How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle:

The Definitive Guide

The first step towards healthy living is perhaps the most difficult one…

Realizing that you need to change your current habits.

But you know what?

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve already taken that first step.

You’re ready to take action and feel better than ever.

How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle - Running

You may have a lot of questions on how to start a healthy lifestyle, but don’t stress out.

This comprehensive guide will show you my top secrets to help you enjoy the benefits of healthy living starting today.

Let’s dive right in…

CHAPTER 1

The Surprising Truth Everybody Needs to Know

About a Balanced Diet

Good eating habits don’t happen overnight.

You cannot force them or make drastic changes to your current routine.

The progression has to be done step by step.

A healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet
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That in turn makes the whole process more stress-free, which is very important because we are all exposed to countless stressors on a daily basis.

When it comes to your trip to the grocery store, it’s crucial that you pick fresh food instead of processed food.

Let’s break down that concept into smaller bits to make it easier to understand:

About Fats

Ok, first thing first…

GOOD FATS:

Your diet must include good fats.

The kind of fats that you find in avocado, whole eggs, dark chocolate < another reason to eat it >, nuts, chia seeds, and salmon.

But…

There is a reason why I mentioned fats in the first place.

I’ve seen a lot of people restricting their fat intake to lose weight.

Well, let me tell you something loud and clear:

That’s not right!

Your body needs a certain number of each macronutrient to function properly.

In fact, fats help your body absorb several vitamins such as A and D, to sustain a normal core body temperature as well as to provide energy.

TRANS FATS:

Trans fats, though, are way different.

They can be really detrimental to your body if you eat them on a regular basis.

You will find them mostly in deep fried food and some other baked goods.

That said, here’s a handy list showing the biggest food culprits of trans fats…

How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle - Worst Foods for Trans Fat

But let’s make something clear:

I’m not saying that you can’t eat this kind of food.

FOOD RESTRICTIONS

It’s worth noting that restrictions only make the change process harder.

The takeaway:

My advice here is that you should be mindful when choosing your fat sources. Pay special attention to trans fats and include good fats in your meal plan.

THE WELL-KNOWN MYTH ABOUT CARBS

And the Best Way to Debunk it

Now, it’s time to talk about carbs.

I want to start highlighting something important:

Carbohydrates are required by your body (especially your brain) to function properly.

So, long story short… they’re not the enemy.

CARBS ARE NOT YOUR ENEMY

There’s a big misconception about carbohydrates consumption that we need to stop right away.

The key to controlling their intake is to know the exact number of carbs you should consume daily.

You might be wondering…

How can I know that number?

Well, the only way to know it is through a custom macros breakdown which is calculated by considering specific information about you.

Carbs are not your enemy!

The bottom line here and what I really want you to understand is that you don’t have to restrict your carbs to have that dream body you have always wanted.

You can look great and eat that piece of bread too!

Protein is what helps you repair body tissues and add lean muscle mass to your body.

did you know?

Protein can be used by your body as an energy source when your carbohydrate intake is too low.

Something very interesting about this macronutrient is that it contributes to a longer feeling of fullness.

That means it helps you reduce cravings!

BEST PROTEIN SOURCES:

  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Tuna

Now that you have the knowledge to improve your eating habits for good…

It’s time to move on to other lesser-known tips later in this post, that will show you the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

CHAPTER 2

Why Drinking Water is One the Fastest Ways

to Improve your Performance

Recent evidence has shown that a fluid loss of 2% of body weight can affect your circulatory functions and decrease your performance levels.

2%
fluid loss
A fluid loss of 2% of body weight can decrease your performance levels

I know you might be thinking…

How can water affect my performance?

Here’s the deal:

Water has numerous roles in the human body.

It serves as a carrier for nutrients and waste products, it acts as the main thermoregulatory agent to control your body temperature, it takes part in the biochemical breakdown of what you eat (protein, fats, carbs) and the list goes on and on.

Hydration is key!
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So when you’re dehydrated, your energy levels start decreasing, and your body starts shutting down.

Take a look at this chart:

Effects of Dehydration

Did you also know that the amount of water you should drink every day varies between 3 and 4 liters?

