Most people view 'being healthy' as desirable, sought after and often elusive.There are many definitions of healthy, leading to quite a bit of dispute over what it is to be healthy.Exploring what the 'healthy' label might imply may shed light on our individual understanding of what health means to us, and better help us reach our personal health goals.So, what is healthy?Is it following a diet without any fat, sugar, meat, carbohydrate and gluten? Is it eating very little? Is it eating only during the day? Should we eat plenty of small meals, or only a few big ones? Is healthy exercising for 10 hours each day? Running marathons? Lifting weights? Is healthy only if you do all of these things, all at once?The list seems endless, and the more we hear about doing 'this or that' to be healthy confuses and overwhelms us even more.The truth is: Healthy has a different meaning for everyone.Different diet or exercise regimens affect each person differently, so there is not one simple answer.However, there are some guidelines for us in terms of diet, physical activity and mindfulness that can begin to point us in the right direction.Eating HealthyGenerally, a healthy diet is one that has lots of fruits and vegetables (providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber), good sources of lean protein (chicken, fish, and soy), unsaturated fats and plenty of water.A healthy diet also limits the amount of processed foods high in refined sugars, salt and saturated fats.This doesn't mean never having these foods, but eating them in moderation and eating mostly whole foods that have little added to them.
Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with small snacks in between is a good way to keep from getting too hungry; which may lead to eating 'junk' foods.Remember, balance is the key and eating a 'healthy' diet should be enjoyable and tasty, not a miserable experience.Moving HealthyAccording to the World Health Organization, physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles, which requires energy expenditure; meaning that a lot of everyday activities we do are healthy!Walking around the block, up the stairs, mowing the yard, and swimming at the beach are all good ways of being active.The United States Department of Agriculture recommends two and a half hours each week of activity at a moderate level, or one hour and fifteen minutes each week of vigorous activity for adults 18 - 64 years old.Think of what activity you like to do, this is a good place to start.Do something that you enjoy, that helps you to relax, relieve stress or is also a great social outlet.Find something you enjoy that works for your lifestyle.That is often the best way to ensure long term success.Thinking HealthyA big part of being healthy that usually gets overlooked is mental attitude and outlook.Keeping an open mind, being positive, mindful, motivated and practicing self-acceptance are all important.Begin to consider how our health is linked to our diet, activity and mindset.This is a huge positive step toward improving our health.Even if we don't always know what to look for in the store, or how many laps to swim, by building that awareness we are already valuing our health.In that way we are laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.Being kind to ourselves, being mindful and honoring the work we do to make healthy changes are all important pieces of the healthy puzzle.Learning to accept what we see as flaws, but still being motivated to reach goals will lead to further personal success and happiness.