Browse any newsstand and you’ll encounter tons of advice on how to be ‘healthy.’ Keto. 3 Day Detox. 6 minute abs. The latest superfood or magic spice (hello turmeric).
While all of this advice and information can seem complicated and overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be.
Through my years of coaching and exploring for myself what it means to be healthy, I’ve learned that you can pretty much group every healthy activity into one of five categories: nutrition, movement, recovery, mindfulness, and play.
From there I developed five principles that turn the categories into actions.
Here is the one simple sentence for healthy living.
Eat real foods, move your body, recover smart, stay mindful, and have fun.
Simple, but not easy. Here’s how each principle looks in action.
Eat Real Foods
When it comes to eating, simpler is better.
Buy and eat real foods. Veggies, fruits, meats, nuts, seeds, starches, grains. Stick to the outside-perimeter of the store. Avoid processed ‘foodstuff,’ like boxed food and frozen dinners.
Variety is important. Quality matters. As Michael Pollan says, “You are what you eat eats.”
Buy the best quality you can afford. Look for labels like organic, antibiotic and hormone free, grass fed, pasture raised.
If you want to be vegan, great. If you want to do Paleo, great. The same principles still apply. Don’t follow a junk food version of those diets.
Move Your Body
You’ve got to move. Moving with some intensity is even better.
If you’re starting at zero (the couch), start slow. Go for a walk. Go a little bit further, move a little bit faster each day.
Lift weights. Get your heart rate up. Learn new movements.
But remember the bigger picture. Don’t just workout, train for something. A favorite activity like hiking, biking, sailing, etc. A race. Being able to keep up with your kids. Being independent as you age.
Training days need to be balanced with rest. Recovery days are when our body actually gets stronger, better, faster.
Focus on mobility and body maintenance. Stretch, foam roll, improve your range of motion.
Most importantly, the biggest daily recovery habit that we do is what we spend a third of our lives doing: sleep.
It’s not just about getting enough sleep, but getting enough quality sleep. Keep a consistent bedtime. Avoid screens in the bedroom. Keep it dark and cool. Wake up at the same time each day, even weekends.
Are you here in the moment, or is your mind elsewhere? Can you be ok being bored, or do you need to escape via your phone and social media?
Hit pause. Be present. Try meditating and breathing exercises.
Keep a journal. Explore your thoughts. Know thyself.
Take a step back to look at the bigger picture. The whole point of being healthy is so we have the energy and ability to do the things we love in life.
So have fun. And have fun with other people. Protect and strengthen your friendships and relationships.
Enjoy new experiences. Make an effort to get out of your comfort zone. Go on adventures.
Explore new territory.