That depends on your sex, age, weight, and activity level.

burn more calories

Drinking the right amount of water will boost your metabolism and make you burn about 60 Kcal more a day

What’s the bottom line?

Make sure you drink plenty of water every day, and even more when you’re extra active.

That way, you’re keeping your performance on point.

CHAPTER 3

4 Shortcuts to Avoid Unhealthy Habits

and Experience an Energy Boost

How to start a healthy lifestyle if you have unhealthy habits?

When talking about unhealthy habits, I’m not only referring to eating habits that can hurt your progress.

There are many different patterns in your life that may be holding you back—especially the 3rd one on this list—but first…

Let’s talk a little bit about them…

1

THE SIMPLE PRINCIPLES

Behind a Good Night’s Sleep

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a good night’s rest. Yes, at “night.”

Now, you may be probably thinking:

Why does it have to be at night?

When you’re sleeping–not napping–your body’s cells produce and store many proteins that help renew all your systems.

Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep
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While sleeping, many of your brain’s chemicals that affect your mood and performance are restored.

Talking about chemicals…

did you know?

Serotonin is one of the most important brain chemicals for regulating the sleep/wake cycle. It’s also widely regarded as one of the main factors affecting your mood, social behavior, appetite, and digestion.

Norepinephrine is another important brain chemical released during your sleep. This one is directly linked to your heart rate, blood pressure, stress response, and metabolism.

Recent studies by the University of Chicago shown that people who are well rested lose 56% more fat than those who are sleep deprived.

56%
SWEET DREAMS
People who are well rested lose 56% more fat… A great incentive to get a good night’s sleep every day!

Incredible, right?

So next time you’re thinking about going to bed late, I suggest that you remember the many benefits that a good night’s sleep can bring you.

BENEFITS OF A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP:

  • Maximize athletic performance
  • Lower risk of injury
  • Lower stress
  • Healthy weight
  • Better mood
  • Clearer thinking
  • Better memory
  • Healthier skin
  • Immune function improvement
  • Minimize anxiety and depression
2

THE ZEN OF STRESS MANAGEMENT

This point can be controversial because it’s kind of difficult to control the different situations that occur around you.

What you can and should do is to control the way you react to those situations.

I know it’s easier said than done, but with practice, you will be able to master stress management skills and successfully reduce your stress levels.

Here are some tips to get you started:

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE STRESS MANAGEMENT:

Disconnect over the weekend

Practice relaxation techniques

Keep a simple workspace

Limit alcohol and caffeine

Exercise regularly

Eat more mindfully

Get enough sleep

Learn to say ‘NO’

Ok, we just talked about the different ways to manage your stress, so let’s now move on to the detrimental effects that this bad boy can have in your life.

First, stress can negatively impact your cardiovascular health and your weight loss process.

Not very nice, huh?

The Zen of Stress Management for a Healthy Lifestyle
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When you feel stressed, your brain releases a flood of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

If those hormones become your best friends and they’re part of your daily routine, they can lead to serious health problems such as memory loss, higher risk of heart attack, and development of depression.

You don’t want that, do you?

So, if you want even more reasons to keep stress under control, remember that the list of negative effects on your body caused by high levels of stress goes on and on.

Those include anxiety, high blood pressure, appetite increase, weight problems, skin conditions… should I continue?

3

ARE YOU SAFE FROM

Mindless Snacking?

I’m not saying that you can’t snack! Of course you can do it, but in a controlled manner.

One of the biggest problems I see all the time when people come to me for macros consultations is that they snack too many times per day.

To avoid that, plan your meals in advance and pack your snacks for the day.

That way you’ll avoid eating unhealthy options that will add only empty calories to your diet.

Keep Healthy Protein Bars

At this point, you might be wondering:

What are the best snack options?

There are plenty of good options out there; you just need to pick them wisely.

HEALTHY SNACK ALTERNATIVES:

My advice?

I’m not going to overcomplicate things here, just pick something you and your taste buds like. Just make sure to first check the nutrition facts. Quality over quantity!

4

HOW SKIPPING YOUR BREAKFAST

Will Mess Up Your Progress

Skipping breakfast is a common mistake that many people do without realizing that this meal is key to reducing cravings.

