Look around you. Success leaves clues. People who are super-healthy don’t leave it to chance, or genes.
And even if you have a great genetic background, you can turn genes on and off just by your habits. Studies on identical twins show that genes express differently when influenced by diet and exercise, and this new science is known as epigenetics.
People often comment on my hair, skin and energy, which again I attribute to genes (at least on my mom’s side). However, on reflection I realize I have some really good habits which I don’t even think about anymore. They are part of who I am.
And I’d like to share them with you. So here goes, the 7 Habits of Super-Healthy People.
1. The first healthy habit is eating whole food. I rarely eat processed food and when I do, it doesn’t taste good, and it certainly doesn’t feel good later. It is the fuel that will sustain you, and if you have ever eaten a meal, and were still hungry, chances are you didn’t get enough of the nutrients you need. Meal planning is the way to make sure you are eating whole food regularly.
2. Drinking enough water is the second healthy habit. Staying hydrated, especially as you get older, is important to your metabolic processes, to remove toxins from your body effectively, and keep your thinking straight. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you weigh 160lbs, drink 80 ounces. I start each day drinking (1) glass of water before doing anything else.
3. Move throughout your day. If you work in an office environment, or even from home, and spend much of your time in front of a computer, schedule regular breaks in which you get up and walk around, stretch, and connect with others. You need breaks to keep your focus, and that includes going for a walk at lunch, if you can manage it. You will be amazed at how easily your day will flow. Use your phone to set a reminder.
4. Sleep 7-9 hours each night. Yes, that is right. You need to sleep soundly for that length of time to benefit from the healing properties of sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to many unhealthy conditions, such as weigh gain, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and even depression. A good sleep habit is grounded in going to bed at the same time each night, and getting up at the same time each morning, including the weekends. There are other habits which set you up for a good night’s sleep, which are included in this sleep audit. Give them a try.
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5. Explore meditation as a way of quieting the mind. Or, at least, take a few deep breaths, when feeling stress or panic. I have found that meditating each morning, right after I drink my glass of water, and before I have my coffee, has a profound effect on my focus and mindset for the day. If you are leery, take a few deep breaths like I said. Most of us don’t breathe deeply enough and this exercise slows you down, gives you an awareness of how shallow your breath is, and makes you more present. Give it a try. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4, and hold for 4 seconds, 3 times in a row. Now how do you feel?
6. Did you know that most of us are fairly sedentary? Yep, and we are always amazed when we start packing on pounds in middle age. We think it is only hormones, but it is habits too. The best way to stay active is to have a routine. It doesn’t have to be intense, it just has to be consistent. My plan is walking most days, right after work. It clears my head and settles me down before heading home. I have started to incorporate a light jog into my walk, after I have warmed up, and I do this throughout. Walk, jog, walk, jog. Bonus, I get done faster and get my heart rate up without too much trouble. I think I can count it as HIIT, right?
7. Incorporate some strength or resistance training in your routine. Did you know that from age 30, we start losing muscle mass at a rate of 3%-5% per decade, most of this again due to a sedentary lifestyle. We can maintain our muscle mass by using weights to create resistance, and the good news is you only need to do this 2-3 times per week. The benefits of maintaining your muscle mass are not only how much better you will look and feel, but also the fact that muscle burns more energy than fat. The more lean muscle mass, the more calories you are burning.
Of course, there are many more healthy habits than these. You probably have a few healthy habits of your own. These are my top 7 and have served me well.
If you are not feeling particularly healthy right now, don’t despair. Just pick one habit, and start with that. It takes 21 days for you to form a habit, and 90 days to change your lifestyle.
If you feel stuck, please consider joining my 21- day group challenge that runs next in June. And if you are ready for a real lifestyle change, I have the 90-day Vitality program that you can start anytime. If you want to know more about either, contact me.