How to Be Healthy and Skinny

Four Parts:Defining Your GoalEating HealthyGetting ActiveHaving a Healthy Lifestyle

Being and healthy and staying thin is a broad goal. It will most likely involve smaller goals targeted in different areas of your life (like your diet or exercise plan). Although being healthy and skinny is a great goal to work towards, healthy is not always synonymous with being skinny.[1] In addition everyone has a different body type - some are tall and lean while others may be shorter and somewhat stockier even though they're still considered healthy. It's important to maintain your health and an appropriate weight for you. If you would like to live a happy, healthy lifestyle, as well as stay slim and feel confident in your own skin, you'll need to adopt a lifestyle that supports these goals. Healthy eating, regular exercise and remaining committed to your healthy lifestyle, can help ensure that your body remains both healthy and trim.

Part 1
Defining Your Goal

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    Talk to your doctor. Regardless of your health goal, you should always talk to your doctor prior to changing anything about your diet, exercise plan or lifestyle. He or she will be able to tell you what's appropriate.
    • If your goal is to get healthy and maintain a healthy weight, ask your doctor for his or her opinion about what you may or may not want to change. For example, as them about your current weight, cholesterol levels or blood pressure. He or she may recommend certain changes based on your current health.
    • As you continue to improve your health, maintain or lose weight and make other changes to your lifestyle, keep in touch with your doctor so he or she will know if there is any changes to your health.
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    Determine a healthy weight. Getting skinny might not coincide with your goal to be healthy. Not all people who are "skinny" are considered healthy. Instead of aiming for skinny, aim for a healthy, appropriate weight.[2]
    • Many times, those who are skinny are actually too thin or underweight. This may put you at increased risk for infection, disease, osteoporosis and other medical conditions.[3]
    • To find a healthy weight for you or your ideal weight, you can search online for a calculator that will give you a weight based on your age, gender and height.
    • You can also use your BMI or your body mass index to find out whether or not you're at a healthy weight. If your BMI is between 19-24.9 you're considered at a healthy weight.[4]
    • Use one or more of these tools to decide if you're currently at a healthy weight or need to lose weight. Use this information when forming more specific goals.
    • If you're currently at a healthy weight but still want to feel thinner, consider using cardio and strength training to help trim and tone your body.
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    Write out multiple goals. Getting healthy and aiming for a healthy weight is a broad goal and one that will most likely take a variety of changes on your part. Be more specific with smaller goals. [5]
    • Writing out several smaller and more specific goals can give you a more realistic set of goals and a more detailed idea of what you need to do to meet those goals.[6]
    • Try separating out your goal into categories first. For example, you might make a few goals in the following areas: diet, exercise and general lifestyle.
    • Examples of more realistic and detailed goals would be: Lose 5 pounds in 2 months to help reach a healthy weight for my height, age and gender; exercise 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes; or decrease my alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks weekly from my current level of 5 drinks weekly.
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    Write out a plan. A plan will help you chart your journey to meet your goals. Whether or not you use a meal plan or exercise plan, these can serve as guides on your way to be healthier.
    • A meal plan is a great place to start. This will help you reach goals that are related to your diet and weight. Write out a weeks worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and beverages. This will give you a guide for grocery shopping and take the guess work out of healthy eating throughout the week.[7]
    • An exercise plan may allow you to schedule in exercise throughout the week. It can help you visually see when, where and what type of exercise you'll be doing each day.
    • Keep your plans on hand. You may want to change or adjust them as you get closer to your goals or your goals change over time.

