Being healthy is a lifestyle, not something you do for an hour a day or a magic pill you take with your meals. Building a healthy lifestyle can be a bit of a challenge and, if you don’t know where to start, it can be a little bit overwhelming. In theory, it sounds like it should be easy to just start living healthy “all you have to do is eat healthy and exercise”… I wish! If it was that easy then more people would do it. What a healthy lifestyle really boils down to is habits. If you can start by developing healthy habits, then you will be well on your way to having a healthy lifestyle. Lately, I’ve been researching the habits of athletes, nutritionists, and people who are just all around healthy and happy. From this I was able to put together my list of 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People:
Habit 1: Physical Activity
I’ll start simple with the first habit: being healthy involves a certain degree of physical activity. This doesn’t even have to be strenuous activity like a crazy long run or insane gym workout. Just get off your butt and move around for at least 3o minutes a day for 5 days each week. Find an activity you enjoy like dance, yoga, parkour, etc. and commit to doing it. Even if you can’t get out of the house for whatever reason you can still get up and do household work for 30 minutes. It’s that simple.
Habit 2: Sleep
For some reason this one seems to catch a lot of people off guard. It might just be the “GO! GO! GO!” mentality of our society or the desire to one-up our friends in terms of how busy we are, but for some reason people love to brag about how little sleep they get! Unfortunately, all of those all nighters you may be tempted to pull for work or to finish that school project are actually terrible for your health. Proper sleep patterns are crucial for healthy metabolic function. Adults should aim to have 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
If you’re one of those people who spends 8 hours in bed a night, but half of that time you’re just rolling around unable to sleep there are some things you can do to help.
- Exercise. As it turns out developing some healthy habits will actually help you to develop other healthy habits. Regular physical activity can help lower your stress levels and help to tire you out.
- Stick to a Schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sometimes getting to bed on time can be a bit of a challenge (“I’ll just watch one more episode on Netflix…” ) but it can help your body to set its internal clock and help you get to sleep sooner and also help you to wake up feeling refreshed.
- Avoid Bright Lights. In the summer months it can be difficult to fall asleep when it’s still light out at 10:00pm. However, the sun isn’t the major culprit I want to talk about here. As it turns out, our screens are having an effect on our sleeping habits! Try turning off your TV, laptop, and phone an hour before bed. Not only will this help you to unwind, but you won’t have those lights interfering with the production of melatonin, which helps you sleep!
Habit 3: Address Addictive Behaviours
Everything in moderation. Being healthy is about finding balance (something I have personally struggled with quite a bit). Figure out what you are doing in excess; maybe it’s watching TV, eating, playing video games, or it can even be something like exercising! Once you’ve identified addictive behaviours, try to determine what your triggers are and then address them. Depending on the severity of your situation, it may be worth seeking professional assistance. In less severe cases you can tackle these on your own but it will require you to be very honest with yourself.
Habit 4: Be Mindful
Another issue we face in modern society is that we are either wrapped up in the present or in the past, we seem to not pay much attention to this little bit of time called the present. It is in this moment where life is actually happening. There are many different ways in which you can practice being mindful. Meditation is always a great way to do so or even something as simple as naming 3 things a day that you are grateful for. These practices are a great way to alleviate any negative feelings.
Habit 5: Laugh
This one might be the easiest habit. We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine and it’s true! Learning to laugh, no matter the situation, can be a positive coping strategy and it relieves stress and anxiety. It also triggers a release of endorphins. If you want to start your day off right, smile when you wake up. It may seem silly, but it makes a world of a difference.
Habit 6: Grow Your Muscles and Increase Your Flexibility
Strength and flexibility training are both important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you need to become a bodybuilding contortionist by any means. But, there are many benefits to both of these. Strength training protects your joints and as we reach the age of 30, we tend to lose 8% of our lean muscle mass per every ten years. Flexibility training can help reduce injuries as well. Before you begin to do strength training it is important to have a good range of motion first.
Habit 7: Food
I had to save the best for last! When it comes to healthy habits, healthy eating can be the trickiest, or at least that’s how it’s been for me. The trick with healthy eating is to increase your portions of healthy foods and decrease your portions of less healthy foods. To be clear, I’m talking about portions here, not servings. Portions are the amount of food you have on your plate whereas a servings are the precise amount of food. I can put a whole cake on my plate and while it is one portion, it is quite a few servings.
The other thing to keep in mind when developing this habit is the quality of your food. Not all calories are created equally! Some calories aren’t packed in with additional nutrients, so they are essentially “empty calories” where as other calories are packed in with vitamins, minerals, fibre, proteins, and good fats. When choosing your foods try and focus on the nutrients that are associated with those calories rather than just the number of calories themselves.
Building the Habits
They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. In reality forming or breaking habits can take anywhere from 18-254 days. Either way, your in for the long haul. Focus on starting small and taking it slow. It is important to build a strong foundation. Without this you will get caught in the cycle of starting over (as I have done numerous times). The important thing to remember is that this is a lifestyle and that there really isn’t a finish line or a destination; it’s just how you live your life. You’ll also need to figure out what works best for you. Some people break bad habits by quitting them cold turkey while others need to wean themselves off. There’s no right way of doing it. If one approach doesn’t work for you, don’t think that you’ve failed, just try a new approach. 254 days from now you can look back at this moment and feel proud to see how far you’ve come and see what you have overcome!
Thanks for taking the time to read my post! If you have any other habits you’d like to add to the list feel free to leave a comment! If you’d like me to elaborate more on one of these habits let me know! I could write a whole post on any of these!