Have you ever sat back and wondered what made you different than the people you see out running on your morning commute, or those leaving the gym while you’re heading in to your favorite coffee shop for an afternoon pick me up? You have the desire to be healthy, so what gives? The answer is simple. They’ve simply developed and honed a few healthy habits that you haven’t yet. But there’s good news. It’s not too late, and there’s no time like the present to start.
Healthy people aren’t healthy just because they push themselves to be physically active everyday. Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be as active as possible, but there is are many more healthy habits than simply working out daily that you should focus on. Did you know that when it comes to fitness, only 20% of your total fitness is accounted for by your workout? That means that a whopping 80% comes from your diet alone.
Have you ever heard someone say that you can’t outrun a bad diet? This is exactly what they were talking about.
Healthy habits don’t begin when you wake up, and end when you go to bed. It is a twenty four hour, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year, kind of thing, because even the amount of sleep that you get factors into your overall health. Read more about how to get better and longer lasting sleep in our REM Sleep article. It explains everything from why you need more sleep, to how to get a few extra zzz’s per night.
Unless you are living a cohesively healthy lifestyle that includes adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and plenty of physical activity there’s a good chance that you’re suffering from energy deficiencies. These deficiencies can come from any number of poor health choices, and are worsened when multiple factors are incorporated together. Boosting your energy with energy drinks, coffee, espresso, soda, candy bars, or other sugary substances is a quick solution, but not one with long lasting results, and often ends in a sugar crash that leaves you even more exhausted than you were before the sugar intake.
The best way to increase your energy, is to improve your health, and the best way to improve your health is by taking an indepth look at the way you’re living, and altering your unhealthy habits into healthy habits. Here are the top four habits that healthy people possess that you may be lacking, and how to incorporate them into your lifestyle.
1. Be Cognizant Of Your Food Choices
Healthy people do not diet, at least not in the traditional way that you’re thinking. They are however actively cognizant of what they choose to eat. Becoming mindful of the food that is entering their body and beginning to feel the physical difference of eating well, is how healthy people often begin forming their own healthy habits. Since this becomes a way of life rather than a temporary alteration of their eating habits, the choice of healthy foods over unhealthy foods is not considered a diet.
Incorporating healthy food choices into your everyday diet starts at home, before you ever step foot in the grocery store. It starts with a shopping list. Rather than aimlessly wandering down each grocery aisle and grabbing whatever looks good at the time, try to make a grocery list of items that you need. If you can manage to avoid writing down processed foods, not only will your nutritional intake be healthier, but you’ll also spend less time at the grocery store. This is because you won’t have to spend time reading nutritional labels to determine which item has more essential nutrients, and less chemicals.
Being actively cognizant of the foods that you are choosing doesn’t mean that you can’t ever eat foods that are unhealthy for you. It simply means that you abandon your unhealthy habits of snacking aimlessly throughout the day, and you are instead mindful of the nutrient deficiencies and additional calories that you’re indulging in when you deviate from healthier options. There is a leeway with active nutritional awareness that doesn’t exist in diet plans, or fad diets.
To solidify this habit try keeping a food diary and document not only what you eat, but how your body and mind feels after eating. You will become more aware of which foods work best with your own body, and which to steer clear of for optimal performance and energy.2. Observe & Document Your Progress
Remember the fitness model that we explored at the beginning of this article, the one that stated that what you eat accounts for 80% of your fitness and exercise accounts for 20%? Well now that we’ve discussed daily dietary intake, it’s time to explain how healthy people incorporate healthy habits into their exercise routines.
Once a nutritionally balanced diet is established and an exercise routine has been started, healthy people do something that the average person often doesn’t even think about. They begin to monitor their overall physical performance and energy levels. Those focused on improving their health, rather than just maintaining or worse, ignoring it, often work to push themselves past their comfort zone just to see what their body is capable of.
This is by no means a suggestion to ‘go big or go home’ right from the start, as that’s a great way to cause serious and occasionally permanent injuries. Healthy habits that monitor your progress in a safe way include: attempting to lift heavier weights than your daily exercise routine includes, experimenting with walking, jogging, or running longer distances than you normally do, or stretching your muscles just a bit farther than you’re used to in your yoga class. These activities should only be performed two to three times per month, to accurately gauge your fitness levels, and less often immediately upon adding intensity to your normal routine.
It’s important to allow your body time to adjust to your new regimen before you push it to improve, otherwise you could end up injured and out of commission. Remember that healthy habits form over time, not overnight.
3. Embrace Your Setbacks As Motivation
Persistence, Perseverance, and Patience. These are qualities that you’ll find in healthy people, and ideals that you’ll want to incorporate in your own life if you want to succeed in adopting healthy habits. As explained before, being healthy is not a temporary goal, it is a lifestyle that needs to be pursued daily. Results will not happen overnight, and this tends to discourage the vast majority of the population, but being able to persevere through periods of stagnation and overcome plateaus is a huge part of what separates those who live truly healthy lives, and perpetual dieters.
Healthy people do not let the troubles of their daily lives turn into excuses as to why they can’t workout. They instead turn their struggles and setbacks into the very driving force, and reason behind why they must workout. It becomes the fuel to their fire as they pursue their health and fitness goals. This steadfast dedication is a hard dividing line between those who take health seriously and those who dabble with the idea of being healthy.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t skip a day, or that when you indulge in an unhealthy meal you have to punish yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally. It just means that you have to use the exhaustion, and the setbacks to motivate yourself to stick with your healthy habits and push yourself forward in the accomplishment of your goals. You won’t always get it right, and sometimes you’ll fall flat on your face, but if you truly want to live a healthy life you can’t let those times keep you down. It’s important to understand that perfection doesn’t exist when it comes to health and fitness, and that the only way to improve is to keep trying.
While it’s important to set goals so that you can measure your progress, it’s also crucial to understand that there is no definitive end to work towards. Fitness is a journey, and health is a daily and lifelong commitment that you make to yourself.
4. Spice It Up & Keep Moving
When things start to get stale with a health and fitness routine, some people want to throw in the towel and stop pursuing their goals, but healthy people push forward and push past their comfort levels towards new and exciting healthy habits to keep them excited in their pursuits. If their normal routine includes heavy cardio exercises they may choose to switch it up with some strength training, or if the majority of their workouts involve lifting weights they might incorporate some cardio instead.
The most important thing to remember when you’re adding new healthy habits into your lifestyle is that you need to choose things that excite you. Keep in mind that exercise comes in all shapes and sizes. Any type of physical activity can quality as exercise if you put even a moderate amount of effort into it. If you like nature try hiking, if you love music take a dance class, if you miss having a social life incorporate your friends into your activities and help them form healthy habits too.
People forget that anything that keeps you moving and increases your heart rate is exercise. They tend to think that unless they’re in the gym and pumping iron, they aren’t increasing their physical health, but the truth is that playing with your kids, cleaning your house, building things with your hands, and even simply walking, counts as exercise and will increase your fitness level, if only marginally.
Remember that there is no shame is starting small and building slowly towards your goals. Just keep up with your healthy habits and incorporate new and exciting challenges for yourself when you start to plateau.
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