Healthy living is more than just a meal plan and a planned exercise routine.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a state of mind. It’s so much more than just healthy eating and regular exercise! It’s a conscious effort to live a life that keeps you in optimal physical, mental and emotional health.
I interviewed a number of people who I feel embody a healthy lifestyle and took a closer look at their weekly habits. They share more than just what they eat and how they move their bodies. They discuss their outlets, how they feel fulfilled, how they balance priorities and much more!
Letting Go of Perfection
Perfectionism is common among the community of people I tend to surround myself with – I have these tendencies as well. Perfectionism can be a blessing but also a curse. How do you let of of perfectionism? A few contributors share.
My meal prepping friend Talia Koren shows compassion to herself. She states “If you are not following your healthy eating or workout regime to a T, love yourself anyway instead of trying to make up for it or punish yourself. You’re a human and life can’t be perfect all of the time.” Life is a lot better when you let the idea of a perfect week go anyway!
Shahzadi Devje also works to let go of worries. She acknowledges the worry-culture we live in and how this can make us vulnerable to negative thinking and low self-belief, which affects our health – physically and mentally. She states “For me, counting my blessings helps me to reframe the situation and propels me into action. It may sound like a cliche, but being mindful of all that I have, rather than obsessing about what I want to acquire or achieve brings me tonnes of happiness and peace.” She states that she tries to practice this several times a week, particularly in the face of adversity and set-backs.
Putting Energy Into an Outlet
Other than physical activity and healthy eating, the consensus among the contributors was that they needed to put their energy into other outlets as well.
Elizabeth Ward really loves to laugh. She watches something on TV or Netflix that really makes her laugh every day. Laughing reduces tension and it takes her (active) mind off of her work. She states that she’s a big fan of well-written, clever shows or movies the best.
My artistic friend Michelle Jaelin discusses how her creativity is actually a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. “When you put effort into being more creative, the ability to think outside the box will come more naturally.” A tip she shares is to get doodling! Grab a blank piece of paper and pencil and start drawing lines and circles. Do not force it to look like something. Let your imagination run free and have fun with it!
Scheduling Time Away From Work
My good friend Andrea D’ambrosio ensures that she plans a “free day” once a week for down-time. Elizabeth also choses to take Sundays off. Elizabeth works for herself, which means she could work every day of the week. She tells me “I rarely work on Sundays, and I do not go workout, so I am able to sleep in late. That’s not to say I’m not active, as I don’t like to sit around. I take the dog for a longer walk, concentrate on a household project when the weather is bad, or use the day to do something fun and relaxing with my family. ” It’s great to see these busy, hardworking ladies prioritize a day of downtime a week.
A few of the other contributors have specific activities that they like to do during their downtime.
My fellow plant-based RD Pamela Fergusson starts each day with a few sun salutations. She states “It is a moment of mindfulness and movement in an otherwise hectic morning.”
My friend Andrea Miller loves to spend time in nature. She tells me that there is a great hiking trail near my house, where her and her dog frequently walk. “The trail is minutes from my home, but it feels like a totally different place- it is quiet, full of birds, animals (rabbits, the occasional deer, and chipmunks), flowers and a creek for my dog to swim in.” She tells me that it’s a lovely break in routine and a great way to get a bit of exercise and fresh air.
Michelle tells me that as much as she values social time for her mental health, solitude can also brings her a ton of benefits, such as increased productivity, creativity and reflexivity. She shares recommends to schedule time at least once per week for alone time without distractions from electronic devices, social media or interruptions from kids or family. Use this time to write, reflect or simply enjoy time alone. Take this time to re-charge for the week ahead!
A number of the contributors recognize that giving back to a community brings them fulfillment.
Shahzadi enjoys being generous with her time and knowledge, as it energizes her and reminds me of a higher purpose. “Weekly acts of giving back and not expecting anything in return enables me to evoke a sense of gratitude and connects me with others.” She explains that this helps to shift the focus away from “me” towards the “other.”
I could not agree with Shahzadi more! Giving to others brings a sense of satisfaction that can’t be felt from our individual accomplishments.
Elizabeth shares that she enjoys fostering a community of friendship. She states that she aims to get together with friends at least once a week, which is easier to do now than when her children were younger. She states “Friends are my support system, and spending time with them is relaxing and fun. I’m sure it lowers my blood pressure!”
Prioritizing Physical Activity
It probably won’t surprise you the my healthy contributors prioritize physical activity! However, the exercise they enjoy doesn’t always involve hitting the gym. In additional to the physical benefits of exercise, they are also drawn to the improvements in mood, productivity and flexibility that comes with the movement.
My buddy Andy De Santis shares that he’s done yoga once a week for the past 10+ years. He states “There is such an emphasis on high intensity activity ( such as weight lifting, sports etc) and while that comprises most of what I do, I’ve always always always made time for yoga.” He explains that it has helped him maintain some semblance of flexibility while keeping him injury free. I swear by yoga once a week and would not trade it for anything.
Andrea Miller protects her physical activity time! She schedules her exercise times into my calendar before everything else. She explains that she schedules all other appointments and activities around my exercise. Andrea D’ambrosio also makes time for regular exercise, and uses it as a means to increasing productivity and boosting her mood.
Healthy Eating (But Also Enjoying Indulgences!)
In order to make healthy eating work for her busy lifestyle, Andrea D’ambrosio aims to have convenient, healthy meal options available. For example, she packs snacks for between clients, batch-cooking for easy re-heat meal options or stocking up on basics for times where groceries are running low.
Andy stays true to his dietitian routes and religiously eats at least one green ( ie: kale) and one colourful ( ie: a bell pepper) veggie almost every single day. “Vegetables are indisputably the most important foods in the human diet so I get them in at all costs. Even if I go out for dinner, I will come home and eat kale… as funny as that sounds.” Go Andy!
Every though us dietitians have healthy eating down to a T, we also have fun with eating! Andrea Miller enjoy dark chocolate– I love chocolate and it is a rare day that I do not enjoy some. I eat it in small portions, plan it into my day so I look forward to it and I eat it mindfully, enjoying every bite.
A huge thank you to all of my wonderful contributors! I would love to hear from you – what habits do you practice weekly to keep your physical, mental and emotional health in top shape?