Achieving your health goals—be they weight loss, stress reduction, or kicking a nicotine habit—is only the beginning of what it means to have a wellness strategy. Wellness is not a short-term goal. It is a lifestyle and a long-term commitment, which is why once you achieve your goal, you need a strategy to maintain that optimal health. Don’t be so afraid to take a step back that you don’t put the time and effort into making the lifestyle changes needed to remain healthy. We’ve outlined five healthy hacks that everyone should follow to maintain optimal health.
Stop Dieting. You read that right. The problem with dieting is that when you reach your goal or the end of your 40-day meal plan subscription, it can be tempting to consider the diet “off” and revert to the meal choices that led to weight gain over time. Rather than going into the mindset of dieting and taking a temporary break from high-fat, high-calorie, and low-nutrient foods while you seek a specific number on the scale, think of it as a lifestyle choice. That means not just taking a few months off from fast food and your habit of relying on a candy bar from the vending machine as an afternoon snack. It means a permanent split from your vices. That may feel like sacrificing an indulgence you love, but it’s necessary for long-term health.
Be Active Regularly. Note that we said That means you don’t necessarily need a gym membership or a CrossFit class. It involves fitting in at least 30-minutes of cardio into your schedule at least three times per week. That activity could come in the form of walking your dog, a yoga class, participating in the office softball league, jogging around your neighborhood, or going to the gym. What matters is that you choose one—or a variety—of activities that you can make lasting parts of your routine.
Understand your Risk Factors. Make an appointment with your primary care provider and talk about your potential risk for such chronic and complex health conditions as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Then, work with your doctor to put a plan in place to reduce your risks. Remember, a healthy diet and regular games of three-on-three basketball with your buddies won’t protect you from a catastrophic event brought on by stress or smoking—and you can’t eliminate your risks if you don’t know what they are, so talk to your doctor.
Reduce Stress. Eliminating all stress from your life may be impossible; after all, you can’t predict or avoid that inevitable traffic jam that always manifests when you are already running rate. However, if you have known, daily stresses in your life, talk to a wellness expert, life coach, physician, or friend about how to better cope or reduce the factors that lead to your stress, whether they be financial, family, or work-related. Stress can cause significant mental and physical health complications, which is why it must be a component of a long-term wellness strategy.
Kick Your Nicotine Habit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. If you are struggling to break your addiction to cigarettes, talk to your doctor. He or she can provide you with a list of resources, including nicotine addiction solutions, so you can begin the process of becoming a non-smoker—permanently.
Remember, optimal health is not a diet, a single fitness class, or a week off from smoking. It is a lifestyle choice that requires permanent changes. While change can be hard, remember your end goal is a long and healthy life with your loved ones. Now that’s something to work for.