8 Daily Habits to Maintain Your Health

At 26 years old, I weighed 186lbs.  I currently weigh 135lbs.  Over the course of 5 years from age 26 to 31, I lost over 50lbs and I have kept it off for the last 7 years.  Over the years, a lot of my clients have asked me for my “secret” or praised my discipline and focus, but the truth is, I am just a regular person, trying to make healthy choices, one at a time.

Setting big goals is great and necessary to progress.  However, I find, it is the small, daily choices and actions that help us move towards being the healthy person we all want to be.  Small changes over time, lead to the big changes we are ultimately after.

My success is due to my consistency in making those healthy choices.  I take every day and every choice one at a time.  I try to make the best choice each time, sometimes I fail, but I only allow myself to think of the choice in front of me, not what I did earlier or what I might do in the future.  This is the “secret” to successfully becoming the best version of yourself.

Over the years, there are healthy habits I have tried to make part of my daily routine.  It makes them feel more regular, something not special or hard to do each day or that I have to remember to do.  I just set an expectation and choose a place or specific time to plug it into my day.  I attach the new habits I am trying to form to  already established routines, like brushing my teeth or letting the dog out, so that it becomes easy to move from one thing to the other.

If you are trying to “get healthy” try adding one new habit from the list below.  Take your time, moving one day at a time.  It does not matter how long it takes you to get towards your goal, just as long as your are moving in the right direction, getting better with each day.

Here are 8 things I do everyday to maintain my health:

  1. Drink 16oz of water as soon as I wake up.  Drinking water first thing in the morning, after your body has been “fasting” for the past 8-10 hours is one of the best things you can do for your organs.  It can also make you “crave” water throughout the day which acts as a little reminder to keep yourself hydrated.
  2. Move.  I move every single day.  It does not mean I workout everyday, but I move.  This could be as small as a 15 minute stretch session or a 4 hour bike ride or anything in between.  The important thing to me is to use my body each day.  To move it in ways it was designed to move.  Walk, jog, jump, lift, play – do whatever feels good to you.
  3. Give myself time.  I HATE to rush and I don’t like being late.  In order to avoid this, I wake up earlier than I need to which means I go to bed earlier than I need.  I want enough time in the morning to talk with my husband, pet my dog, make my breakfast and prepare my lunch, and even take in some news or answer emails.  I want to enter my day prepared and organized, not scattered and overwhelmed.  If waking up an extra 20-30 minutes earlier is what I need to do, that is fine by me.
  4. Eat my vegetables.  I try to eat some sort of vegetable at every meal and snack.  I put spinach in my eggs in the morning, usually have some sort of salad at lunch, and prep roasted vegetables for dinner.  If you are trying to eat healthier, stop thinking about what you need to take out of your diet and start adding vegetables in.  It will automatically make you eat less junk, crave better food, and smooth out your blood sugar spikes.
  5. Reflect.  I don’t always have time to meditate or even sit still, but there is always time to reflect.  Sometimes I only have time on my drive into work.  I turn the radio off, think about my day and what challenges I may encounter, and start to think of solutions to any problems that may occur.  Again, I like to enter the day calm and prepared.  10 minutes of “prep” can go a long way in helping me make clearer decisions and prioritizing my responsibilities.
  6. Read.  I like to read, so this is easy for me, but I didn’t always like to read.  If you are not a reader, it is an acquired taste, like coffee.  It may be something you don’t enjoy at first, but after a while, you look forward to it.  Reading helps us get out of our “bubble” and exposes us to alternate places, schools of thought, and people.  It is an easy and convenient way to expand your mind.
  7. Take a probiotic.  I take a few supplements like Vitamin D and C and others, but the most important for a healthy gut is going to be a good probiotic.  A healthy gut leads to a healthy immune system, higher energy levels, better food processing, and more.  It is a very easy thing to add in to your daily routine.  Consult with your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician to find one that works best for you.
  8. Sleep.  No shocker here.  I have talked about it on my podcast, I have written about it, I take slack for the fact that I have been known to go to bed at 830pm.  I need sleep to function and perform at my best.  I work with clients on a one-on-one basis who deserve my full attention and my full brain power and there is no way I can give it to them if I am sleep-deprived.  On top of that, getting an adequate amount of sleep helps lower stress, blood pressure, and improves your focus.  Get the sleep you need, so you can be your best the next day.

