This post was actually a suggestion from my roommate. I was washing dishes while she worked on her laptop at the kitchen table, and she started reading me an article titled “6 Habits of Healthy People.” The habits they listed were ones that could promote health, but not necessarily what I would list even among the top 10 suggestions for getting and staying healthy.
So what would I suggest?
Well, that’s exactly what my roommate asked. And she took it a step further: “You should write your own list.” Yall know I love to tell people how it is, so…here’s how it is.
5 Habits of Truly Healthy People
I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Sleep is just as important to your health as your workouts and nutrition. When you chronically get less sleep than you need – either in quantity or quality – you gradually build up a “sleep debt,” which is really hard to erase. This means you get further and further run down, feel more and more like you’re wading through molasses each day, and struggle more and more to find the energy for silly little things like doing your job or being a good friend or kicking ass in your training or buying and cooking good food. You know. Just stupid crap like that which has no impact whatsoever on your health, physical fitness, mindset, or overall wellbeing. Who needs to have the energy to keep up with all that? So definitely don’t make sleep a priority. [For those of you who may be sleep-deprived as you read this – that was sarcasm. Now go to bed.]
2. stop getting your health info from facebook
At this point I actually get excited to get on facebook because it means I get to see what ridiculous “mind blowing discoveries” people want to share from their latest favorite “guru.” Guess what? Most “gurus” are fear-mongers with some decent web-design abilities. I cannot emphasize this enough: Look at facts when you are making decisions about what is or is not healthy/safe to eat/do/wear/use. Do no let an idea that feels icky/scary/unhealthy keep you from analyzing the facts (i.e. real research done using real studies conducted by real scientists published in real, credible sources.) about what actually is or is not safe/healthy.
And for the love of all that is good, stop saying that something is bad for you because “it has so many chemicals in it.” All physical matter is made of chemicals. Yes, even your organic, non-GMO, sustainably-harvested, free-trade carrots. So if you do nothing else, remember that a food “having chemicals” is a neutral statement, and does not in and of itself make a food (or cosmetic, or cleaning product, etc.) unhealthy or unsafe.
3. get more sunshine
We all want the D. (Vitamin D, ya filthy animals.) Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and the reason is that most of us are indoors most of the day. We miss out on the sunshine, and without it, our bodies cannot produce vitamin D. Supplements are a good option (especially if you are already diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency – talk to your doc about getting tested), but so is “supplementing” in the most basic way – by letting yourself get a little more sunshine. Heading outdoors has the added benefit of boosting serotonin levels  in your brain (which means your mood improves), and when you’re outdoors you have the opportunity to do something active and play….
4. play more
How often do you enjoy movement? Not just in the sense that you feel good after a workout, but you actually are thrilled in the moment. This is movement for the sake of the movement and the experience, not for the sake of a workout. Maybe for you it’s hiking, maybe it’s paddleboarding, maybe it’s practicing handstands and arm balances, maybe it’s pickup basketball, maybe it’s chasing your dog along the beach, or maybe it’s going out salsa dancing. Whatever it is, find some kind of movement that awakens that childlike sense of exhilaration in you…that is play. It’s good for the body and great for the soul. So play hard, and play often.
Finally, keep it simple. Way too many people who are health conscious end up self-sabotaging by overcomplicating every aspect of their lifestyle, from the food they eat to the exercise they do to the apps and gadgets they use to track it all. People either end up with “paralysis by analysis” (overcomplicating a matter so much that the result is inaction rather than meticulous execution) or missing the forest for the trees (putting too much thought/effort into minute details that yield far less ROI than the same investment of thought/effort into the bigger picture). Before you start worrying about details like organic vs. conventional, vegetarian vs. vegan, HIIT cardio vs. steady state cardio, master the basics. Eat good food, and enough of it. (Chronic hunger is not the laurel of first-world martyrdom that some make it out to be.) Move your body in ways that challenge your muscles and your lungs. Give your body enough rest, and when it’s been run particularly ragged, give it even more. Play often, laugh hard, be generous, respect yourself and others, and count your blessings.
My challenge for yall this week would be to pick one of the above habits and start implementing it. Today. Right now.
Personally, I’ll be working on sleep. Having roommates again makes it really easy to stay up far later than I should given how early I have to get up for work…but at the end of the day, it’s just a matter of having the discipline to shuttle myself off to bed at a reasonable hour.
Now tell me…
Which of these habits will you be working on this week?
What habits do you already have that help you stay healthy?