat right and exercise for your well-being. With these basic steps, you will be on the road to health and happiness!

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