What does being healthy actually mean

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I need to lose weight and be healthier but tbh I'm totally clueless and don't know where to start!

Everyone always says eat in moderation and exercise more but how does this actually translate? So limit UPF but how much UPF is ok? Eat more fruit and veggies, when? You can have treats but how many treats is enough? I was treated for an ED but I think I just went through the motions because I didn't understand it. The coach said I could eat a chocolate bar everyday and that would be ok, but would it actually??

There is so much advice that I don't know what to do. Count calories but don't deprive yourself / eat what you fancy but make sure you're eating the right things / diet food is bad for you but it's less calories so works for a deficit. Literally everything contradicts the other and now I don't even know what and when to eat!!

Replies

  • yirara
    yirara Posts: 9,655 Member
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    For weightloss it doesn't really matter when you eat, how often and what. However, what and when you eat can make weightloss easier or more difficult. What works for you is something you need to figure out as every person is different. A few weeks of experimenting are of no consequence in the long run. So try things. You could simply start with logging what you eat normally without a calorie deficit. Consider what food made you happy and what not. Keep more of that and less of the other, eat in a small calorie deficit and re-evaluate. Try new things and keep what works and ditch what doesn't.

    For health, what you eat plays somewhat of a role and moving more is good. But also, it doesn't matter when you do it as your body doesn't reset a counter come midnight and you've missed your chance to be healthy.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 33,085 Member
    edited February 9
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    I need to lose weight and be healthier but tbh I'm totally clueless and don't know where to start!
    Honestly, I think we kind of have to define "healthier" for ourselves. If you read here often, I think you'll find that people have different views, thus make different choices. For sure, you don't have to be totally and instantly perfect all in one jump. You can make incremental changes in your habits to find your own best, personalized balance.

    Everyone always says eat in moderation and exercise more but how does this actually translate? So limit UPF but how much UPF is ok?

    There are standard guidelines that can be considered and either adopted or modified to our own preferences.

    The mainstream guideline for exercise for health is to aim for about 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular (CV) exercise per week, ideally spread over at least 5 days of the week; or 75 minutes per week of more intense CV exercise; or a proportional combination. That, plus 2 days a week of some strength-challenging exercise.

    UPFs, quite a few people look at this as an 80% (or so) nutrient dense foods, 20%-ish things that are maybe more processed, treat foods, etc. That's rough.
    Eat more fruit and veggies, when?

    Again, there are basic guidelines, like a 5 servings per day minimum for veggies and fruits. Those are usually something in the range of half-cup servings of most things (US guidelines) or 80 gram servings (some other countries), with some variations in serving size for things like leafy greems. dried fruit or juices. But approximating is fine, IMO.

    When to eat them isn't that important: When they best fit into your day and your routine. Since they can be filling, you may find it easier to spread them through the day.
    You can have treats but how many treats is enough? I was treated for an ED but I think I just went through the motions because I didn't understand it. The coach said I could eat a chocolate bar everyday and that would be ok, but would it actually??
    I usually make sure I've gotten pretty good overall nutrition for the day, then eat some treat(s) if I still have calorie room for them. When I say "pretty good nutrition", I mean hitting a reasonable minimum of protein, some healthy fats, and a good number of veggie/fruit servings. But that's a personal definition I made for myself.

    There is so much advice that I don't know what to do. Count calories but don't deprive yourself / eat what you fancy but make sure you're eating the right things / diet food is bad for you but it's less calories so works for a deficit. Literally everything contradicts the other and now I don't even know what and when to eat!!

    Analysis paralysis is a thing. But humans are adaptive omnivores. Think about it: Our ancestors went through really difficult times food wise, and lived at least long enough to reproduce. We have super-fortunate conditions in the developed world, among those of us who are lucky. What we need to do for reasonable health is flexible, doesn't have to be perfect. Pretty good, on average, is fine.

    Best wishes!
  • frhaberl
    frhaberl Posts: 145 Member
    edited February 9
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    It definitely can be confusing, especially because each person's health goals can be unique and what it takes to achieve one person's health goals would be counter productive in achieving another person's health goals. I think a good starting point would be figuring out (with some advice from your doctor and/or well designed and reviewed research) what your health goals are. As an example, here are my health goals and what I'm doing to achieve them:

    Lower A1C into normal range: At least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (build up to this if you are mostly sedentary), at least 25 g of fiber per day, eat in a calorie deficit to lose 0.5-1% of my body weight per week until out of obese category and around 0.5% of my body weight per week until I get into the "normal" weight range. Limit added sugar to a sustainable level - this is where it gets more personal. I cut out all full sugar drinks and portion control any food that gets most of its calories from added sugar. I aim to increase the amount of fiber and protein eaten with those higher sugar foods, but I don't cut out anything that I can't see myself living without for the rest of my life.

    Lower cholesterol: Same as above, with an added focus on replacing some meats with higher saturated fats with leaner versions or fish or even some meatless meals.

    Lower blood pressure: All of the above, plus limit sodium (I don't consistently hit below the RDA, but I'm lower than I was before) and take blood pressure regulating meds (until I don't need them).

    Increase cardio fitness: All of the above, plus I include exercises that put me in a higher heart rate zone periodically - like adding spurts of jogging to my walk once walking doesn't get my heart rate up as high.

    Reduce visceral body fat (fat stored around internal organs that has been shown to carry higher risk of early death): All of the above plus managing stress and getting sufficient sleep.

    Improve mental health: All of the above, plus figuring out how much of the above I can do at once and not wreck my mental health. Working on acknowledging progress rather than expecting perfection, and recognizing when my efforts to improve my physical health are impacting my mental health.

