“Things aren’t always what they seem”

Healthy – what does it mean to be healthy? It’s a concept with several layers and it can mean different things to different people.

To some, being healthy means exercising regularly. To others, it means eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Regardless of how you define it, virtually everyone wants to be healthy, and many people actively try to be healthy every day. The problem comes when those so-called “healthy choices” actually aren’t. It’s really easy to buy into habits, foods, and advice that appear healthy on the surface but are the opposite.

Here are five common mistakes people make when they’re trying to be healthy:

The best part of waking up

The best part of waking up

1. Skipping Breakfast
A big part of being healthy is achieving an ideal weight. On occasion and for some people, this could mean dropping a few pounds. One way to do this is cutting down on calories. So why not get started first thing in the morning by cutting out breakfast? Stop – bad decision!

Opting out of breakfast has a ton of negative consequences. Those doughnuts in the conference room? They’ll be a lot harder to resist when your stomach is growling by 9 a.m. Skipping breakfast also tricks you into thinking you can have an unnecessarily big lunch. You’ll easily make up the 200 to 300 calories you “saved” at breakfast by supersizing or splurging on fries. Plus, when you forgo calories early in the morning, you miss the opportunity to kickstart your metabolism for the entire day.

Start your day with oatmeal and fruit or toast and peanut butter. Think of those 200-300 calories as a smart investment in your day!

2. Eating Salads
Before I go further, I’ll clarify the two parts to this concept: 1) Eating unhealthy salads and 2) Eating nothing but salads.

Salads full of spinach, veggies and a little protein are great – as long as they’re not caked in fatty dressing. Also, eating a smart salad for lunch is a wise choice – just don’t feel guilty about pairing it with a cup of soup, piece of fruit, almonds or Greek yogurt. One cannot live on salads alone!

3. Juicing
It seems this is the newest “healthy” trend and people are going absolutely nuts over it. But juice blends and smoothies don’t automatically equal healthy or smart for a diet plan.

First, when fruits and veggies are blended for juices or smoothies, the skin is typically removed – that fiber-filled, nutrient-packed skin. Second, just like alcohol and soda, juice and smoothies are liquid calories. Sure, a smoothie is going to give you nutrients and isn’t empty calories. But whether they come from eating or drinking, from a smoothie or a doughnut, calories are calories. Many people forget this and don’t account for the extra calories being taken in with juice blends or smoothies. You could wind up going over your daily calorie budget even though you’re trying to be healthy.

The best way to get your daily fruits and veggies? Eat them!

4. Forgoing Weights
Cardio has a ton of benefits – it burns calories, increases endurance and is good for your heart. For someone trying to be healthy, cardio is the obvious, easy choice and it absolutely should be part of your weekly exercise plan. But if your philosophy on exercise is “cardio only” you’re missing out big time.

Weight training needs to be part of a balanced exercise program. More muscle typically translates to a faster, more efficient metabolism – meaning the body burns more calories when it’s not doing anything at all. And, especially as we get older, weight training can reduce symptoms of diseases like diabetes and arthritis. Plus, it kinda makes you feel like a badass when you can lift heavy things.

5. Going Too Low
Similar to skipping breakfast, the concept of cutting calories to lose weight can do more harm than good if you go too extreme. Everyone’s daily calorie needs are different. Factors like current weight, activity level and basal metabolic rate determine your unique calorie needs. Dropping too low below your daily calorie needs can throw your metabolism out of whack and send your body into starvation mode.

The most general rule of thumb is to never go below 1,200 (for women) and 1,600 (for men) calories a day. Figure out your needs (you can find sites online that can at least provide a ballpark) and be conscious of staying in a range that’s not overeating yet not starvation. But don’t get too caught up in it – remember to enjoy life too!

Did you learn a so-called “healthy” habit or yours actually wasn’t? Any more you’d add to this list? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.


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