Creating & Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

BY: AMANDA WILSON

Trying to be healthy always feels like a “thing”, doesn’t it?  Since it usually feels like a burden, an added duty, an extra, and something that deviates from our normal, we find ourselves at odds with our efforts and deem it too complicated and unrealistic. But most of us find ourselves coming back to the attempt it, again and again, never really making peace with it both practically and emotionally. 

Our mindset towards “healthy” will be a key player in the success of turning it into a lifestyle.  A lifestyle implies that it’s sustainable and attainable.  It can’t be those two things without creating a healthy relationship with our pursuit of wellness. A mindset that I have discovered to be transformational in my health journey is one of stewardship.  When we shift our mindset to being a steward of our body – it implements the role of caretaker, which is gracious, loving, purposeful, foundational, and sustainable. It shifts our attitude from “good and bad” food or “I can’t have that” food to choosing certain foods because they nourish our body and set it up for optimal function. It shifts our perspective of working out from “burning calories” and “losing weight” to "moving our body to make it stronger, more capable, and more vibrant".  It gives us the motivation to steward our bodies well so that we can live out our God-given roles and purposes with excellence. 

Considering your season of life is another vital aspect in achieving lifestyle wellness. I’m a big believer in this when it comes to setting goals or choosing your efforts toward wellness. Each of us has different capacities and demands within the season of life we find ourselves. If we pursue a workout routine or eating plan solely because “that girl” is doing it or you want “that body”, then our health journey will be filtered through comparison.  It will not only infiltrate your journey with bondage, shame, and obsession, but it will also take away from your roles and mindful presence in your current season of life. The goal is not for “healthy” to become our lives or our identity, but a mindset in how we approach food and movement.  When we try and force certain healthy actions on our season of life, it will only result in stress, discouragement, and failure. Do what you can, where you are, and with what you’ve got.  However, this doesn’t mean that discipline won’t be necessary, a shift of priorities might be required, or margin won’t need to be created.  It’s good to keep in mind that seasons of life change like the wind sometimes, so frequent reassessment of our plans and routine is necessary.

Speaking of movement, no one is going to argue that we need to exercise our bodies. The problem is usually when and how with a little lack of motivation thrown in there.  First, let’s remember to frame working out through stewardship.  This removes shame as a source of motivation for exercise. Goals are great and provide direction, but when they are our sole “why”, we will be reaching for that goal with the subconscious satisfaction of an arrival. Yes, the goal can be reached and that’s worth celebrating, but if we look at it as “arriving”, that works against the idea of lifestyle or stewardship. If you find yourself very new to working out and just the thought of it overwhelms you, shift your mindset away from “working out” and concentrate on increasing your overall movement throughout the day.  For those looking for a workout routine, the options and resources can be overwhelming.  It’s important to choose a routine that falls under these requirements: 1) it works with your current season of life, 2) you enjoy it (this may be a learned enjoyment), and 3) it is in line with your goals if you have specific ones for fitness.

Lastly, but arguably the most important, food.  Eating healthy can be overwhelming because there are so many different approaches and opinions that come along with it.  If you are new to pursuing health, have tried all the diets, or are just trying to establish consistency in your healthy eating, here’s the baseline: eat clean, real, whole food.  This is the foundational approach to fueling your body well and changing taste buds that will result in a sustained change that creates a “new normal”. Start there, making your aim to consume real, whole foods.  We need to teach ourselves to prefer, enjoy, and learn how to prepare real food to our liking to create a healthy foundation. If we never learn those three things, there will always be deprivation and an unhealthy perspective towards food. Give yourself grace with this transition, because it will take time, as a literal rewiring of brain pathways will have to occur towards food.

Practically speaking, I think that most would agree that two big hindrances towards eating whole, clean food are usually budget and time. Fridge and pantry assessment is a method I use to help with the budget. It also teaches me how to be creative and “learn” food.  Before I head to the grocery store, I always assess my fridge and pantry to see if I can make a meal/snack out of what I have now or if I can meal plan around those ingredients (make sure you’re following me on Instagram! I’ll be releasing a free Meal Plan Assessment Tool soon!).

As far as time goes, I take the method of food prep to tackle that issue. Food prep simplifies the approach to eating clean, gives variety, and sets you up for success in eating well throughout the week. Basically, I prep elements of a meal and then mix and match them throughout the week to create meals (example one, two).  I personally don’t prep enough food to cover every single meal (because real life happens…leftovers, friends house for dinner, out to eat, etc), but I have real food ready to throw together any time I want.  This looks like prepping 1-2 proteins, 3-4 vegetable sources, maybe a healthy, whole grain, a snack option, and possibly a breakfast option. Here’s an example of what that might look like:

PROTEINS: Baked Chicken Breast + Hard Boiled Eggs

VEGGIES: Raw Carrots + cucumbers, Roasted Sweet Potatoes + Brussels Sprouts, Lettuce Mix

BREAKFAST: Overnight Oats

SNACK: Apple + Cinnamon + Nut Butter

COMBINATIONS

1: Chicken Breast + Roasted Veggies

2: Hard Boiled Eggs + Veggies + Hummus

3: Salad (Lettuce, Chicken Breast, Raw Veggies)

My goal is for others to find a healthy lifestyle as joyful, simplified, and empowering. Aside from specific health issues, our pursuit of wellness doesn’t have to be complicated.  I created A. Wellness Note, a bite-size monthly wellness subscription, which serves to equip you with practical steps and knowledge that will result in a healthy lifestyle unique to you. It includes food prep, workouts, breakdown of how food works in your body and what it’s doing for you, simplified talk about trendy health topics to help you navigate the best choice, product recommendations, a monthly goal, and a heart and mindset focus.  My hope is that this will be used as a tool in your health journey to help you pursue it in a simplified, educated, and personalized way!

You are worth fueling and moving your body! Simplify your action steps toward wellness, doing the best within your capacity at this moment.  Be brave enough to reprioritize and create margin for your health. But know that over time, eating real food and moving your body will become a lifestyle.  We just need to make the choices and mindset shifts that get us there. Be gracious with yourself as you steward your body towards wellness. 

Use discount code SIMPLYSISTERS for 15% off of your A Wellness Note subscription!