Like everyone else, I like things quick, easy, and fun. But I also want to be healthy, happy, and abundant. And I firmly believe I can have both. I refuse accept that I have to engage in brutal self-depravation or killer workouts that border on torture in order to be healthy, and to live a long, vibrant, fulfilled life.
It's All About Our Habits
The word habit can have negative connotations to some, but habits can be our most powerful allies. Once something becomes a habit, it's automatic. We do it without thinking. Some habits become so ingrained that we do that compulsively and can't seem to stop. Habits like nail biting, or lip chewing, or snacking. We don't have to remind ourselves to do these things. They've become automatic responses to certain situations.
Our Brains are Groovy
Our brains make grooves, paths, from point A to point B. If a person does things in the same order over and over, say they get into the car and light up a cigarette, then the brain learns this pattern very quickly. After a short while, the second you get into the car, the brain starts signaling that it's time to light up that cigarette. There's a path or a groove being created in your brain from “get in the car” to “light up a smoke.” Soon it's almost impossible to get into the car and not light up.
We can use this powerful habit-generating, groove-digging brain of ours to create the grooves we want instead of the ones we don't.
Get Your Grooves On
To develop the habits we want, and get them to the point where they have created superhighways in our brain, all we need to do is leverage our brain's ability to learn. If there are things we already do every single day, we can use those things as Point A. Then, if we begin to follow those every day things with the good practices we want to make into habits, the brain will learn them.
For example, we brush our teeth every morning. No one has to remind us, are they haven't since we turned eight or so. We just do it. If, every morning after we brush our teeth, we drink a big glass of clear, nourishing water, pretty soon drinking that water will be as automatic as brushing our teeth. Our brain will fire that “drink the water” message the minute we start to taste minty fresh. Soon there will be a groove from “Brush my teeth” to “drink my water.” Habit accomplished.
List of EASY Health-Improving Habits
Please note, you don't have to adopt them all. Pick one or two and work on them for a whole month, and then maybe try one or two more.
- Drink more water. 100 ounces a day minimally. Goal is to drink your weight in ounces. If you weight 150 pounds, then drink 150 ounces a day. But start with something easier and build up.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. According to WebMD, we need from 7 to 13 cups of produce daily to get the best benefits. I can't even imagine eating that much, even with giant salads for lunch every day. But I'm going to try harder.
- Meditate for 15 minutes each day. Find free downloads if you need guidance. Basically, put on soft music, sit in a quiet place where you are warm and comfortable, set a timer, and focus on your breaths. Count them in and count them out, slow and easy, and let your mind go quiet.
- Sit Less. Move more. Using a stand up desk, or treadmill desk for some of your daily computer tasks like social media or email, can make a huge difference. Too much sitting shortens and tightens the Psoas Muscle, which can result in back pain and limited mobility. It's vital we spend most of our waking hours standing up.
- Spend Time Outdoors. Try to schedule a time each day when you go outside. Combine this habit with moving more by going for a walk, or tending to your lawn or garden. Combine it with meditation by choosing or creating a peaceful oasis for your daily 15. The sun on your skin floods your body with Vitamin D, something our bodies need more of than we're typically getting. And its rays also instigate the release of feel good brain chemicals, endorphins and such. It's a mood booster, an antidepressant, in fact.
- Get More Sleep. Develop a bedtime habit that includes turning off all the electronics for an hour before going to bed and remember not to eat for 3 hours before bed. Have a cup of tea, sit quietly and do something peaceful like listening to the crickets if you live in the country, or repeating your morning meditation, or writing your thoughts in a journal. Try some sound effect machines if you need white noise to sleep.
- Floss Your Teeth. Flossing after you brush removes bacteria the toothbrush misses. Bacteria lead to inflammation. Inflammation is the basis of most of the diseases we humans can develop including heart disease, cancer, and auto-immune stuff. So floss.
Step By Step Habit Building
Choose one or two habits from the list above, or come up with your own healthy habit ideas. Then simply pick a habit you already have, something you do every day, and put the new activity or practice right after it. For example, I might decide to do 10 squats every time I use the bathroom. I might decide that every time I go upstairs, I'll go back down and up again before continuing on to whatever task I was going to do up there. I might decide to chug a full glass of water with every meal. Or even better, a half hour before every meal. I might decide to set a bowl of grapes or a platter of pre-washed celery sticks near the computer and snack on them in between lines of text. I might decided that before I write, I must go for a walk and ponder the scene I'm about to create, or that after I write, I will do my yoga routine.
Adding a healthy habit as a must-do companion to habits you've already developed, is the fastest, easiest way I've yet discovered to create those new grooves in the brain.
You have to choose to do it, and then be stubbornly consistent for just a little while. And the next thing you know, poof, it's automatic.
So there you have it. A step by step guide to quick and easy health hacks. Let me know which ones you plan to try, or add a list of your own in comments.
Did you miss my post about how pleasure prevents cancer? You can read it HERE.