When making changes to your regular routine, add a little at a time.  It is too much to demand of yourself changes in multiple areas.  Pick one habit you want to add in to your daily routine and give your self 1-3 months to get it established before moving on to the next habit.  Remember, it does not matter how fast you move towards your goal, only that your are moving in the right direction.

 

Strong and Balanced – Sleep

A few days ago I had the honor of seeing Arianna Huffington speak at a conference I attended.  One would expect a lecture from her to review best business practices or how to lead the pack, but in this particular speech, she went a little more personal and spoke of the everyday boundaries she sets so that she can take care of herself.  This got me thinking of my own self-care practices and what I hold most valuable on a day-to-day basis.  The number one thing that came to mind…SLEEP.

I value sleep over food, workouts, and even showers.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I am miserable to work with, to live with (ask my hubby), and I don’t make great decisions. And those are just the things that I notice right away.  Lack of sleep can also lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, memory loss, and more.  1 in 3 Americans do not get enough sleep (according to the CDC).  This is not surprising when we add the stress of our daily lives with the stress of what happens if we don’t sleep!  It is too much.

So, our only solution is to find ways to trick our bodies, to create routines, to set ourselves up for sleep.  We need to give it the same respect and attention we do to brushing our teeth or showing up to our job on time.  We need to start adjusting our days and the amount of work we take on so that we can get the sleep we need to be our best selves.  For those of you who are rolling your eyes and think you are too busy, read this article about Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, getting 8 hours of sleep.  If he can do it, so can you.

Here are my favorite “Hacks” (disclosure: not hacks at all, just good ol’ fashion advice) for sleep:

  1. Respect your sleep time.  Treat sleep like you would an interview, a job, an appointment.  Heck, put it on your calendar if you need to.  Set up your day and your obligations where you are allowing enough time for your Zzzz’s.  Cut social events short, leave emails unread.  The world will keep spinning, I promise.
  2. Establish boundaries. Do this with your work, your screen time, and your obligations to others.  Make sure you have a cut-off point at night and a start time in the morning.   Allow time in the morning to think about what you want from yourself and what you want to accomplish that day before checking your phone to see what the world wants from you.  At the same time, create time in the evening to reflect on your accomplishments, your successes, and what you were grateful for that day (if you make it from sun-up to sun-down with clothes on your back, you can find something to be grateful for each day).
  3. Move and engage your mind everyday.  Our bodies and minds are meant to be used.  If we slack off on utilizing one or the other, it will probably keep us up at night.  Make sure you are challenging yourself physically and mentally for at least part of your day, so that you can power-down easily at night.  PS – if you want to get both done at once, try the Strong Balance Class Home Video.
  4. Focus on quality not quantity.  While performing your tasks and obligations throughout the day, make sure you are focused.  Start and end projects without allowing yourself to be distracted by email, phone, or social media.  When you do something, go all in.  You will get more done in a smaller amount of time and will feel more accomplished and satisfied at the end of the day.
  5. Set yourself up for success.  You can not get home at 11pm and expect that your body will be able to settle down by 11:01pm.  On the same note, you can not play candy crush or browse your Facebook page till it is time to turn off the lights and then fall into a state of blissful rest.  Have a routine to get the screens out of your life at least 30 minutes before you want to go to bed.  Absolutely no screens in bed.
  6. Make your bed the most heavenly place on earth.  What makes you feel comforted and snuggled?  Soft sheets, fluffy pillows, lavender scents?  Whatever it is, spare no expense.  Make your bed super dreamy so that you can not wait to jump in at the end of the day.

Check out my podcast below for more tips on how to get a perfect night sleep.