“I feel fit and healthy.” When was the last time you said that and actually meant it?

No matter how many new year’s resolutions we make concerning our health, we just cannot seem to get it together. We all have good intentions on keeping fit and eating right but unfortunately, unless we make a plan and stick with it, life and all of its “business” tends to get in the way. So I like to take a gut check every few months.

For me, a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit is the ultimate feeling of well-being. Each and every step I take today will result in a stronger, healthier, “me” for years to come.

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Runner athlete running on forest trail. woman fitness jogging workout wellness concept.

Living a healthier life is just within our reach, all we have to do is educate ourselves on the steps we need to take now that will pave our way for a healthier living tomorrow. Here are some tips to get us started on the well-being trail of life:

First things first – Evaluate your health and where you currently stand. This is the “preparation” stage and may require a little work. In order to move forward on the health track, we need to find out where we stand right now. Make appointments with your doctors and dentist for a complete check-up. Make sure all immunizations are up to date. Write down all questions you may have for the doctors and bring this and your current medications list with you.

Evaluate your physical activity. Be honest with yourself. How much physical activity do you get weekly? Is it working for you? What about the food you eat? Try and keep a food journal for a few days so you can get a good look at the kind of food and beverages you are actually consuming.

How about your energy? Are you sleeping enough? How has your mood been? Do you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed? Take a look at your connections with family and friends. Are they strong, supportive connections? Do your spiritual and/or social groups enrich your life?

Taking a good look at yourself and how you are today is a major step in setting goals towards your health and well-being. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and be honest. This is the time to do it.

Secondly, take a look at your habits. Whether it is smoking, alcohol, drug, or any other kind of addiction, now is the time to partner with your doctor and discuss treatment options. Chronic health issues, like heart disease, depression, or diabetes, that you may currently be dealing with, also requires a call to your doctor. Remember, educating yourself on where you stand today will bring you one step closer to what you can handle in the future.

Next, move it! Get physical but make it fun! Take a two mile walk every morning or evening. Go for a hike or bike ride. Take a cycling, swimming, or yoga class. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it keeps your interest so you don’t give up. Schedule exercise days on your calendar so you remember how important this is to your final goal of wellness. Set weekly goals that you know you can keep. Make exercising more fun by bringing along a buddy, creating your own routines, or trying to beat your own goal of “most steps walked per day” (hint: 10,000 steps is recommended each day).

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Since you added physical fitness to your life, the next step is to upgrade your diet. In other words, be aware of what you are eating and make the right choices of what to eat. Take the “should” out of your vocabulary and replace it with “choose.” “I choose to eat more fruits and vegetables,” sounds much more positive than “I should eat more fruits and vegetables.” Keep the guilt out of the kitchen by stocking the cabinets with healthy food, snacks, and beverages. While eating, sit down and enjoy your meals. Hold off on the multitasking until after you eat. Relaxing and enjoying your meals helps you feel satisfied. Try and incorporate a rainbow of fruits and veggies into your daily meals (5 servings or more is a good number to start with).

Learn how to handle stress. For long-term stress, know where your baseline stress level is and develop coping skills to keep that baseline level in check. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and deep breathing exercises can help. When dealing with a stressful situation that has come up without warning, take a step back from the situation, re-group by practicing deep breathing techniques, and if needed, take a short walk. Re-gain and focus by asking yourself why you feel so worked up.

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Sleep longer and better. Sleep time is when the body heals itself. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated beverages close to bedtime. Also avoid vigorous activity close to your bedtime. Chamomile tea and a hot bath will help “mentally” relax those that have trouble sleeping. Skip napping during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night. Sleep time is just as important as diet and exercise.

Include some brain teasers into your life and challenge your mind. Watch game shows on television, play board games with friends and family, or try and complete a daily crossword puzzle. The more mentally stimulating activities you do can reduce your likeliness of developing dementia.

Remember the road to wellness begins with the choices you make in your life.