Do you sometimes wonder if you’re healthy or not?
It can be a complicated question. Dr. Jenni Bruning Brown, owner of Fly, says that she defines health as feeling good, inside and out. “When I’m living a healthy lifestyle, I feel happy, energized and strong and I know that I’m treating myself and my body in positive ways,” she says. Jenni makes sure she regularly does a few things that make her feel better in the long run and feel good. Bonus? Living a healthy lifestyle will show on the outside as well. Read on to find out how you can feel healthier, stronger and happier—just by doing these few simple things.
- Stay active. “Working out releases endorphins, which lower stress and can make you feel happier and more positive,” Jenni says. When you work hard, you feel more capable, confident and goal-directed. It’s a win-win situation. Plus, you can always find some fun way to move, no matter what you like or don’t like about exercise. If you’re in another city, she recommends trying new classes or going for a walk or run outdoors and people watch while you get a sense of the city and the community there.
- Focus on the inside. There are so many people that think if they just lose 5 pounds they’ll be happier. Jenni emphasizes that it’s not about a number on the scale, but rather what’s happening on the inside. Knowing who you are and finding balance can help you focus on things that make you happy. Notice your strength or your compassion. Commend yourself on your sense of responsibility. Instead of looking at appearance, find internal qualities that will boost your confidence and seek opportunities to let those qualities shine.
- Eat for joy. When it comes to food, Jenni recommends eating and drinking what you love (in moderation, of course). She says that not only is there not a one size fits all diet for everyone, the world we are living in just isn’t set up to eat “clean” 100% of the time without a lot of hard work. She recommends starting with small goals instead of having unattainable standards so you don’t end up binging and feeling worse down the road. By starting simple, like trying to drink more water each day, eating more vegetables and unprocessed foods or limiting your sugar intake or alcohol can make a big difference. For her, Jenni says eating breakfast is crucial for her to practice moderation. “I boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and make sure that I eat a few for a quick protein blast if I’m running out the door,” she says. “When I have more time, I’ll have some Greek yogurt and mix in muesli and raw almonds. You have to pick what you need to help you feel better,” she says. For Jenni, eating things she loves—like chocolate—is true enjoyment. “You can’t deprive yourself,” she says. “If you do, you’ll be in a constant battle so you just allow yourself some pleasure and do it in moderation.”
- Set goals. Make them attainable and do them for you. Jenni suggests even simple goals are good because they can help you to feel accomplished, confident and positive about your forward direction. “Having a diary or a notebook can help you keep track of your goals,” she says, “and then you know where you’ve been and where you’re going.”
With the rise of fitness programs and a whole spectrum of specialty diets getting so much attention, it can be easy to feel like you’re failing at living a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to completely empty your kitchen cabinets or workout every day of the week to be healthy. Listen to your body and know that there will be times to move and times to rest. As long as you fuel yourself mindfully and focus on your values and how they translate to goals, you are living a healthy lifestyle – so give yourself a break!