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We all want to be healthy. We all want to have lean and energized bodies that look and feel good, right? However, everyone knows it’s not that simple. You can’t just snap your fingers and live a healthy lifestyle. When you’re focused on school, your career, or whatever life throws at you, how are you supposed to find time to exercise regularly and eat mostly healthy foods? It seems impossible, especially when you’re a broke college student like me. Not so fast.

Leading a healthy lifestyle honestly starts with your mindset, not your body. There are a few ways to change that nasty feeling of dread when you think about the gym, or a boring salad. You don’t have to have a strict plan that changes your life drastically—but you do have to want to begin the road to a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few guidelines to help you figure out where to begin.

Know what real food is

You can’t start eating healthy until you know what is actually healthy. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing what you are putting into your body. The food industry today is honestly pretty corrupt, labeling things as “natural” and “healthy” when they are actually quite the opposite. In my mind, the only truly nutritious things on the market are things that either came out of the ground, or things that naturally occur in our world. Anything in a package (even if it’s a fruit or vegetable) probably has some sort of chemical or preservative to make it appealing so that you buy it. While it’s a bit unrealistic to exclusively eat unprocessed foods at first, just try to cut down on the obviously fake foods you buy.

This may seem simple, but just look around on the internet for some healthy recipes and ideas for snacks when you are in a hurry. If you make even just a few healthier choices throughout the week, I promise you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel. Make a few meals and snacks ahead of time so that when it’s time to eat, you don’t have to stress about making an extravagant meal. It doesn’t have to be as hard as you think! Most of the progress you want to make fitness wise all happens in the kitchen. The things you eat will take you so much farther than spending hours killing yourself in the gym, so start with food.

Get some exercise

This one is the hardest for me. Just dragging myself to the gym is honestly the hardest part, and once I’m there, I just think about how inexperienced I am and how silly I must look trying to be athletic. BUT in reality, who cares? I look better than the people sitting on the couch, right?

You don’t even have to go to the gym. The internet has become an amazing tool for physical fitness, let me tell you. Look up yoga videos, a butt workout, or even a short cardio circuit to get yourself moving each day. Sometimes they’re not even very long, but you will feel the results, believe me. Even doing this three times a week will help you immensely.

Another great thing to do: find a workout buddy! Doing pretty much anything with a friend is better than doing it alone, plus your friend will be able to motivate and encourage you to reach your goals and keep going when you think you’re tired.

Look here for some cute gym outfit ideas, because obviously.

Take care of your mind too

To be healthy doesn’t solely mean taking care of your physical body. Keeping yourself happy mentally is the overall most important thing you can do. This can happen in a number of ways—going out on a Monday night wearing red lipstick with your friends, staying in and doing your favorite face mask alone, or even drinking a whole bottle of wine to yourself (we’ve all done it). Anything that allows you to relax, let loose, or just keep you sane is not a chore. Put yourself first.

Being a healthy woman is important for your physical and mental health. We can’t be boss babes if we’re not taking care of ourselves, right?! Put on some lipstick, and put yourself first. It’s that simple.

Ask Lauren

Do you have something on your mind beauty and lifestyle related? Ask me in the comments, and I’ll have an answer for you next week in my column! Don’t be shy, I’m up for the challenge.

Xoxo –