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Updated: Dec 21, 2022

How to start a healthy lifestyle.

A “healthy lifestyle” sure is the talk of the town these days. But what does it really mean? To me, being healthy means living a life of habits that focus on increasing your longevity (how long you live) and improve quality of life. For example, obesity has been proven to increase chances of developing medical conditions that can negatively affect quality of life, therefore decreasing longevity.

How and where to start

So, how do you start living this kind of life? Well, with the amount of information on the internet these days, you could spent hours and hours exploring “this diet plan to lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “that exercise program to gain 30 pounds of muscle in 30 days”. But the reality is, you just need to start NOW. Start moving your body more. Start making conscious choices about what/how much you eat. Nothing will happen without taking action. Maintaining a healthy body weight starts with a simple equation, Calories in Vs. Calories out.

Calories in Vs. Calories Out

For simplicity sake, let’s just start by saying calories = energy. “Calories in” is simply the amount of food (calories) that you consume in a day. We each have a certain amount of calories that our own body is used to expending in a day. For example, an Olympic swimmer will have a higher calorie intake to meet their energy needs than the average human that doesn’t exercise often. “Calories out” is just that, the amount of calories (energy) that you expend in the average day. People will often start out being bombarded with information about how there are other factors that affect weight loss and weight gain such as hormones, metabolism, etc. While there may be truth to these factors, you are just starting out, so cross those bridges when you get there.

With modern technology it is so easy to track the approximate amount of calories you consume by using calorie tracking apps. Find one that suits you best and start tracking EVERYTHING you eat in a day, and be honest with yourself. If you cheat by not tracking the junk food, you’re just cheating yourself. After you have a good few solid days, even a week, of average calorie intake you can determine where to go from there. If you have been gradually gaining weight, this means your average calories are in a “surplus” meaning you are eating too many calories for your body’s needs. If you have been slowly losing weight, this means your average calories are in a “deficit” meaning your body isn’t getting the amount of calories it needs so it turns to the stored energy in your body; fat. If your weight is constantly the same, this means you’re eating at maintenance calories.

So, depending on what your goals are, start by increasing or decreasing your daily calorie intake in small increments such as about 100 calories. Do this for a week or two and track your progress and increase/decrease in small increments as needed. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT change your calorie intake in large amounts such as 1000 calories or more at once. While this may result in quicker results, you can only go so low before it is impossible to maintain. This makes it way more likely that you will gain weight back, usually at a fast rate. This is called Yo-Yo dieting.

Let’s use an example, we’ll call him Bob. Bob eats an average of 3000 calories per day and has gradually been gaining weight. He is ready to make a change to lose some of that unwanted body fat that not only affects his physical health but also his mental health. Since his body is used to getting 3000 calories per day we will decrease it by 250 calories for a total daily allowance of 2750 calories. A candy bar can be 250 calories! This puts him in a daily deficit of 250 calories per day, or 1750 calories per week. 1 pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories, so in two weeks he will have lost 1 pound of body fat. This is a very safe and easy way to slowly lose weight.

Now, let’s talk calories out. Bob has a desk job where he sits all day and is used to coming home and lounging around the house. If Bob simply incorporated some sort of physical exercise that he enjoys every day, he will lose even more weight. Let’s just say that he burns 250 extra calories per day just by walking his dog, Walter. He didn’t even have to go to the gym! Between cutting out a candy bar every day (250 calories) and walking his pup (burning 250 calories), his body has registered a 500 calorie difference. That is 1 pound of fat per week just by making two simple choices TODAY! After these healthy habits are a part of Bob’s lifestyle he can explore new ways to improve his diet or learn a new physical activity that he enjoys that burns even more calories.

If you take only one thing away from this article, make it this; stop thinking about making better choices and start doing, NOW!

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