    Improving my social health: All of the above plus recognizing my need for connection and where my pursuit of physical health is interfering with my ability to enjoy the company of others. Planning for connection opportunities that support my overall health.

    I think that once you understand which health goals you want to tackle first, it helps to filter out some of the noise and focus on what works for you. You can always add new health goals or shift focus, but be wary of taking on anything that leaves you counting the days until you can "get back to normal". The goal is to find the new normal that will not only get you to your health goals, but keep you there.

    I think @yirara has suggested a good starting point. Reducing portion sizes of the foods you already love to stay within a calorie target that no longer has you gaining weight can help you start to determine what foods you don't really miss and which ones you want to make room for in your long term diet adjustments. I also like the approach of "eat what you want, add what you need" which is what I am doing when I add protein and fiber sources to my sweet snacks. As you figure out what's working and where you're getting stuck, you can share with us and we can suggest additional tweaks.

    Best wishes!

  • Corina1143
    Corina1143 Posts: 3,233 Member
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    What is YOUR definition of healthy?
    What illnesses or conditions do you have that you'd like to improve?
    What illnesses or conditions run in your family that you'd like to avoid?
    Calories in versus calories out determines weight. After that, it gets more complicated.
  • ddsb1111
    ddsb1111 Posts: 845 Member
    edited February 9
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    I know exactly how you feel because I felt the same way, for a very long time. Time to get off the merry go round.

    You have to figure out your maintenance calories. And the only way to lose weight is using more calories than you consume. Some eat 250-500 calories less a day, some use exercise to burn that many calories, and others use a combination of the two.

    It. Is. The. Only. Way.

    Eat foods you love. That fuel you. That leave you satiated and energized. That make you happy. That combination you can stick to forever. Just make sure you have a small deficit until you reach your goal weight, then increase slightly to maintain.

    Honestly, that’s it. Sounds easy, but can be complicated (mental, emotionally) in practice… if we make it complicated. But, that’s it. This is your personal experiment to find that perfect equation of what healthy, happy meals look like.

    Your maintenance calories can be found easily with weighing and logging your food, weighing yourself, and following a weight trend. You can also use MFP or a TDEE app using your stats as a baseline.

    Anything else you read is likely noise to confuse and sell you something. Wishing you all the best in health and happiness.
  • neanderthin
    neanderthin Posts: 10,038 Member
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    If your the opposite of around 90% of Americans who have at least one, but generally many non communicable diseases and are mostly overweight or obese and you consume what most long lived people on the planet consume which is generally whole foods consumed with friends and family in your home, enjoy your career or your lot in life and are active involving sports and exercise and also involved and active within your community I suspect that could be considered a healthy life. Too many variables, but that seems to happen a lot in the long lived, which if your old is default for being healthier, but if you have to micromanage every aspect of your life including the foods your eating I suspect that's a pretty big hill to climb and where most people fail. imo.
  • CastleOfIce
    CastleOfIce Posts: 44 Member
    edited February 9
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    I think the 3 golden rules are:

    1. Eat as many whole foods ('the way God made them', as my grandmother would say) as much as you can sustain for a lifestyle, the more varied the better.
    2. Exercise often, in whatever way you find sustainable.
    3. Eat at a (healthy -- not more than 20% is ideal) calorie deficit if you need to lose weight.

    Beyond that, don't overthink it. If you've been treated for an ED it can be hard to have a healthy relationship with food so don't try to build too many rules into it.
  • tomcustombuilder
    tomcustombuilder Posts: 1,945 Member
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    I think the 3 golden rules are:

    1. Eat as many whole foods ('the way God made them', as my grandmother would say) as much as you can sustain for a lifestyle, the more varied the better.
    2. Exercise often, in whatever way you find sustainable.
    3. Eat at a (healthy -- not more than 20% is ideal) calorie deficit if you need to lose weight.

    Beyond that, don't overthink it. If you've been treated for an ED it can be hard to have a healthy relationship with food so don't try to build too many rules into it.
    this x 100

  • foldinthecheese
    foldinthecheese Posts: 27 Member
    edited February 10
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    You say you don't know what healthy means to you. But you also say you need to be healthier.

    So to try to find what healthy means to you, think about why you think you need to be healthier. I don't think "being healthier" is really the goal you're striving for.

    What will being healthier give you? Does it mean you'll live longer? Does it mean you'll be able to go for longer hikes? Does it mean you'll have better relationships with your friends and family? Does it mean career success? Does it mean becoming closer to your God? Does it mean waking up excited to start the day? Does it mean you walk into a bar and everyone turns their head to look at you?

    Once you determine why you want or need to be healthier, it'll be much easier to determine what you need to do to get there.
  • ReReNotMe
    ReReNotMe Posts: 63 Member
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    As others have been saying, health has many different meanings depending on your goals. For someone losing weight, I would definitely put consistency and function at the top of that list.

    I've worked as a carer for the past year on top of being a medical student. I can tell you that those who are mobile and are largely independent are those I would consider the healthiest (at least physically). For anyone regardless of weight, I would always keep that in mind, especially if getting older.

    I always try to focus on functional fitness. If you can improve your endurance, strength and flexibility you will notice daily activities becoming easier as well as improvements in mood, pain if that's an issue, and overall wellbeing.

    And of course, any change has to be consistent for it to have a positive impact on your health long term. There's no point losing weight by eating 1000 calories a day, cutting out everything you love because as soon as you start eating normally again you'll gain it back. If you gradually reduce portion sizes, replace high calorie/fatty/sugary foods with balanced meals you enjoy eating and making (and some occasional treats) and find some form of movement you enjoy, you will be able to keep that weight off for years to come.

    Again, it all comes down to perspective but I would definitely say to keep consistency and function in mind.

    Sorry for the long post. Hope it helps and good luck in your journey :)