Every year people make New Year’s Resolutions to either lose weight, quit smoking, or exercise more. According to a recent research study, 55 percent of New Year’s Resolutions are related to developing healthy habits. I will admit, I am one of those people, I make the attempt to incorporate new healthy habits so that I can lead a healthy lifestyle. Then by mid-January, I find myself kicking the healthy habits and reverting to the old unhealthy lifestyle of smoking, binge eating and barely moving away from my computer screen.
So what is it that makes us fail at trying to change our habits of health for the better? According to life coach and philanthropist Tony Robbins, you have to start by “quantifying what you want from life.” He believes the key to success and a way to create optimal health is by being proactive.
Becoming a healthy person is about living a healthy lifestyle. To live a healthy lifestyle you have to incorporate good health habits into your everyday life. In this guide, you will uncover good habits for good health, how to quantify what you want from life, how your subconscious mind affects your desire for healthy habits, and what you can do to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The Science Behind Healthy Habits
Healthy habits aren’t about saying that you are going to do something, it is about making the necessary changes to develop them. First, you need to understand what defines a habit. A habit is defined as a routine that is repeated subconsciously. For something to develop into a habit, it begins as a routine, that is repeated until it becomes automatic or without thinking.
To create optimal health it starts as an action that requires intention or a lot of effort on your part. Once you have repeated the routine of practicing good health, over time it becomes automatic and you will develop good health habits.
What are the examples of healthy habits that should be incorporated daily?
- Adequate rest
- Eating healthy
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eliminating caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol from our diets.
Healthy Sleep Habits
Part of living a healthy lifestyle is developing healthy sleep habits. Healthy sleep is necessary to create overall optimal body health. Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation puts you at a greater risk for:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
The NSF recommends that the optimal amount of sleep necessary for our body’s to perform at its best is 7-9 hours of sleep. With that being said, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 65% of Americans are overweight, or obese, this percentage is up almost 40% compared to 27% in the year 2000. The biggest factor that contributes to this number, is poor sleeping habits.
What are some ways that you can improve your sleep? The following are some healthy sleep hygiene tips to ensure a good night sleep:
- Create a sleep journal monitoring your sleep, over 1-2- weeks. This should include how long you slept, did you have trouble falling asleep, how did you feel the next day, and did you sleep the entire night or wake up in the middle of the night.
- Create a sleep schedule based on what time you need to be up in the morning and getting between 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. For example, if you need to be up by 7 am, then you should try to go to bed by 10 pm but no later than midnight.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day, but refrain from doing this at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Incorporate a relaxing nighttime ritual into your bedtime routine. This would include turning off all electronics before going to bed.
- If you find yourself constantly waking up in the middle of the night, find the source of the problem. Are you waking up because you are too hot or too cold, or because you’re uncomfortable? Check your pillows, mattress, and adjust the temperature in your bedroom.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine before going to bed.
If it takes you a long time to fall asleep at night or you have sleep disturbances throughout the night, it’s a tell-tale sign that you have poor sleep hygiene. Revisit your sleep routine and make changes for optimal sleep. If you continue having sleep problems, you may need to speak with your physician, since these could be red flags for other underlying health conditions.
Healthy Eating Habits
A lot of our eating habits are instilled in us at a very young age and has followed us into adulthood. However, the bad eating habits that we have acquired since childhood can always be changed. For example, when I was younger I couldn’t leave the dinner table until I finished everything on my plate. Now I have a hard time leaving food on my plate when I am full.
If this sounds like you, or you are struggling to make changes to your eating habits, rather than make radical changes to your eating habits, it is better to incorporate the 3 Rs:
This means to reflect on eating habits good and bad, replace unhealthy eating with healthy eating, and reinforce the new healthier habits by following a few steps.
1. Discover what your eating habits are, what triggers you to eat when you’re not hungry, what type of cues you struggle with on a daily or weekly basis, and jot them down in a food diary. Examples of bad habits or triggers would be:
- Eating when bored, stressed or tired
- Eating too fast
- Eating while standing or always cleaning your plate
- Skipping meals
- Always eating dessert
2. After reflecting on the bad eating habits, determine what can be done to replace them with good eating habits. Questions to ask when reflecting are
- How can you avoid the situation?
- What are healthy alternatives in the event I can’t control or avoid a trigger or situation?
- Should I try to plan meals and snacks for triggers out of my control?
3. Once you have identified your cues and triggers, replace them with the healthier alternatives. For example:
- If you always clean your plate, stop eating when you are full
- If you eat more while watching TV, turn the TV off when you eat.
- Eat slower, so that you are more aware of when you are full.
