Tips For Someone Who Wants To Start A Healthy Lifestyle But Doesn't Know Where To Begin

It’s that time of year folks, new year and a new semester. SO many people go into January with big plans on changing up their eating habits and to start working out. However more often than not just starting is half the battle. 

I get it, with everything that students have to balance between classes, studying, work,ECs etc. sometimes the last thing you want to do is also fit in a good workout and cook good meals. But we all know that having a consistent fitness routine and eating more consciously comes with endless benefits(key word being consistent).

1. Set a date

Probably the most important thing in this journey is setting a date you want to start and making a plan based on that start date. Plan to start not tomorrow or the day after that but actually a week from now. This will give you time to sit down, do some research, prepare everything(more on that later) and allow you to slowly adjust to the idea of welcoming a new routine.

2. Set your intentions

Setting your intentions is so important. I am sure you have heard this plenty of times but it is always worth reiterating, take some time and make a list of tangible intentions because setting your WHY is what will keep you motivated, and keep you going for the long run. Whatever it may be just set at least one intention and always keep them in mind. Keep in mind the more specific your intentions are the easier it is for you to work towards them. Sure you can say something like “I want to be healthier”, but that is a broad, generic and quite frankly a very obvious statement. Try to dig deeper, WHY do you want to be healthier? Why do you want to wake up every morning and go for a run? What do you hope to get out of this new lifestyle and what are you hoping to see in terms of an outcome? It doesn’t even have to be something serious it can be something as silly as “being able to run really fast when the apocalypse comes”. If you have watched any apocalyptic movie then you know that there is often a scene where the main character needs to run for their life from some danger, so if your intention for running is to be able to run for your life during the apocalypse then that’s great! Keep that in mind and when your running always imagine your running away from some zombie or monstrous creature, whatever gets you going!

3. Prepare meals

Preparation is key! Remember when I said set your start date at least one week from now? That is to allow you some time to prepare and get yourself ready and loaded for that start date. The first thing I suggest doing is researching a few recipes that you would want to try out, see what looks good to you and plan out at least 1-2 weeks of meals preferably a month full of recipes but do what feels best for you and what will not overwhelm you. If your looking for some ideas check out this previous post where I rounded up some of my favourite Canadian women who are part of the healthy food community, I am sure you will find something that will interest you. Next prepare a grocery list, once you have all of your meals planned out and in mind make a list of exactly what you need. Tip: try to find recipes with similar ingredients or ones that are flexible in which you can use whatever you have on hand, this allows you to save on the amount of produce you buy. Love and Lemons is a great food blog for this, when you click on the Recipes tab, you can search recipes by ingredients. Once you have your fresh produce, before putting everything away do a purge of your fridge and pantry/cupboards of any foods that you do not need, remember to donate any non perishable items you end up collecting.

4. Plan your workouts

Once you have your meals in mind and fridge and pantry/cupboards stocked with good for you foods the next thing to prepare is your workouts. First and foremost, do what works for you and do what you love. If you are not a morning person, do not plan to work out in the morning, you are not doing yourself any favours. If you hate running do not plan to run at all, try to find another form of cardio that you will enjoy more and would much rather do. If you are not able to go to the gym or would rather start working out at home instead then you do that! Everyone is different, do not look at what others are doing, do what you feel is best for yourself, this is your journey after all. So, figure out what time of day you want to workout and set some form of a plan as to what you will be doing during these workouts. Find routines/workout videos that you would want to follow, there is nothing worse than getting dressed and are ready to start working out and having to waste time thinking of what you want to do, it’s just a waste of your time. If you have no idea where to start then challenges can be great they are not only motivating to complete but they also tend to have the routines already planned out so it takes out all the guess work for you. Tip: when looking for a challenge, find one that suits your level, if you are just starting out, go for a beginner level challenge because something more difficult than that may be too hard and discouraging if you are struggling too much to make it through a routine. SELF magazine has a ton of challenges that you can follow, right now they have this New Year’s Challenge (it is free btw), but again there are so many challenges out there, search for what suits you. 

5. Create an accountability system

Whether it is a friend that will be joining you so you can hold each other accountable, or some form of a reward system where if you are consistent with your workouts and are making better choices when eating for x amount of time you will treat yourself to something that you otherwise would not. Whatever it may be, create a system that will help you stay on track. A few other suggestions is tracking your workouts on an app or in your planner/journal, or writing out in your journal everyday not only what you ate and what you did for a workout but also how you are feeling that day and your mood. Writing in your mood or feeling everyday, even if it just a word or a small sentence, in a journal allows you to see at the end your progress and you may see a shift in your mentality and mood between the start and a few days in even.

Remember: take it day by day and one step at a time, if you have an off day that is okay, just keep moving forward. Be proud of each and every day in which you at least TRIED to make healthier decisions.