10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips to Feel Better
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On most days … my wife and I try to follow the paleo diet. There are exceptions and we do splurge a little … especially around the holidays.
But overall, we try and maintain a healthy lifestyle whenever possible. And following the paleo diet is one of the things we do to help our bodies feel better.
There are even certain times, especially after holidays, we go above and beyond paleo.
When we need to detox our bodies from misuse, we will start a round of Whole30®. In fact, as I am writing this, we are finishing up our second round of this 30 day lifestyle change.
The Whole30® program requires that you cut out all processed foods from your diet. You are allowed to eat vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, meat, and nuts.
You are NOT allowed to eat sugar, grains, legumes, soy, dairy, or drink alcohol on the Whole30®. The paleo diet is very similar, but with a few exceptions.
Healthy Living Tips
If you want to take back control of your life, but don’t think you can handle following a paleo diet or doing a Whole30® … then consider making small changes to your lifestyle.
Here are 10 healthy lifestyle tips that I suggest you try if you want to feel better. You can do as many or as few as you like.
But each tip you follow through on will put you in better health and make you feel better.
1 – Don’t Eat Sugar
The absolute #1 rule in my book is to avoid eating any and all forms of sugar that are not “natural”. And those natural type sugars are limited as much as possible in our diets.
We try very hard to keep sugar out of our home – but it is found in a ton of processed foods. Sugar comes in many different forms with all sorts of names including – high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, and sucrose.
Here is a great resource from the Whole30® on common names for sugar and what to avoid – other names for sugar.
The only exceptions we make are those forms of sugar from natural sources like – honey, maple syrup, and fruit.
In the case of honey and maple syrup … we try and limit those as much as possible. Plus they are not allowed on the Whole30®.
We also will occasionally use coconut sugar if we are baking or in our coffee, but again not on the Whole30®.
Really the only food group that we don’t put any restrictions on is fruit.
2 – Heavy/Moderate Exercise 2 or 3 Times per Week
I used to think that moderate to heavy exercise was necessary 6 or 7 times per week.
Now I have realized that 3 times per week (and even 2 times per week) is better for the body. Since I am not training for the Olympics, working out 3 times per week lets my body heal in between.
I prefer Tabata style HIIT workouts that last 20 – 30 minutes for my training. These workouts include several different types of exercises (usually 8) that are repeated throughout the session.
I typically vary exercise routines from workout to workout. One day I might focus on upper body and the next on lower body.
We are NOT only trying to eat healthy, but also focused on building muscle by doing these Tabata workout routines.
3 – Say No to Grains (Most of the Time)
Next to sugar, eliminating grains from my diet is the second most important guideline I follow.
I don’t eat bread, muffins, bagels, or any other baked good with grains. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I had any kind of bread or baked good.
The only exception that I make is if we have pizza on a special occasion. We will also eat rice or quinoa from time to time … depending on the meal we fix.
Note – rice and quinoa are all NOT allowed on the Whole30®.
But overall, my grain consumption is very limited.
4 – Run a Couple Times per Month
I once ran at least 5 miles per day for over 60 days in a row. That was back when I was in college and in my early 20’s.
As I have grown a lot older (and a lot more wiser) … I have realized running that kind of distance every day really wasn’t good for my body.
I was always looking for that “runners high” … which never really happened.
Instead of doing my body good … I was actually stressing myself out about running. I would worry so much about getting my run in, that the stress was wreaking havoc.
Long are the days when I would run 35+ miles per week. Instead, I try and run 3 or maybe 4 times per month now to mix things up a little.
I only run about 3 miles when I go, but can certainly feel my legs sore for several days.
Now I know that my body needs to repair those sore legs, so I wait to run again.
5 – Never Drink Soda … Never
I used to live on diet soda (actually I call it pop). On any given day, I would drink 3 to 5 cans of diet coke.
But then I started realizing the horrible effects that diet soda can have on your body and started to slowly reduce my consumption.
The regular soda alternatives are a little better – maybe? But they contain so much sugar (see #1) that it is really just as harmful to the body.
I actually can’t remember the last time I had a soda – diet, regular, or any other type.
Instead of drinking soda, I drink mostly water and coffee. I will have the occasional alcoholic beverage (see #7), iced tea – and that is about it.
Do yourself a favor and eliminate soda of all forms from your diet.
6 – Cut Way Back on Dairy
I hated milk growing up. Hated it!
And as I was growing up, I could never understand why humans were always told to drink the milk of another animal?
It just never made sense to me. Cows milk is meant for a baby cow. Not humans.
Despite not liking milk, I would still eat cheese and ice cream and other dairy products.
That all changed though after learning more about the paleo lifestyle and starting the Whole30®. Now, I rarely eat anything dairy related.
I may have some blue cheese on a salad, or some butter every once in a while. But that is it.
7 – Limit Alcohol
When not on the Whole30®, I will occasionally have a glass of wine or beer.
This may be one or two drinks per week. Or even one or two ever other week. It just depends on what events we may attend or my mood.
For example, an ice cold beer in the summer can sure hit the spot. Or a glass of red wine at dinner may be a nice way to complete the meal.
But overall, my alcohol consumption is way down since following the paleo way of life.
8 – Cook Our Food
It is very hard to eat out at a restaurant now that we are following a paleo lifestyle. The amount of time we spend looking for foods we can eat just isn’t worth the reward of eating out.
So instead, we cook 95% of our meals at home.
Despite buying healthier foods that are often organic … we are still saving a bunch of money by eating at home.
Over the last year, I have even realized that I actually love to cook. Who knew?
Now, there is a lot of extra time involved with cooking your own food and the cleanup. But overall … I think it is a great trade-off.
You know what is in your food. You are likely saving money. And most importantly – you will have a better respect for food in general once you start cooking!
9 – Lift Things
I hated pushups when I was younger and played sports.
First of all, I was not very strong when I was a child growing up. So pushups were very hard for me.
I did start lifting weights a little once I got into college, but it was sporadic. But basically I avoided pushups, lifting weights, or any type of strength training.
Instead … I would do mostly cardio by running (see #4) way too many miles.
But now as I focus more on HIIT workouts, I incorporate pushups and other strength training into my exercise routines.
Lifting heavy things like kettle-bells and dumbbells (and even pushups) has made a huge difference in my weight-loss goals and overall health.
10 – Don’t Diet
Putting restrictions on the amount of food you eat seems silly to me. If you are hungry … then you need to eat. If you feel full … then stop eating.
Most “diets” are just bad news in my opinion.
I don’t see any reason to starve myself of the food my body needs when I am hungry. However … I do put a restriction on the types of food I eat (see #1 & #3).
Eating fresh, unprocessed, organic foods like fruits and vegetables will fill me up much faster than something from a package.
So while my family does eat certain foods and avoids others … we don’t necessarily diet.
It is more a way of life if anything … but not a diet.