“We are the sum of our actions, and therefore our habits make all the difference.” (Aristotle)
I’m going to share the 3 main daily habits that have changed my life on many different levels – physical, mental, emotional – and can change your life too! They are very effective, practical and on a budget. If you’re interested, keep reading!
I’ve been on a wellness journey for years now, figuring out what works best for me and my body. I experimented, adjusted, simplified habits to fit my ideal lifestyle. Because one thing I’ve learnt is that habits are difficult to change, so they need to be simple enough and fit easily into one’s lifestyle. The easiest way to make any transformation is to start with microhabits – small actions that can impact your life positively. And compounded over time, these small, atomic habits can lead to spectacular results.
Most importantly, I tried to back my habits up with science.
So let’s dive right in!
There are 3 main pillars of a healthy lifestyle: food, exercise and sleep.
Number 1. I eat quality, nutritious food every day.
You are what you eat. And you cannot run like a Ferrari if you’re fueled with cheap gasoline, right? You need quality food.
Eat your daily veggies! I eat at least 2 to 3 servings of brightly colored fruits and veggies every day. I eat mostly what is in season and fruits and vegetables of different colors. Eat the rainbow! On a plant based diet, variety is key, which means I try to include a variety of fruits and veggies of different colors and with different nutrients and health benefits.
If you’re a beginner, the easiest way to add greens or more plant based food to your diet is smoothies. You just need a blender and your fruits and vegetables of choice, and voila, you’re done in 10 minutes! It’s great for busy mornings or when you just want to simplify your lifestyle. It’s a great entry point to start eating healthier and the best part: you can make this habit easily stick since it is simple enough.
Vegetarian diets have also been shown to support health including a lower risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and help increase longevity.
You will also notice increased energy levels, better skin texture, better weight management, better mental clarity and focus, among many other wellness benefits.
Remember, you cannot run like a Ferrari if you’re fueled with cheap gasoline, right? Eat your greens and eat the rainbow!
Number 2: I go for a walk outdoors (almost) every day.
Move your body, in any way and as much as you can – is another healthy habit you need in your life.
You don’t need to prepare for the Olympics or the next marathon to stay healthy and fit.
Moderate physical activity includes taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking the dog in the park, parking your car within walking distance to have the opportunity to walk more, doing a few stretching exercises after a stressful day, cleaning your home, gardening. You can easily integrate these activities in your daily or weekly routine, without additional effort, just awareness to prioritize some daily physical activity.
I go for a walk outdoors (almost) every day. I find it’s such a big mood booster to get some fresh air, sunlight and vitamin D from the sun. I also feel that walking boosts my energy levels and give me better focus and mental clarity. For me, exercise needs to be part of my lifestyle, so I found the easiest way is to walk. I’m not a gym person – I used to be, but I found that walking is an easier habit to stick to. I do this effortlessly. I also do some stretching exercises – they are great especially as I tend to spend long hours at my desk.
I also tried swimming, hiking and going to the gym – but I found it difficult to be consistent with these activities. For me, walking works best.
How much exercise do we need to stay healthy and fit?
According to the World Health Organization, healthy adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity during the week. The more, the better, but we need at least 30 minutes of of daily physical activity. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done on 2 or more days a week.
If you want to lose weight too, increase the frequency and intensity of the exercises. By increasing the metabolic rate you burn more calories.
So number 2: be physically active! Move your body, in any way and as much as you.
Number 3: I get quality sleep every night.
Quality sleep (yes, think of it with a premium label) is very important, because that’s when your body “repairs” itself. A lot of processes are restored during the 7 to 8 hours’ night sleep. Liver cells renew themselves every 6 months. Research suggests that our whole bodies replace themselves every 7-10 years.
So yes, you’re potentially a “new” person every decade.
But to facilitate this (and also reverse the inevitable aging process), we need to create the proper conditions. When our bodies are in balance, diseases don’t have the fertile ground to nourish themselves (weeds cannot grow in a garden that has been taken proper care of).
It’s true that in the long run, genetics plays its role too. But people are not reduced to their genes.
While this internal body architecture is complicated, our bodies are natively intelligent, despite the rather slow process… think millions of years of evolution!
In the end, we need to focus on creating the right conditions for our health. Our bodies’ native intelligence will play its part too.
Now, in my late 30s, I’m in a very good relationship with sleep. It’s a very economical and effective medicine. Ideally, I go to bed before 10 p.m., but not always. That’s because science suggests that we get the best sleep before 12 a.m.
Ideally, I should try to go to bed at the same hour every night, but since I’m human it’s not always possible. I try to do my best to go to bed as early as possible though. When I get quality night sleep I feel more energetic, with better mental clarity and a positive attitude towards life.
“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” Benjamin Franklin once said.
It’s true that many successful people wake up incredibly early typically at around 4-5 am, but you don’t have to if it does not work for you. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, strive to get the 7-9 hours of quality night sleep – this is the sweet spot. Allow your brain to rest and your body repair itself.
Why is getting enough sleep so important? Sleep enhances your immune system so you’ll get sick less often, helps with better weight management, lowers your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease, boosts your mood and energy levels, reduces stress and allows your brain to think more clearly, and yes, potentially makes you smarter since it improves the mental connections.
Did you often feel that getting a good night’s sleep makes us feel ready to take on the world? Me too!
So make healthy sleep a priority. There’s no better time to start the journey to improving your sleep.
Pro Tip: Invest in a high quality mattress.
These are my top 3 habits for a healthy life, I hope you enjoyed the article. Please let us know in the comments below what one habit changed your life in a positive way.