Having a hearty breakfast is one of the most important fitness tips to lose weight because it reduces your anxiety and increases your physical performance.

Skipping this meal affects your mood, energy levels, and can even make you gain weight.

Look:

When you’re nurturing your body first thing in the morning, you are waking up your dormant metabolism to start burning calories once again.

So, if you’re one of those people that can’t eat a complete meal in the morning, then keep things simple… Have a bowl of oats or a sandwich.

A healthy breakfast means a healthy living!

Something as easy as that can make a huge difference in the outcome of your day and your overall progress.

Do you want to know the secret to starting your day full of energy?

Well, having breakfast is the answer!

It will help you kick start your day-to-day journey the right way.

CHAPTER 4

Learn to Improve Your Quality of Life

by Adding Physical Activity to Your Days

Can you imagine completely improving your quality of life just by adding an effective workout plan to your days?

It has been proven that doing 30 minutes of exercise a day improves your self-esteem, reduces your stress, sharpens your memory, and lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease.

I think those are pretty good reasons to start exercising today, don’t you think?

Improve your Quality of Life by adding Physical Activity to your days
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I can’t stress enough the importance of staying active and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.

In fact, having a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main causes of high rates of obesity in kids and teenagers.

So, if you’re really serious about the idea of healthy living, regular exercising should be at the top of your to-do list.

did you know?

Obesity is the fastest growing problem in America. Approximately 34% of Americans are obese.

There are a lot of reasons that can be attributed to this problem.

But the most relevant and the one with the highest incidence is the lack of physical activity.

A recent study by researchers from Stanford University’s School of Medicine showed that the number of women reporting no physical activity rose from 19% to 52% between 1988 and 2010.

For men, the same issue was observed, but in this case the rate jumped from 11% to 43%.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY TRENDS IN AMERICA
INACTIVE OR SEDENTARY:

1988

Women = 19%
Men = 11%

2010

Women = 52%
Men = 43%

Disturbing, right?

But obesity is not the only health issue that can benefit from regular exercise.

There are many other health problems that can be addressed and/or controlled when people start practicing a more active lifestyle.

In fact, regular exercise is often prescribed to individuals with chronic diseases to improve their quality of life.

Amazing, don’t you think?

Now that you have seen some of the problems of not having regular physical activity, let’s talk about the incredible benefits of daily exercise.

As you may have thought, the exercise benefits are endless, and they range from increased relaxation and better sleep to healthier skin and stronger bones.

There are literally hundreds of benefits from regular exercise, but to make things simpler, here are some of my faves:

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

All right, you now know the pros and cons, but there’s one missing part of the puzzle.

How can I become more active?

Here’s the deal:

Including some kind of physical activity in your day-to-day routine is not a difficult task.

Regular Physical Activity is just so important!
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You can include anything from walking, jogging or hiking to yoga, pilates, cycling, and weightlifting.

There’s only one thing you will need to consider…

Regular exercise:

If you’re a beginner or if you’re afraid of getting hurt, I recommend that you start slowly and then progressively increase your level of activity.

Otherwise, you can put yourself at risk if you are not used to getting much physical activity and then suddenly, you start doing 500 squats.

CHAPTER 5

How to Take Charge

of Your Rest Days

This is a very important part of having a healthy lifestyle.

But let me explain something to you real quick.

When I talk about rest, I’m not only referring to a good night’s sleep.

Rest in my opinion entails so much more.

A proper rest session should include different elements that nurture not only your mind but also your soul.

My recommendation is that you choose an activity that you really enjoy doing and include that activity in your rest days no matter what.

What’s the point you may ask?

Doing an activity that you love will help you release the stress of the week and will give you a new perspective of the things that are bothering you.

So, it’s like a fresh start for the next day.

Enjoying your Rest Days is key to a Healthy Living
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Your brain and creativity will be able to work at maximum capacity, and your mood will improve greatly.

But wait, what happens if I already practice a healthy lifestyle?

What’s the importance of rest days for those people that do regular physical activity?

Well, if you’re into the fitness life already, your body–especially your muscles–will be craving for a rest day.

In that case, a proper recovery session should last 48 hours.

This period is crucial because it will give your muscles the time necessary for recovering, strengthening, and growing.

