A lot of our New Year’s resolutions revolve around health, fitness, and wellness. And it seems as though most of us give up on those goals mere weeks after starting. Part of the reason is that we only think about health and wellness in a physical way – through nutrition and exercise. But health isn’t just about what you’re eating or how you’re moving. It’s about what you’re thinking and saying too. Here are some tips on how to actually be healthy in 2019.
How to Actually be Healthy in 2019: Nutrition 101
Nutrition can be a tricky topic to navigate. With social media and “fake news”, almost everyone and their mother has become a diet expert in some regards. Lifestyle buzzwords are thrown all over the place. Should you be a vegetarian? Or try paleo? Is keto the best option? Low carb? High carb? How do you calculate a macronutrient split? How much protein does a person actually need? Do I really have to eat kale?
Let’s step back and take a deep breath. And let’s remember that the diet industry is crazy and confusing because it’s a profitable market. People want easy tricks regardless of health risks. Detox teas, specific brand diets, supplement shakes – they’re all going after the same kind of overwhelmed demographic. Someone confused and probably harboring some kind of insecurity. We need to also remember that people also want a sense of community. We search for it in all aspects of our lives. Being a part of the vegan community or “bacon lovers club” provides that social craving we yearn for during meal time.
Keeping all that in mind, eating in balance is the best thing you can do. It doesn’t matter what kind of diet you fall into – eat variety within that lifestyle. Eat whole foods as often as you can. Get some fiber and greens into your system. Eat your meats (but maybe stop buying the canned stuff and a less processed cut). Yes, protein is important. So, eat the source you like best and remember there are other macronutrients. You can eat processed food and treats, just don’t let them become your main fuel source. Get your vitamins and minerals. Supplement if you need to. Every single body is different and is going to thrive off something different. Get in tune with yourself. Practice mindfulness when you eat to become more self-aware of foods that make you feel great vs bloated and sickly.
Just like nutrition, fitness seems to have its’ fair share of confusion. But instead of staying in a place of feeling overwhelmed, let’s look at it differently. Because there are so many fitness options, that means there has to be something out there that you can enjoy (even if only a little!). And with so many online resources, you don’t necessarily have to empty your pockets to get in shape.
Do you embrace classes filled with people? There are a number of spinning, dancing, barre, and kickboxing classes you can dive into. Maybe you like the idea of working out with a few friends. There are gyms that have small group training options and some classes have a max of only ten people. If you’d rather sweat alone, you can hire a personal trainer. If you thrive on adrenaline and intensity, try tough mudders, ninja training, boxing, and the like. And if you’re more Zen, there are a number of low-intensity options like yoga, Pilates, hiking, and walking. If you’re saving, pop on YouTube for free fitness classes and circuits. And utilize social media to your advantage! There are a number of Instagram influencers who also share free circuits, exercise routines, and form tips daily!
The good news is that there is something for everyone and every mood. And there is no rule that says you have to stick to one kind of workout. If you had a bad day, 20 minutes with a boxing bag can do wonders. And if you were up all last night working on a big project, turn to yoga to de-stress and realign. If you’re anxious for a presentation, a fun hip-hop cardio class could help you loosen up. Maybe you’ve been grinding for the last three days, so a bike ride on your favorite trail sounds lovely. Just like food, a variety in your workouts can have a huge benefit on your body. Again, try to listen to it and get in tune with it. Your body has a lot to say!
But How to Actually Be Healthy in 2019: The Forgotten Mental Piece
We said it earlier, but we’re going to say it again. Health isn’t just about what you’re eating or how you’re moving. It’s about what you’re thinking and saying too. Just because you eat “clean” does not automatically mean you are healthy. And just because you can complete an iron man also does not automatically mean you are healthy. There’s the mental component of health that most of us forget about because we think that nutrition and fitness are the only answers. If we aren’t in a place of mental stability or don’t have the tools to help us get there, it’s like going to battle with an empty gun.
Maybe you feel out of control all of the time. Or perhaps you don’t like your inner monologue. Maybe you’re holding onto something and can’t move forward. Or you’ve repressed or bottled something and it’s starting to leak. Any of these could be reasons you aren’t reaching or making progress in your health and fitness goals. There’s a chance your unintentionally and subconsciously sabotaging yourself. And until you make amends in your mind, you’ll encounter a lot of frustration.
They’re All Connected
We know you know this. But health, fitness, mental wellness – all the cogs work together. That’s the magic secret. It’s not a pill or powder. It’s the knowledge that all these pieces work together and influence each other. If you fuel your body with processed junk, you’re going to feel slow, sluggish, and lethargic. If you feel tired and heavy, you won’t want to move. Not moving and fueling your brain with junk creates a negative feedback loop. You’re more susceptible to negativity, depressed thoughts, side effects from out of whack hormone levels.
But if you feed your body some nutrients, you’ll have the energy to move. Moving increases endorphins and other happy hormones, creating a positive feedback loop. You might find yourself more goal driven and a new motivation to be more productive. It reinforces to your body you care about it and you’ll continue growing from there. When your body and mind are well fed, rested, sober, alert, and engaged, it’s much easier to deal with the obstacles life throws at you.
We Want to Help You Actually Get Healthy in 2019
It’s almost the third week of January. Which means this is roughly the time that many of us start to hit a motivational plateau. This is a critical time because there are only two outcomes. You either find new motivation and get re-inspired to tackle your goal. Or you decide this goal isn’t manageable right now and you put it on the backburner.
Don’t put it on the backburner! You are too important to be on the backburner! Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has three locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals in 2019.
Jennifer Krause – MS, LPC
Jennifer is a Licensed Professional Counselor who received her Masters of Science Degree from Chatham University. She has over 18 years of counseling experience with a wide range of patients in a variety of treatment settings. These have included: outpatient community mental health agencies, partial psychiatric hospital settings, both inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol facilities, correctional settings, and an outpatient intensive treatment foster care program. Her clinical experience has been broad, treating both adolescents and adults struggling with: addiction, trauma, mood disorders, anger management issues, borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety. I also have experience with couples counseling, working with families, and group therapy. She has extensive training in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Trauma-Focused CBT.