What is a healthy lifestyle? Truly now? Is it to scale every food you want to it? Or is it starving in between meals? Or is it simply to feel good about what and how you live your life?

I vouch for the latter.

There is a lot of misconception in today’s world that being part of a healthy lifestyle means going all out and either depriving yourself or over-exercising in order to ‘look perfect’. Coming from a person who did it all, I can assure you that those things will not bring you a happy lifestyle. Let me give you some tips on how to make put fitness, nutrition, and overall wellness into your life without going all out. Tiny changes is where it’s key.

The first step is to motivate yourself on a daily basis.

Excuses are part of our everyday lives, especially when it comes to working out or losing weight. We always seem to have that little voice in our head that says, “let’s start Monday!” or “I ate healthy yesterday, I can indulge in a bit today,” but just because they are present doesn’t mean that we have to listen to them. We all know that mental strength is what we really need to work out when we want to get on the journey of health. Here are a few tricks that might help you self-motivate and stay healthy.

Write down weekly goals.

Every beginning of the week, may it be Sunday or Monday, write down what you want to accomplish this upcoming week. Divide the week up in days and every night draw a green or red dot on the goals you accomplished that day and the goals you will need to work on the next. This will help your mind to stay focused on what you want. It will also create competition within yourself to be better than the day before, which will keep you on your toes.

Create a vision board.

In this vision board, write down your daily, weekly, and monthly goals to see everyday when you wake up. Write down motivating quotes that will boost you in the morning. Put pictures of inspirational people and your favourite quotes from them. Put anything you find inspiring and motivating, just make sure that you see the board every single morning and evening before you go to bed. I would suggest putting in your bedroom. The psychology behind the vision board is the habit it creates in your brain. By seeing motivating quotes everyday and visualizing your goals on a daily basis, your brain makes a habit of working on them. If you see “I can do it!” everyday, your brain will start believing that you actually CAN do it and your motivation will spark up right away.

Create a motivation playlist and listen to it everyday.

Listen to this playlist before you work out and while you workout. This will help you get out of your pyjamas and into your work out clothes. Listening to upbeat music will also wake you up in the morning or in the evening when you come back from work.

Keep a weight loss and/or fitness journal.

Every night, before you go to bed, write down five wins of the day. If you decided to eat an apple instead of an ice cream, write it down. If you decided to work out 30 minutes instead of going to drinks for the third night in a row, write it down. Everything you a proud of for that day, put it in the fitness journal. Also write down what your three project wins for the next day are. You can write down that you wish to run 35 minutes tomorrow instead of thirty. Anything that can be positive in your fitness journey, put it in writing.

Most importantly, keep believing that you can do it and don’t listen to people who put you down.

They are not the ones on your journey, which is also why you shouldn’t compare yourself to other people.

By motivating yourself, you will see that small changes will happen. By seeing your progress skyrocketing you will just want to keep going. You don’t have to leave the gym looking like a wet swimmer, but you do have to go. You do have to pick up some weights and run a little faster every now and then. The Seven Wonders of Life were built by men, and you know what? It took a very long time and a lot of small rocks to build them. Today, people use man-made machines to build buildings, and it does take less time but it will never be as wonderful as the Seven Wonders. Just remember to keep going! Everyone has their own journey, so start creating yours!

Most of all though, understand that setbacks do happen and they are normal.

I am the perfect example of imperfection. I lost 50 pounds in 3 months while going to College on a full-time basis and trying to figure out what I wanted to be later on. Imagine my despair as I woke up at 5am every morning to go to the gym and make it to my class two hours away from my house. I was extremely motivated though, so I didn’t care… until I did. I started feeling tired, unmotivated, and decided to focus on being an 18 year-old instead of a gym rat. I gained all the weight back (plus some) within a year. Do you think I was depressed? Yes. Should I have been? No. It took me a long time to realize that setbacks are OK, and when I did I started being motivated again. I went to the gym more, I became vegan, and I lost all the weight again. This is a healthy lifestyle, not a competition on who is staying skinny the most. Although it’s very important to maintain a healthy weight, and not fluctuate massively like I did, if you have a few bad days or months don’t let it get you down. Even the greatest have eaten pizza on a Sunday, but it didn’t make them a bad person.

A healthy lifestyle is a healthy mind.