Part 2
Eating Healthy

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    Calculate how many calories you need daily. After detailing your goals, you may want to come up with a calorie limit for yourself each day. This can either help you lose weight or maintain your current healthy weight.[8]
    • Every person needs a different amount of calories each day to keep their body working and functioning at an optimal level. Changing the amount of calories you eat each day can help you reach a variety of different weight goals.
    • If you've decided you need or want to lose a little weight, aim to cut out about 500 calories daily. This generally results in about a 1-2 pound weight loss each week.[9] This is a slow, steady and safe rate of weight loss that will coincide with your goal to be healthy.
    • If you'd like to maintain your weight, you can find an online calculator that uses your age, gender and weight to determine a estimated amount of calories that will support weight maintenance.
    • You may want to consider using a food journal or journal app to help you count and track your daily caloric intake. This will allow you to see if your current calorie level is helping you meet your goal (either weight loss or weigh maintenance).
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    Eat regular, consistent meals. It's important to eat regular, consistent meals throughout the day. Skipping meals or going too long between meals is not considered healthy and can lead to unwanted fluctuations in your weight.[10]
    • There are a variety of eating patterns that you can adopt and fit into your current lifestyle. However, at a minimum, it's generally recommended to eat at least 3 meals daily. However you may find it easier or more desirable to eat 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day.
    • Start your day off on a good start by eating breakfast. Studies have shown that those who eat breakfast typically maintain a healthier weight. It gives you a good start to the day and provides you with the energy to focus throughout the day.[11]
    • In addition to scheduling in regular meals, you may also want to schedule in the occasional snack. Snacks will help you transition from one meal to the next when there is over 4-6 hours between those meals.[12]
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    Eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet will help support a healthy weight and healthy body. In addition, this type of eating pattern will provide your with all the essential nutrients it needs to function well each day.[13]
    • A balanced diet means you're eating foods from each food group: protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains. Each food group offers your body a wide range of nutrients.
    • In addition, make sure you eat a large variety within each food group. Choose a variety of protein sources and different colors of fruits and vegetables.[14]
    • Avoiding entire food groups or large quantities of foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies.[15] Unless you have a food allergy or other medical restriction, do not make any foods completely off limits.
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    Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods should make up a rather large part of your diet. Both of these food groups provide some of the most nutritious and nutrient dense foods you can eat.
    • Fruits and vegetables are widely know as "healthy food." This is because they are fairly low in calories and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.[16][17] They provide your body with a large quantity of the required essential nutrients.
    • Most nutrition professionals recommended eating 5-9 servings daily or making half of all your meals and snacks a fruit or a vegetable.[18][19]
    • Although fruits and vegetables are healthy, still stick to appropriate serving sizes. Eat 1/2 cup chopped or 1 small piece of fruit or 1 cup of vegetables or 2 cups of leafy greens or salad.[20][21]
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    Go for whole grains over refined grains. Another way to add more nutrition and health benefits to your diet is by choosing 100% whole grains over refined grains.
    • 100% whole grains are minimally processed and include all 3 parts of the grain: germ, endosperm and bran. Together, these parts of the grain offer you more fiber, protein and B vitamins.[22]
    • There are a variety of whole grains to try including: quinoa, millet, brown rice, 100% whole grain bread and pasta or oats.
    • Refined grains are those that are highly processed, are lower in fiber and other essential nutrients. Examples include: white rice, white bread or pearled barley.
    • Again, follow appropriate serving sizes for grains which are about 1 oz or 1/2 cup cooked.[23]
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    Choose lean proteins. Protein is an essential nutrient to a nutritious diet. Protein provides the building blocks for your body to do a variety of essential functions each day.
    • Protein is important for: provide structure and support for cells, bind and carry molecules throughout the body, and provide the building blocks for bones, muscles, hair and organs.[24]
    • Choose lean protein sources when possible. They are lower in fat and calories and can help support a nutritious diet and healthy weight.[25] Also choose appropriate portion sizes which are 3-4 oz or about 1/2 cup.[26]
    • Choose lean sources like: poultry, eggs, lean beef, pork, legumes, tofu and seafood.
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    Include healthy fats daily. Although a high fat diet isn't considered healthy, some dietary fat is essential for a well-balanced and nutritious diet.[27] Choose to include heart-healthy fats to include in your diet.
    • Dietary fat plays a variety of roles in your body including: aiding in vitamin and mineral absorption, provide energy to your body, helps provide insulation and supports healthy skin and hair.[28]
    • It's important to choose sources of dietary fats that will support your health and not adversely affect it. Choose omega-3 fats or monounsaturated fats instead of trans-fats and saturated fats.[29]
    • Sources of healthy fats include: nuts or nut butters, olive oil and olives, avocado, salmon, tuna, mackerel, chia seeds and flax seeds. Include 1-2 servings of these each day.[30]
    • Trans-fats have been shown to adversely affect your health by decreasing your HDL (good cholesterol) and increasing your LDL. They're typically found in processed foods like candies or pastries.[31]
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    Don't drink your calories. Beverages that are high in calories and sugar can lead to weight gain which can have a negative effect on your health.[32] Limit these types of beverages and stick to hydrating fluids instead.
    • Aim for at least 8 glasses of hydrating fluids each day. You may need up to 13 glasses of water daily depending on your age, gender and activity level.[33]
    • Stick to clear, hydrating fluids like: water, flavored water, unsweetened and decaf coffee and tea. These are the best for maintaining your hydration status.
    • Drink milk and 100% fruit juice in moderation. Although both contain some worthwhile nutrition, they still count towards "liquid calories." If you're watching your total caloric intake, do not forget to track any liquid beverages you consume.
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    Avoid highly processed foods. Boxed or processed foods are generally considered not very nutritious.[34] Limiting these foods can help you improve or maintain your health in addition to supporting a healthy weight.
    • There is a large variety of processed foods that include both nutritious items and unhealthy choices. Processed foods even include those that have gone through very minor changes to be ready for consumption.[35] Although bagged pre-washed spinach is considered "processed," it's still a very nutritious food to eat on a regular basis. However, a frozen TV dinner is much more processed and also unhealthier from all the added sodium and preservatives.
    • Minimized the highly processed foods that have added sugars or fat, or are high in fat and calories. Limit items like frozen TV dinners, sweets and pastries, crackers, chips, pretzels, processed meals and canned meals.
    • If you currently rely heavily on highly processed foods, slowly make your way to more whole, unprocessed foods. Consider cooking more at home and making some foods from scratch instead of buying them pre-made.