- If you are skipping meals and eating one large meal, break that meal into different intervals. Don’t finish a large meal at one sitting.
Reinforce healthy eating habits through motivation and questioning yourself when you fall back into old habits. Tell yourself that you can do this, don’t put yourself down or beat yourself up about it. Remember routines do not turn into habits overnight.
Quantifying and Qualifying
You should have a better understanding of the best healthy habits and good habits for good health, and the areas that you need to monitor and track to determine what to change. With that being said, we will address how to quantify and qualify your good health habit goals to live a healthy lifestyle.
You are probably wondering what does it mean to quantify and qualify your goals? Aforementioned, the way to successfully change old bad habits into new good habits is by quantifying what it is that you want. Instead of taking the approach of doing something, hoping for optimal results, and seeing what happens, you need to visualize the result you want, have a concrete goal or purpose to give you control over what the outcome is.
Sounds confusing, however here is an example of how to incorporate this approach to achieve a healthy lifestyle:
Example: You know that if you quit smoking you will reduce your risk for heart disease. Instead of saying that you are going to use a nicotine patch because you hear it will minimize your desires for a cigarette, you say that you want your desire for a cigarette to be a level-0. On a scale of 0-10, how desirable is that cigarette? What do you need to focus on to make the desire a 0? What would you need to focus on to make the desire a 10?
In the example above, the way you are taking control of the outcome is by focusing on ways to achieve your goal and determining what will deter you from the goal. You are encouraging the desire of a healthier lifestyle by eliminating the cigarettes, you are defining your purpose by stating you want your desire to be a 0. You are identifying what you need to focus on to reach that goal.
Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind
You have learned that you can control the results of your desires and actions through quantifying, and you learned that habits are a result of your subconscious mind adhering to a routine. Your habits cannot run by the conscious mind, however, they can run differently by the conscious mind by reprogramming your subconscious mind. What does this have to do with living a healthy lifestyle?
You should understand that your subconscious mind controls what you do and what you eat. By reprogramming your subconscious mind you can eliminate the bad habits and form good habits. Here are the steps you would take to reprogram your subconscious mind:
- The first thing that you do is recognize your bad habits from a different perspective.
- Observe your surroundings and who you associate with. Our minds will subconsciously receive inputs and influences from the people we surround ourselves with and our environment. Example: If you are surrounded by negativity, you subconsciously adopt a negative outlook. So if you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle, surround yourself around those that have a healthier lifestyle or want a healthier lifestyle.
- Visualize what you want. The subconscious mind will then absorb the positive images and filter out the bad habits. For example; If you want to quit smoking, visualize yourself doing things, such as exercising and not smoking, eventually this will push out the negative desires to have a cigarette.
- Use positive affirmations and have belief in what you say. For example, I will lose 20 lbs, or I will quit smoking.
In your subconscious mind, it’s about setting goals and being consistent. It’s not something that will happen overnight, just like routines don’t develop into habits overnight. However, if you redefine goals, lifestyles, and beliefs, you can reprogram your subconscious mind into eliminating bad habits and replace them with good healthy habits, therefore training your subconscious mind to get what you want(i.e, a healthy lifestyle).
If you are genetically predisposed to certain health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, it is all the more reason that you want to change your unhealthy habits. A healthy lifestyle will lower your risk for these predisposed health conditions. Aside from healthy eating, and healthy sleep hygiene, here are some additional lifestyle changes that you can make to put you in the direction of living a healthy lifestyle:
- Get your body moving. Doing at least 30-minutes of physical activity every day will help reduce stress and improve your mental and physical health.
- Don’t skimp on your sleep and don’t sleep too much. Sleeping less than 6 hours each day and more than 10 hours a day puts you at risk for obesity, headache, back pain, and heart disease.
- Maintain good dental hygiene. This includes flossing and brushing twice a day to remove bacteria that can cause gum disease. This bacteria can enter the bloodstream and thicken the arteries surrounding your heart.
- Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, you probably hear this over and over again. However, it needs to be reiterated, within 24 hours of quitting, you are doing your body justice. Your risk for heart attack and stroke diminishes within 20 minutes- 24 hours of your last cigarette.
- Listen to the signals that your body is sending you. Your body will tell you if you need more rest, need to move more, when you are dehydrated, or when you are hungry.
This guide should have given you a better understanding of what it takes to live a healthy lifestyle and what you need to do to create healthy habits. Habits are formed from repetitive behavior, if we force good behavior into our daily routines, it will develop into good healthy habits. This is how we control the outcome of our desires and reprogram our subconscious mind to develop healthy habits and live a healthy lifestyle.