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Young, Single and Staying Sane

When you suddenly find yourself — along with 32 percent of other singles — living back home with your parents while you try to get on your feet financially and otherwise, improving your health (let alone keeping a healthy sense of self) can seem an unrealistic luxury.

For the first time in the modern era, living with parents is the most common living arrangement for young adults today. So for those who may have expected life to look a certain way by, oh, their early 20s, mid-20s, or even late 20s, there may be feelings of defeat in more ways than one. Given the unusual circumstances — which are now the norm — forming healthy new habits under an old roof may not seem ideal. (Truth be told, many young people aren’t sure what has seemed ideal up to this point).

This season of back-at-home singleness may feel inconvenient in many ways — and surely your folks would agree.

Getting and staying healthy can be daunting, especially when people aren’t dwelling in environments they can control. While many things in life may not be at a person’s discretion, health is one of the few things people have the ability to improve.

Regardless of age or vocation, when young people move back home they’re essentially stepping back onto the launching pad, to — they hope — soon reposition themselves in the wider world. Creating a healthy lifestyle will help engage them in disciplines that will naturally spill over into other areas of life.

While the opportunity of moving back home as an adult can be a blessing, it is also an adjustment after life in a college dorm or in an apartment. Living in a place that is no longer really one’s own can be hard. But everyone has the ability to be stronger, leaner, and happier. It just might be time for a healthy dietary separation from Mom and Dad.

Related: ‘Adults’ Still Live with Mom or Dad [1]

Here are a few suggestions.

1.) Eat Real Food
If a KFC meal of fried chicken with coleslaw and cornbread is your family’s idea of a great meal (not that it would hurt every now and then), it might be time to take up the art of cooking. When it comes to eating clean, Aussie health expert James Duigan put it best: “Cut the C.R.A.P.” That stands for: Cut carbs, Refined sugars, Alcohol, and Processed foods. That pretty much sums up the foundation of many Americans’ diets right now.

If eating whole foods sounds miserable, your taste buds are likely missing out. When you begin to eat a wide variety of seasonal foods, you’ll quickly find your palate for processed, sugary treats diminishes and you will easily slim down to your natural size.

2.) Maintain (Some Kind of) Structure
Given most young people’s diverse resumes today, for many the idea of structure is equivalent to trying to extract a painful splinter. You likely prefer going about your daily tasks organically.

But in order to see change in your body, some change is inevitable. If you keep eating the same things, you’ll keep feeling the same way. By creating a daily routine with activities that motivate you (and ideally get you out of the house), you’ll more easily be inspired to improve your fitness. Whether it’s taking a Pilates class or a boxing class or just going for a long, vigorous walk, you’ll be surprised how one hour can alter your perspective on the entire day.

3.) Consider Your State of Mind
When faced with undesirable seasons of life, you might frantically look for a way out or succumb to a defeatist mindset. Our brain has more of a direct impact on our health than ever. Negative thoughts will naturally affect any new pursuits — including your physical well-being. For a body that is strong and resilient, it must start in your mind and outlook on life.

Neuroscientist Hedy Kober, who studies the impact of mindfulness meditation, said in a Ted Talk not long ago, “It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body — it made it both stronger and more flexible.” The simple power of silence, meditation, and prayer, even if just for five minutes a day, can bring clarity and peace. (Personally, this writer enjoys using the Book of Proverbs.)

4.) Don’t Overcomplicate Things
Health should add calmness to your life — not problems. If you’re going to get healthy, give it an “identity.” Call it #Paleo, #GF, #Vegan, #Flexitarian, or #Whatever-rian. It’s fine and dandy to have a name for how you eat, but when a lifestyle forces you to omit entire foods groups and adhere to a limited, complex lifestyle, you will quickly lose interest.

The moment you begin to force a diet on yourself or dread a grueling workout is the time to step back, tune into your body, and reconsider your approach. (Life has enough complexities already.)

This season of back-at-home singleness may feel inconvenient in many ways — and surely your folks (and maybe your younger siblings) would agree. Yet if you can find your way to a healthy lifestyle here, you can find one no matter where life takes you next.