Let’s face it, there is no quick fix or magic pill that will lead to optimal health and longevity. If you really want to look and feel great in your 40s, 50s and beyond, you need to think about the long term. Since many of us have busy lives and find it difficult to set aside the time to eat right and exercise, here are a few habits you can easily integrate into your daily life that will pay huge dividends later on. But first things first. If you want to make a change that lasts, now is the time to take a long, hard look at what’s preventing you from being healthy and physically fit in the first place. And that starts with your attitude.
Everyone is guilty of making excuses at one point or another. And when you have a busy life that moves at a million miles an hour, it can be difficult to prioritize your health. However, the key word here that will forever free you from the roadblock of excuses is “prioritize.” When you are making excuses not to go to the gym, or to not take the time to cook a healthy meal or eat vegetables, you are choosing not to prioritize your health. It is a choice. But many people don’t slow down enough or create the space in their lives to recognize that.
If you’re unsure of your priorities, take an hour out of your day, grab a piece of paper (or create a new document on your computer) and make a conscious effort to determine yours. If furthering your career, taking care of your new baby, or some other important and demanding duty takes priority over health, so be it. Accept it. You can always make time to prioritize your health later on. Just recognize that you have a choice. Without this recognition, you will always feel like a victim – no matter what you’re trying to accomplish.
So without further ado, here are four habits you can integrate into your day that help create long-term health.
Cutting junk food out of your diet cold turkey, and expecting it to last, is just plain silly. This is because, sooner or later, you’re almost certain to break your habit and binge on Cheetos, Oreos, or whatever unhealthy food it is that destroys your willpower.
The trick is to cut back on junk food substantially while still eating it as a “once-in-a-while treat.” By doing this, you’re much more likely to create a healthy habit you’ll stick with for the long term. So instead of giving up the chocolate cake or pizza that you love, allow yourself to indulge in it modestly once or twice a week.
Squeezing in a workout is extremely difficult for many people who are hyper-focused on their careers or have a growing family. So if you’re strapped for time, it makes sense to try and find a high-intensity workout that doesn’t take up an hour. Try a combination of burpees, jumping jacks, planks and other exercises that elevate your heart rate quickly and leave you dripping with sweat in minutes.
Find reasons to walk or move around. Go bike riding, take a hike, or walk to work or the supermarket instead of hopping in your car. Rather than watching a movie with your friends or family, play sports instead – throw a frisbee, join a dance class, or kick around a soccer ball. Our bodies are designed to move, and doing so is a great way to stay active and healthy, and burn calories.
Maybe it’s because many of us were forced to eat them as a child, but a lot of people simply don’t like veggies. However, we all know that they’re an integral part of a healthy diet. That’s why it’s important to find a way to fit their taste to your liking. No, this doesn’t mean drowning them in cheese. Instead, sprinkle just a little cheese on top of your vegetable salad, cook them up in a stir fry or add them to a green smoothie. Make your veggies enjoyable, and you’ll find it a lot easier to eat them on a daily basis.