Healthy living, or maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something we all want to achieve. But do we really know what it is? Generally it refers to the practises we use to improve or support our good health. If a person has a healthy lifestyle, it implies they have the spiritual, physical and mental strength to make healthy choices.
When you are feeling fit and healthy, you’re likely to feel more upbeat and energised - but if you’re not taking care of your health (for example eating poorly and not exercising) chances are you’ll feel lethargic and more prone to stress.
This page will explore healthy living in more detail and will explain how you can achieve a healthy lifestyle with the support of a life coach.
On this page
What is healthy living?
Healthy living is essentially making healthy choices in your daily life. When you think of behaviours that put your health at risk, you probably think of dramatic actions, such as alcohol and substance abuse, rather than seemingly mundane habits, like an unbalanced diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle. While both sets of behaviours are detrimental to your health, it is often the more mundane actions that creep up on you and become dangerous in the long term.
A number of healthy lifestyle choices include:
- eating healthy food
- nurturing positive relationships
- keeping fit
- having an encouraging work/life balance
- not smoking
- limiting alcohol consumption
- maintaining good mental health
- protecting your skin
- keeping hygienic.
This list doesn’t contain all of the factors that affect your overall health, but if you keep these in check, it can have a positive impact on your daily life.
How can a health coach help me achieve a healthy lifestyle?
Although most health coaches are not qualified doctors, they can often supply you with the motivation and support that is required for a healthy lifestyle. Discussing ways to transform your life in a positive manner is uplifting, it focuses your mind and by sharing your ideas with a supportive party and you may feel that your goals are more achievable.
As health coaching is an offshoot of life coaching, a health coach will not only be able to assist with your diet and motivation to exercise, they can also help with other issues that are associated with healthy living such as weight management over the long term, developing your career, maintaining relationships and regulating your stress levels.
- encourages individuals to take responsibility for their health
- explores lifestyle habits that work negatively against the immune system, which then leads to poor health
- is based upon collaborative partnership between client and coach
- enables the individual realise how healthy they are, and how healthy they can be
- promotes positive well-being and a good quality of life
- will help the individual reach their goals by taking small steps and complete tasks that they have struggled with before by holding them accountable.
Health coaching differs from personal training and counselling by promoting you as the expert in the partnership. It focuses on improving your quality of life rather than addressing a specific emotional or physical problem, even though these problems might become goals. A health coach typically refrains from giving advice, prescribing or diagnosing anything – they use their expertise to create an action plan and provide tools to achieve goals.
Healthy living tips
If you are finding it difficult to motivate yourself to do simple tasks, feel stressed and generally low, your lifestyle could probably do with an overhaul. But don’t fret, there are positive steps you can take to address these issues and follow the path to a healthy lifestyle.
Weight management and dieting
Choosing the right food to eat on a regular basis can dictate your weight, energy levels and lifestyle. It’s important to eat a healthy diet, but on the other hand you should also enjoy what you eat so it doesn’t feel like a chore!
Dieting can be crucial to weight-loss by cutting down on unhealthy foods and introducing other types that supply you with the correct nutrients, minerals, fats and vitamins.
Health coaches are great at helping people find the motivation to stick to a healthy eating plan. Having that extra person keeping track of your diet also goes a long way to helping your long term weight management. They can explore the reasons behind why your diet has been slipping and help you get back on track.
If you are struggling to make sense of the hundreds of diets out there, you may want to start off small. So here are some tips for a healthy diet that you can start implementing now:
- Eat at least five portions of a variety fruit or vegetables a day.
- Refrain from eating fatty food such as fatty meats, full-cream milk, cheeses, butter, fried food etc.
- Aim to eat starch-based foods as a third of most meals. These include whole grain bread, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta.
- If you eat meat, lean meat or poultry is preferred.
- Try to include two or three portions of fish in your diet per week. One of these should be ‘oily’, such as herring, sardines, salmon or fresh tuna.
- If you do fry your meals, choose a vegetable oil such as sunflower or rapeseed.
- Try to stop adding salt to your meals and limit foods that contain high amounts in them.