Yep, you read that right!

MUSCLES & REST DAYS

Your muscles grow outside the gym when you’re not exercising!

It’s on your rest days where the muscle fibers that were damaged during the workout sessions recover and increase in size.

Rest periods are also important because they reduce muscle soreness and prevent injuries.

That said, there’s one key lesson I want you to remember…

When you skip your rest days, the probabilities of having an injury increase considerably.

Passive Recovery
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Why?

Because you wouldn’t be giving your muscles enough time to recover, or in more simple terms, this means you would be overtraining.

That brings us to another mini-chapter…

WHAT’S OVERTRAINING?

In simple words, overtraining occurs when the intensity and volume of the exercise exceed your recovery capacity which results in a performance decline.

Another way to see it is that you’re giving your body more work than it can handle.

Regardless of how you want to interpret the concept, overtraining is a very common scenario in strength training, runners, and nearly every sport and fitness activity.

Now let’s go even one step further…

Luckily, there are signals that can lead you to determine if you are suffering from overtraining syndrome.

Here are some of them:

SIGNS OF OVERTRAINING:

  • Constant muscle soreness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Unquenchable thirst
  • Sustained injuries
  • Halted progress
  • Burnout

If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, you may be overdoing your training program.

That means you should reassess your priorities and rebuild your exercise routines or follow a structured and well-balanced workout program.

Overtraining and Stretching
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OK, we have covered almost everything with regards to rest days, yet one question remains unanswered…

SHOULD MY REST DAYS INCLUDE

Some Kind of Physical Activity?

Long story short, it’s entirely up to you.

You can opt in for either passive or active recovery.

Passive Recovery refers to not doing any kind of physical activity on your rest days.

While Active Recovery is about adding low-intensity activities to your rest days such as swimming, self-myofascial release (foam rolling), or hiking, just to name a few.

If you decide to choose active recovery, please keep in mind that you’re on your rest day, so take it easy.

Whether you’re a newbie, a fitness enthusiast, or a seasoned athlete, remember to take some time off to let your body and your mind recover from the stress of the week.

It’s a crucial part of the journey that is sometimes overlooked, so make sure not to make that mistake.

Total relaxation equals a healthy living
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The Takeaway

Much has been said about how to start a healthy lifestyle, yet the most important lesson here is to start the process right away.

Don’t wait another day…

If you’re overwhelmed with the different things you need to do, then start small, but start right now!

Once you’re on board, everything is going to fit together and your path towards healthy living will become easier.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN…

First, pat yourself on the back because you just read a 3300-word article!

Second, are you ready to use the actionable info from this post to start or continue your journey towards a healthy lifestyle?

If so, then I recommend grabbing the free guide I put together just for you.

Also, don’t forget to comment below. I’d love to hear what you think of this post.

  • MyHealthSpin

    Wow, this was so in depth and such great info! You really put a lot of hard work in to this! It is truly helpful for me trying to get back on track!

    • Ok, now I’m reading this, lol! I’m glad that you liked it!

  • Kseniya Gershberg

    Great post and amazing tips! So true that stress affects your weight loss and you do have to properly hydrate. I also agree that it’s important to not burn yourself out. When I worked out 7 days a week non-stop I ended up getting injured and had to stop, getting pushed back on my weight loss plan. Thank you for sharing great tips!

    • Hey Kseniya, I’m glad you find the tips helpful. I will try to share in-depth information every time I can. Hope you’re crushing your weight loss journey!

  • Pipsnacks Communications

    Love this article! So many interesting facts that we never knew! It is nice to be reminded that snacking is not bad, just needs to be controlled! Packing your snack (maybe a bag of Pipcorn ;) ) is an amazing idea! You Go Girl!

    • Glad you liked it guys! Pipcorn fan right here :)

  • Assya Barrette

    Love the fitness wear <3!

  • You’re welcome gorgeous!

  • Rebecca Ray

    Love this post! You’re an inspiration Pao!

  • Best page on a healthy lifestyle I’ve ever seen! This can keep me focused and productive in my workout and diet for the next 3 months.

    • Thanks Jonathan! Huge compliment coming from you! Thank you!

