Living a healthy lifestyle is about having the abundant life – an existence where physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs are all being taken care of.
No, we’re not going to have everything be picture-perfect and problem-free, but we can get into a healthy state where we feel empowered to face life head-on while being in control of our own destinies. When we finally decide to take charge of our lives by committing to eating right, exercising often and thinking positively, there’s no telling how endless our possibilities really are!
1. Solidify your diet & exercise goals
How can you live a healthy lifestyle? By wanting to. Desires dictate our thoughts, which dictate our choices. When you really want to learn how to play an instrument, for example, you save up your money to buy one, you budget in time to practice and you don’t give up even when it’s hard. Why? Because you really want to learn to play.
When my mom encouraged me to take piano lessons as a child, I only lasted a few months and I hardly ever practiced. When I wanted to learn to play guitar in high school, however, the story was different because I was self-motivated to learn. I was doing this for my own purposes and my level of commitment was drastically different. I picked out a guitar and practiced on my own for a year before I even took a formal class. Once I made it to college, I continued to play and took even more lessons at my own expense.
The same if-you-want-it-you’ll-work-for-it model applies when it comes to sticking to a diet and exercise plan. If you really want a healthy body, you’ll work for it. If you really want to look your best, you’ll learn to say no to a fast-food-only way of life. The outcome may not be easy to achieve, but when you truly want something, you’re willing to make sacrifices to be as close to your desired results as possible. Of course, there are medical conditions outside of your control and limitations you logistically cannot remove, but living a healthy lifestyle is about being at your best and doesn’t require you to be anything you can’t be.
2. Think about health, not about size
Keeping in mind that there are things you can control in life and there are things you can’t, your bone density happens to be one of those things outside of your realistic control. You may diet and exercise and diet and exercise and never be the shape and size you want. Thankfully, there is no universally-optimal size or body type that we are all required to shoot for.
Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about starving yourself and getting plastic surgery to look like your favorite celebrity. The real idea is to stick to a healthful eating regimen full of nutrient-rich foods and an exercise plan that helps your body stay strong and fit. When you combine those two facets with someone who is emotionally, socially, spiritually, occupationally and intellectually well, all-encompassing health is the natural result.
3. Understand where you are financially
Being healthy is about being in charge, being free from obesity, weakness, addiction and debt.
Living the abundant life is not about buying everything you could ever want; it’s about appreciating everything you have. When you’re in a good mental, emotional and spiritual state, you’re able to see that the cliche is true: money doesn’t buy happiness anyway. Trying to keep up with the Jones’ just leaves you right where you started on the road to real success except now you have an emptier bank account to boot.
In this world, living obviously costs so we each have to find that personal balance of when to work and when to play, when to buy more and when to buy less. Living within your means is a key ingredient for having across-the-board health and knowing when to make do or go without is a skill we can all benefit from. Ultimately, being a self-reliant and provident provider is challenging yet rewarding and empowering.
If you have no idea where to start, simply get out a pen and piece of paper or open up a spreadsheet program on your computer. Write down every expense you have this month including your rent, car payment, health insurance, food costs, phone bill and any other financial obligations you may have. Now, add up all the line-item expenses and compare the sum to your total pay stubs for the month. If you’re paying out more than you’re bringing in, something has to change fast or else that healthy life you’re shooting for will keep getting more and more out of reach.
4. Recognize your power to react
I think there is one concept that almost all humans are really good at: making excuses. My alarm clock didn’t go off so I had to go to the drive thru for breakfast. My phone broke so I have to buy a top-of-the-line replacement. I’m sick so I can’t go to my yoga classes and my only choice is to watch television instead. These are silly examples, yes, but hopefully they make the necessary point that we often justify a choice by listing a true fact and then pretending like we had no follow-up agency.
One of my all-time favorite quotations is from a spiritual leader named Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.
Do you want a healthy lifestyle? Then, you accept the alarm malfunction and you react by eating a nice protein bar instead of your original plan for making a green smoothie. You react to a broken phone by finding a replacement option that is in your budget and you react to being sick on Sunday by reading your scriptures or performing mediation at home instead.
Unexpected and unwanted situations will continue to come your way, but you do the best with what you have to work with and that’s how you live a healthy lifestyle and a happy, prosperous life!