Exercise and fitness advice
Now is the best time to start your journey to get fit. Finding the motivation to work on your fitness is typically the most difficult hurdle to jump, but with a health coach supplying the motivation and the action plan, you might find it far easier you originally expected.
Making a start and visualising your end goal of getting into shape can give you the motivation you need to keep going. Exercise releases the body’s natural chemicals: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline. It also decreases the stress hormone, cortisol. So just getting started will make you feel much better before it has any effects on your physical body. There are countless studies that link exercise with an enhanced state of well-being and improvement in mood even for those with depression.
You can start with any type of physical activity that gets you a little sweaty and mildly out of breath. These activities include swimming, jogging, cycling and even heavy gardening. It is thought however, that the more vigorous the activity, the better. 30 minutes of exercise is advised most days of the week, but if you struggle with that you can split it up into two 15-minute sessions, which work just as well.
If you are finding exercising hard, then enlisting the support of a health coach can be really helpful. Not only will they be able to help you find the motivation to exercise, but they will also provide great motivation for sticking with it for the long term.
Employ a positive sense of mental well-being
Our mental well-being is often overlooked when on the topic of a healthy lifestyle. We focus on keeping our bodies healthy by eating healthily and exercising regularly, but often neglect our mental health.
Our everyday jobs and home life can be very stressful and things can build up and get on top of us at some point. So improving your mental health should be a priority!
A health coach can assist you with problems you are having with your mental health such as stress, anxiety, confidence, depression and getting a better work/life balance. All of these things can negatively affect your mental health but can be addressed to reach your ultimate goal of living a healthy lifestyle.
Aim for a good night's sleep
Sleep plays an integral role in your well-being and good health throughout life.
Sticking to a strong sleep pattern can have a positive impact on physical health, mental health and quality of life.
Sleep deprivation occurs when you don’t get enough sleep, whereas sleep deficiency is a concept that occurs if you have one or more of the following:
- You have a poor quality of sleep.
- You sleep at a time of day that is not in sync with your body clock.
- You don’t get the correct amount of sleep (sleep deprivation).
- You have a sleep disorder e.g. insomnia.
Sleep deficiency can lead to a number of short and long term mental and physical health problems, loss of productivity and injuries. It’s a common problem to have, but this doesn’t mean it’s not serious. Sleep deficiency has been linked to such chronic health problems as kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
If you are having trouble with your sleep, a health coach can be very beneficial in trying to address these issues. Sleep is a necessity, and neglecting it is the same as neglecting to eat or drink. Addressing your sleep problems will help you feel more alert and energised, benefiting the rest of your healthy living programme.
Stress occurs when you feel under too much emotional or mental pressure and cannot cope with it. It can be inhibiting to some people and motivational to others.
Many situations in life can cause stress, especially when at work, dealing with money problems and also within relationships.
Work related stress
Certain amounts of pressure at work can bring out the best in people, but when there’s too much, that’s when the problems start. Work-related stress can stem from getting little support from managers, in-office bullying or simply not having enough time in the day to complete all essential tasks.
This is where a health coach can support you with stress management techniques. The aim will be to create a sense of peace and happiness at work. They might be able to coach you through a career change, navigate through challenges like a company restructure or simply aid with motivation to do a job you may find difficult or you dislike.
Many health coaches believe that the first step in a good stress management regime is to learn to say ‘no’. Say ‘no’ to extra work when you already have enough on your plate, say ‘no’ to a social event if you feel you need some downtime and metaphorically say ‘no’ to work bullying – let HR or your manager know before it affects you further. Health coaches can help you rebuild your confidence to make this happen.
Stress management at business level
As stress affects businesses by a loss of productivity, increased staff turnover and absenteeism, a number of workplaces in the UK are implementing stress management techniques company-wide to counter it. The UK Health and Safety Executive estimate that 40% of sick days are believed to be related to stress. Health and life coaches can come in to businesses to help manage employees stress levels.
Your health is a key factor in your overall happiness and well-being, and shouldn't be neglected. As you can see there are many aspects to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and just as many ways a health coach can help.
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