How to get happy & healthy today in Central PA

By Anne Long
For Linglestown Gazette

We all want to be the best version of ourselves: happy and healthy. But, we might not know where to start making the change, especially if we’ve been stuck in a cycle of eating out, snacking on too many tasty treats, and not taking care of ourselves. It’s easier than you think, though!

First, it’s deciding that you want to make a change. Then, it’s the food. After that comes the exercise. It’s really that simple, but it takes some work.

If you’re still unsure, let me give you some tips and resources to help you get healthy, today!


Many people are surprised to find that exercise, while it does help, only counts for a small portion of health. The majority of what determines how healthy we are is the food we put in our bodies. This is also the hardest aspect of health to change. That’s why, when we make a resolution to be healthy, we should have a plan of attack in terms of diet.

The best thing to do is to eat clean – meaning food with a few, simple ingredients. These are whole foods, fresh from farm to table, and meals made exactly how you want it to be, by your own hands without any additives. This can be hard to stick to, especially when there are so many tasty treats calling your name at the grocery store.

Here are some local and quick resources that will make it easier to stick to that happy and healthy grocery list.

Farmer’s Markets

Strites’ Orchard is a great place to get local, fresh produce. You can even bring the family to help gather it! The orchard offers a “U-Pick” schedule where you and whomever can come and pick some of the in-season produce they offer. For a bigger selection, just pop into the store and bakery. More often than not, they will have fresh fruit and vegetables at a cheaper price than the grocery store. And, it’s a good way to support local farmers and operations.

They’re located at 1000 Strites Road Harrisburg, Pa 17111 and are open Mon-Fri: 8am – 7pm / Sat: 8am – 5pm / Sunday: 11am – 4pm.

Health Food Store

The Healthy Grocer located in Camp Hill has so many options that will satisfy all cravings and desires! Inside, products are certified organic, non-GMO, and tailored to fit your diet and health goals.

There’s the Healthy Deli – where you can get wraps, sandwiches, and smoothies made to order. Right next to it is a cold case with ready-to-eat, grab-and-go dinners, dips, sides, salads and sandwiches. Their bakery selection sports sweet treats with only organic and natural ingredients – making them a healthier take on your traditional desserts.

They also have two aisles dedicated to vitamins and supplements that help support deficiencies. Whether you need some more Iron or Vitamin D supplements, a multi-vitamin, protein powder, superfood powders, or hormonal therapies, they have them. Just to the left of the supplements is a small, select section of organic produce from local farmers. This takes you toward the back where they have bulk bins for days. They even have a gluten-free baking aisle!

I come here for all things vegan and specialty – either when I’m in a pinch, or just want to order a smoothie.

The Healthy Grocer is located at 3800 Trindle Road Camp Hill, PA 17011and is open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday 11am to 5pm.

Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest

When I first started changing the way that I was eating, I quickly realized that healthy options weren’t always available. That meant that when I was looking for my next meal, it would most likely have to come from my own hands. The thought of cooking was daunting, especially considering how complicated recipes could be. Thankfully, though, there’s Pinterest!

This social media app uses pictures to represent all kinds of products, blog posts, websites, etc. When you click on a “pin” you get taken to the website where the pin is linked to, if it is linked to one. This was invaluable for when I was looking for simple, easy recipes. There are so many!

All you have to type into the search bar is “easy healthy recipe”. Pinterest then finds pins that match your search and even offers more keywords to help you narrow down your results.

Using these recipes I found, I was able to get better at cooking and trying my hands at recipes in the kitchen. My family even got involved; they loved having someone cook for them. Since then, we’ve slowly been making healthier meal choices.

Meal Plans

If finding recipes and trying to decide what’s healthy and what’s not is too stressful for you, there are eBooks and programs out there that often come with shopping guides and meal plans to help you kick start a health journey.

I only recently started experimenting with my diet beyond just being vegan. After finding inspiration from some vegans on YouTube and how they were eating, I decided to try them. I began with adopting a high carb, low fat diet, using HighCarbHannah’s eBook Lean and Clean. Then, I experimented with a more balanced diet, using KateFruitFlower’s eBook Freedom Food. Both of these eBooks came with shopping lists and day-by-day meal plans and recipes to use. (I actually reviewed Freedom Food on my blog – alonglifesite.)

While I experienced different physical results on the meal plans, I found that not having to think about choosing or planning my next meal and meal prepping was incredibly relaxing for my mind. Plus, following a plan made it easier to eat clean and healthy because that’s all that I would buy at the grocery store. And, all the recipes were delicious – if they weren’t I didn’t make them again.

Final Tips:

  • Before you decide to change anything about your diet, do your research and then stick to
    your decision.
  • Stick to the grocery list you make and don’t deviate from it.
  • Give yourself a short timeline to start with: two to three weeks. After that, try a month or two. It takes about 21 days for habits to start forming and results to show.


Once you tackle the kitchen, it’s time to get moving. I know that a lot of people complain about exercise. They just can’t find the motivation, or they hate running, or it’s too hot outside. But, that’s not an excuse. Changing requires discipline, and there are so many forms of exercise that there has to be one that appeals to you.

Fitness Classes

Another way to jumpstart your health and wellness journey is to exercise. And, exercise doesn’t always mean going to the gym, or playing a sport, or running. It could mean attending fitness classes.

