Healthy and beautiful are synonymous. 

Nearly everyone has chased their perfect image at one time or another. Spurred by television, magazines and social media, we convince ourselves that we won’t be happy until we’re a lithe, alluring, knockout.

But here’s the truth… 

When it comes to overall health and happiness, how you look on the outside usually represents who you are on the inside. The secret to achieving the perfect you, relies on physical and mental health, as well as self-esteem and confidence. Here are twelve solutions to get you started enjoying a better you.

Find humor in your life.

Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny. As long as it is happening to somebody else.” That’s probably true. Put 7 billion people together on the same planet and something funny is bound to happen. But, people struggling with health or self-esteem issues rarely see the funny side of life. They’re too busy focusing on their problems to let humor into their lives. Try to let go of your inhibitions. Be more spontaneous. By releasing your hold on situations that you can’t control, the humor will begin to seep in.

Treat yourself like a friend.

When things are going your way, life is good. But, when we’re having a rough day, we’re quick to criticize and berate ourselves. Chances are, you’d never treat a friend that way. So go easy on yourself. If you’re having trouble throwing off the yolk of self-criticism, accept that it won’t last forever. Tomorrow’s another day.

Eat a well-balanced diet.

What happens when you put low-grade gasoline into your car?  It sputters and fails – and usually just when you need it the most. The same goes for your body. By eating a balanced diet of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and even adding a power protein smoothie to your breakfast, your body will run at peak efficiency. You’ll feel better about yourself knowing that you did something good for your body and mind. Be good to yourself. Eat well.

Exercise every day.

Thousands of years ago, people never worried about their weight. Largely, because they had to chase down dinner and wash their clothes by banging them against a rock. Fast forward to modern times, rolling off the couch to find the remote control is considered a workout. Research has shown that it’s important to include activity in our lives. Even if you’re not in the gym everyday (which you shouldn’t be anyway…more on that here), make a point to walk for 20-30 minutes a day. Every day. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Look for small ways you can add activities into your life. Like eating a well-balanced diet, getting exercise will do wonders for the way you feel.

Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night can seem like an impossible goal. There are so many other activities competing for your time. But, research has demonstrated a direct link between obesity and poor sleep habits. People who sleep well, tend to perform better in everything they do. If you’re not sleeping well, check with your doctor to see if there are underlying causes. If you’re shortchanging your sleep by trying to squeeze too much in the day, stop. The world will still be here in the morning.

Share your feelings with someone you trust.

Studies of people who live to be over 100 years old have shown that emotional expression is the most positive trait for well-being. People without a circle of trust, often compensate for their problems by overeating or other negative health traits. Talking things over with a friend or partner helps you to cast off negative feelings that can directly affect things like your weight.

Depend on your own definition of self-esteem.

Low self-esteem usually originates from negative feelings about ourselves and false conclusions we make about our lives. The easiest way to boost your self-esteem is to live your own life. Identify what’s important to you, and let others live their lives. Less than 2 percent of American women have the bodies of runway supermodels. Those who do, often suffer from physical and emotional disorders, trying to be someone other than themselves. Avoid comparing your life with someone else. Be yourself.

Focus on the things that make you happy.

As we get older, we often devote our time to getting straight A’s in school, graduating, climbing the corporate ladder…AKA, pursuing the American dream. Here’s a surprise: there is no American dream. So, carve out your own life, and include things that are important to you and not someone else. Make sure that you include time for play – activities that have no earthly value to anyone but you. If it’s been a while since you snow skied, put it on your list for this winter. Learn to bowl or get into pottery. Do things that make you happy.

Learn to live in the moment.

Most people’s problems lie in their inability to live in the present. We’re either remorsing over mistakes we’ve made in the past or focusing on a future we’ve yet to live. Put your efforts into living in the present tense. Reach out to friends. Look for ways you can make your life better today. One great way to begin living in the moment is to meditate. Spend 10-15 minutes in the morning, just relaxing. Try not to let your mind wander. If (and when) it does start to wander, bring your attention back to each breath you take.

Be happy.

Accept that being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” In other words, being happy is an inside job. If you’ve made up your mind to be miserable, no amount of people, places or things can make you happy. Start with simple things like your home or your pet. Maybe even your job. It’s as simple as that.

Find the middle ground in life.

We’re a competitive society. Most of us have been raised to accept nothing but the best: the best college, the best job, or the best restaurant. But, someone has to be a follower of leaders. We can’t all be on top. There’s nothing wrong with that. Learn to embrace doing a job, well done. There might be millions of people in the world that do the same things you do. But, nobody does them exactly the way you do. You’re unique. You’re one of a kind.

Stay engaged with the world.

There’s a new, popular term making the rounds: mindfulness. Mindfulness is the state of active, open attention to the present. It’s participating in the now, without judging it as being good or bad. You can take steps to enjoy your life every day. The next time you’re out on a walk, stop and take a moment to appreciate your surroundings. Give thanks for the moment. You’ll never have this one, again.

Health and beauty is an inside job. If you take steps each day to improve the way you live your life, you’ll not only feel healthier, but you’ll be more attractive to yourself. And, you’re the best judge of that.

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About The Author

Sara Jane Adkins is a writer, food-lover and mother. Founder of Natural Healthy Living, she inspires people to become more nutritionally conscious while still enjoying the foods that they love to eat. Her articles have appeared on Calorie Count, Share Care, Healthy Fit Natural, and the Chicago Tribune.

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