  • Oh, I LOVE the outline of this article! Very dynamic.
    It’s so important to don’t force yourself into a different lifestyle. I remember when I was trying to give up fried foods; boy, it was hard. But after a while I realized I was craving them anymore and now I don’t make fried food anymore.

    Cristina | *janded

    • Fully agree Cristina, people need to go step by step when it comes to changing their habits.

  • linda spiker

    Wow very comprehensive list! I love it. And I am a big anti-trans fat preacher so I am with you there!

  • tchole213

    Phenomenally detailed post! You look great! Definitely working on my eating happens as I continue my personal fitness journey.

    • Thank you so much!! Glad you like the level of detail.

  • K firstly, thank you for setting this up SO well. It’s so nicely presented and easy to get through! I have been on a health journey for the past month and it’s pretty much the only time in my life that I have consistently been conscious of what I’m eating, what I’m drinking and how much I’m exercising. I noticed the changes in my energy and strength levels immediately (which were both pathetic to start with, haha) and I’m loving that I’m starting to see the changes in my body now as well! This is an amazing guide, thank you!

    • Chelsea, I’m so glad you liked the guide. I tried to make it as comprehensive and practical as possible.

  • What a great post! Very informative!

    • Glad you liked it!

  • I recently discovered that incorporating more healthy fats into my diet makes me less hungry and I overall eat less throughout the day :)

    Gennifer Rose | http://www.GenniferRose.com

    • There you go girl, healthy choices that will make crush your fitness goals!

  • Wow this is a great resource! You’ve sure given me a lot to think about :) Thanks for putting this together! Cheers, Mary Jane

    • Happy you found it helpful Mary Jane!

  • Leena

    Great information, I’ll be sure to reference this article! I need to start and be fully committed to a healthy life style.

    • Do it girl, it’s not that complicated. Do it step by step and it will become part of your routine in a flash.

  • Chimee Ahaiwe

    I so needed this post ! Sent the link to a friend as well!

    • Great girl, so happy that people find this guide useful.

  • Jessica Bradshaw

    This is AMAZING!! SO many great tips. Your also, absolutely stunning! Thank you for this! It really is a definite guide.

    • Thanks Jessica! Happy that you found it useful!

  • Hasannah McGhee

    This was so informal, such motivation to be healthier and girl you are for sure body goals! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for your kind words lady!

  • THIS WAS SERIOUSLY THE BEST FITNESS GUIDE I’VE READ IN A LONG TIME! I’m so impressed. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together. I definitely signed up for the guide! Wow!!!!! I’m trying really hard to lose the weight this year and keep it off!

    • Great that you liked it! The guide is a very handy ebook you can go to every time you need it.

  • Coppélia

    I LOVE this site!!! So helpful & it looks beautiful, too!

  • Thanks :)

  • Tia

    These are all great tips! I am definitely interested in a healthy lifestyle this year. I am working on a holistic but realistic approach. I feel better inside and out when I am healthy and fit.

    • Glad you liked the tips. I think people need to start with small achievable goals and go from there. It’s so much easier that way.

  • What a great post…lots of helpful info to get started on the right path!

    • Glad you liked it Colleen!!! =)

  • adita yuniar

    love your blog Paolaa..beautifully designed and useful content that every ladies should read to live happier and healthier..

    • So happy that you enjoyed the read Adita!

  • Taylor Nelson

    Thanks so much Pao!

    • You’re welcome :)

  • Kristen Ferree

    Thanks! I just started going to the gym but I’m a little overwhelmed trying to start being healthier. This helps a lot

    • I’m glad you found this article helpful. I know it can be overwhelming at first, but if you follow a proven plan you will get results!

  • Almudena Egusquiza

    I’m definitely a mindless snacker, that’s my biggest issue and it’s incredible how this action can keep pushing me back in every aspect of my life. For me more than healthy recipes of my already favorite desserts, what works is walking at least 300 steps and just clearing up my mind, just learning to listen to my mind and body (and drinking water/tea of course)
    Thanks Pao :)

    • You’re welcome love. We should do whatever works for us. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution and there’s no magic pill. What’s important here is to develop healthy habits and it seems you’re on the right track… Walking 300 steps and clearing up your mind is perfect!