Over the winter, at WebpageFX, there would be a boxing class run by a Thrive Fit Co. trainer. These classes got me moving in a different way than running did, and I got to try out some new exercise that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Plus, it was a free trial. Some gyms offer similar deals. This also includes yoga studios, if that’s more your thing.

Thrive Fit Co. is a boxing, group fitness, and bootcamp fitness company that will soon be opening a studio in Harrisburg.

Running Programs (C25K)

If you’re looking to get into running but aren’t sure where to start, I would highly recommend this app! C25K stands for “Couch to 5k” and it’s a running program that uses interval training three days a week to help you work up to running a 5k (3.1 miles; roughly 30 minutes straight). The app provides a warm-up walk period, run period, and cool down period, while signaling with sound and voice commands when you should start and stop. It’s extremely user-friendly and it instilled a goal and sense of accomplishment in me after each workout was completed. Plus, it’s free.

I loved it so much, that I went on to the next progression: 10k Trainer, which does the same thing except it works you up to running a 10k (6.2 miles; roughly 60 minutes straight).


Free workouts from high intensity interval training (HIIT), weight-lifting, Pilates, circuit training, to yoga … if it’s fitness, it’s on YouTube. My favorite channels are Yoga by Adriene and MadFit. Using the videos, you can watch and then write down the workouts to do yourself. Or, if you don’t want to do exactly what they are, then you can write down your favorite exercises to make a program that’s customized to your interests and goals.

Public Places and Spaces

Once you have your method of exercise picked out, it’s time to find a place to do it. Whether it’s walking or running, you have plenty of options to choose from.


I like going to parks to get out in nature, especially when I’ve found I’ve circled my neighborhood one too many times.

Wildwood Nature Center in Harrisburg is about a 3.1 mile loop of Wildwood Lake. It’s where my mom and I like to do long, hilly walks. In the winter and spring, my dad and I would come and do a running loop along the boardwalks. He also likes the lakeside trails for running. And, we’re not the only ones. Many runners, walkers, and bikers are out here with us, getting their exercise in.

Boyd Big Tree Preserve (pictured) with its iconic view from the electric lines is a great place for a hike. Just over Blue Mountain Parkway, this state park has 12 miles of hiking trails. You can combine trails for a longer hike, or just stick to the shorter ones if you like.

Riverfront Park along Front Street in Harrisburg is also a great place to find fitness folks. Sure, there are many people walking their dogs, going for a jog, and biking; but there’s also fitness stations as you get closer to Uptown. The steps down to the river also let your take a canoe or kayak out for a spin. And, the trail goes all the way down to Phoenix Park, over the old railroad. But, if you don’t want to go too far, stop at City Island and take a swing at the batting cages or go for a round of mini golf. It’s a great way to get the whole family involved. And you can’t beat the view from the river.

Final Tips:

  • Start slow. Don’t do more than your body is ready for.
  • Do workouts that you love. You don’t want to feel like you’re forcing yourself to
    workout. The best way to stick to an exercise routine is to enjoy it.
  • Don’t expect immediate results. You’re not going to see changes overnight. They need
    time, like habits, to develop.


You can make changes on your own, but you have a better chance of sticking to a plan when you get others involved and have their support.

Get the Family Involved

Unless you want it to be, changing your diet and exercise doesn’t have to be lonely. Now, don’t force it on your loved ones, but ask them if they would like to cook with you, try a new recipe for dinner, go on a hike or a walk, or go for a run with you. Not only will you be changing yourself for the better, you’ll have someone there to hold you accountable and – possibly – make a lifestyle change, too.

Facebook Communities

For running, food, and fitness, there are thousands of Facebook groups and communities to join. Some are local, others are national, but they all fill the support you might be lacking from the people in your life. Not everyone wants to change or understands why others might want to
change. The important thing is to not let their misunderstanding affect your decision to improve your health and wellness. Eventually, they will come around. But, until they do, there are others
far and wide there to push and motivate you. You only have to reach out.

From there, you may discover running groups, or free fitness classes that are offered in your
community. I know that for the summer, there was free yoga outside Broad Street Market in
Harrisburg on Saturday mornings. Because I followed Broad Street Market on Facebook, they let me know when the events were happening.


No matter how many resources and tips I give you or that you find, the ONLY way to achieve
your health goals is through YOU. To get the results, you have to put in the time and the effort.

So, my last tip for you is to SCHEDULE.

Sit down and schedule time to go out and buy only the healthy groceries on your list (only what’s on the list).

Schedule time to meal prep if you’re busy during the week. Plan out your meals and write them

Schedule time to work out – build a run, walk, hike, or gym session into your days.

Finally, schedule time to give yourself all the love and appreciation you deserve.

Now, get out and start living your happiest, healthiest life!

This entry was posted in LIFESTYLE on by .

About Anne Long

Anne Long is a writer, born and raised in Harrisburg, and student at Shippensburg University set to graduate this winter with a Bachelors degree in English. In addition to writing, she's an avid reader, runner, gym-goer, and coffee addict. You can read more of her work on her blog: and you can follow her on Facebook at Anne Long - Writer and Blogger and Twitter and Instagram @anne.eliz.long.