Part 3
Getting Active

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    Aim to get more than two hours per week of exercise. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is an essential component to a healthy lifestyle. Include at least 2-3 hours weekly to help you maintain good health. [36]
    • There are a large variety of health benefits associated with regular aerobic exercise including: improved sleep and mood, decreased risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, and increases your changes of living longer.[37]
    • Go for moderate-intensity activities like: fasting walking/jogging, swimming, using the elliptical, doing an aerobics class or dancing.
    • A gradual increase gets the best results, since it gives your body the time to adapt and make progress. It also may help you prevent injury or overuse pains.[38]
    • Also, you tend to burn more calories if you exercise in the morning.[39]
    • Make sure to keep yourself hydrated while exercising by drinking plenty of water.
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    Add in strength training. Cardio offers your body a variety of health benefits. However, when combined with regular and consistent strength training, you'll see even more health benefits.
    • Strength training is great to help improve bone density, decrease your risk for osteoporosis, increase or maintain lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism.[40]
    • Most fitness professionals will suggest adding at least 1-2 days of strength training each week for the most benefit.[41]
    • A variety of activities can count as strength training. Try lifting weights or using weight machines, doing isometric exercises (like push-ups or crunches), or doing classes like yoga or pilates.
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    Move more during the day. There have been a variety of studies that show those who move more throughout the day or have a high level of lifestyle activity may see similar benefits to those who only do planned or structured physical activity (like going for a 30 minute jog).[42].
    • Lifestyle activities are those that you do on a regular basis or as part of your lifestyle. For example, walking up the stairs to your apartment, doing the laundry or raking the leaves all count as lifestyle activity
    • These types of activities do not necessarily burn a lot of calories or provide the immediate health benefits of structured activity, however as they accumulate throughout the day, they do make a difference for your health.
    • Walking around the house, to work, college or school, or to get to other places, such as a friend's house. Do more household chores like gardening, mowing the lawn or raking leaves. Take the stairs more often.

Part 4
Having a Healthy Lifestyle

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    Get adequate rest. Outside of diet and activity, there are a few other things that will support your goal of being healthier and maintaining an appropriate weight. Getting adequate sleep each night is a very important part of your goal.
    • Those who don't sleep enough or do not sleep well are at increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition when you don't sleep well its difficult to focus and concentrate during the day and have increased sensations of hunger and craving for higher carb foods.[43]
    • Health professionals recommend getting in about 7-9 hours of sleep each night.[44]
    • If you're having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, talk to your doctor immediately. It's not safe to go too long without sufficient or restorative sleep.
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    Manage stress. Like sleep, stress also plays an important role in your health. When stress is not managed or not managed well, you may experience negative health effects.
    • One common effect of stress is weight gain. Your body secretes more cortisol (a stress hormone) which makes you hungrier and makes it more difficult to lose weight.[45]
    • In addition to weight, excess stress can cause: headache, chest pain, fatigue/exhaustion, upset stomach, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings.[46]
    • Manage stress by participating in activities that relax you. Try: talking to a friend or family member, listen to music, meditate, read a good book or magazine or take a short walk.
    • If you're having difficult managing stress on your own, consider seeking professional help. Many mental health professionals and coaches can give you the guidance and tools you need to manage the stress in your life more appropriately.
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    Quit smoking and minimize alcohol. Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have been show to have a large quantity of serious side effects on your health. Both should be eliminated if you want to be healthier and maintain a healthy weight.
    • Smoking or use of any tobacco products has been associated with a variety of negative side effects including: lung disease and cancer, heart disease, stroke, cancer of many other organ systems, decreased immune function, decreased fertility, increased risk mouth and gum diseases and increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.[47]
    • Quit smoking cold turkey or ask your doctor for help. He or she may be able to give you a medication or refer you to a smoking cessation program.
    • Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with: high blood pressure, stroke, a variety of liver diseases, pancreatitis, weakened immune system and cancer.[48]
    • Limit alcohol to 1 glass or less daily for women and 2 glasses or less daily for men.[49]


  • Talk to your doctor prior to making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
  • Make sure to drink a lot of water. Water will help you keep hydrated, energized, and fuller for longer. If you don't like the plain taste of water, drink mineral water. Avoid soda and other drinks as these only dehydrate you.

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Categories: Nutrition and Lifestyle Eating