Exercising Good Habits
June 24, 2012 // Wellness
Being mindful of our health is not limited to a room full of weights and stationary bikes. Health is more than just reduction of indulgences; health is a mindset of incorporating positive strategies into a lifestyle. Strategies such as better eating choices, improved sleep, and channeling stress are positive habits that take conscious effort to incorporate. When positive strategies are consciously applied into a lifestyle, all other aspects begin to improve. When you want to improve your health, consider your habits and routines and decide what areas need the most attention.
Below I have listed a few ways to improve general habits for a positive effect on your health.
Sleep: Quality over Quantity.
How many hours of sleep is generally recommended for the healthy individual? Eight hours a night. It’s a nice thought in theory, but somewhere between hour 4 and 5 you had to get up because your child is awake and crying. So what does that mean; will you never be “healthy”?! No, because instead of worrying about the number, consider the quality. Our late night habits have a direct influence on our quality of sleep. Watching TV before bed is a sure way to wake up restless and groggy. When your body is preparing for a state of rehabilitation and rejuvenation, sensory input (visual and audio from the TV) is only going further exhaust your mind and body. Turn off the tube an hour before your normal bedtime and you will feel an immediate difference. Have trouble staying asleep? Take long, deep breaths and try to slow your thoughts. A deep sleep is always more effective than a long, restless sleep.
The Best Offense is a Good Defense.
You overslept and are rushing to work; eating breakfast is completely out of the question. This will onset a slue of adjustments and negative reactions (quality of work decreases, increase in sugar cravings, frustration, etc.). These situations happen, so expect them to happen. Preparing for your mistakes is one of the best ways to excel in your habits. Set aside food that is quick and easy like instant oatmeal, meal replacement bars, etc. for the unfortunate days when diversions occur. If possible, keep a box of “just in case” food in your desk and in your home. Always have a back-up plan in order to stay on track.
Progress The Workouts.
It will never get easier – accept it. Exercising, or “training”, is the act of pushing one’s body to its physical limits using safe, effective movements and proper load (weight). Somewhere between the media and trendy fitness trainers came the notion that working out is this fun, smiling environment with little effort. This is an insult to the art of exercise and to your intelligence. Let’s be clear: if your body is at X level and you do the same thing under the same load, your body will always be at X. Ronnie Coleman, an 8x Mr. Olympia, is quoted for saying “Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but no one wants to lift any heavy-ass weight.” Well, Mr. Coleman, not everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, but everyone wants to get stronger and healthier. Progress your workouts each time; manipulate the variables and your body will adapt to the demand. Consider the number of reps, number of sets, amount of load, time under tension, rest time, etc. If you are unsure of how to progress, hire a trainer – they are experts in these manipulations.
Keep The Liquids Clear.
One of the most underrated factors in health is water. Water is not only vital for our bodies to function, but can significantly change the health of a person. Drinking water throughout the day will increase your metabolism, decrease your hunger and cravings, and maintain your energy. Some other benefits include clearer skin, reduction of headaches and stress, easier digestion of food, better sleep quality, and improved immune system. Aim to drink a full glass of water with each meal/snack, regardless of thirst level. You’ll notice that the water will help you feel fuller and prevent over-eating. Also, the more often you drink water, the less likely you are to drink refreshments with an excess amount of sugar and chemicals. Remember, water helps with excretion of wastes and by-products; if you don’t want to store it, then flush it out.
Structure Your Lifestyle.
I have found that when someone outlines and analyzes their lifestyle, there is more than one source of bad habits that can be improved. Addressing these habits with a different approach yields not only a positive change in that habit, but an improved health of that person. For example, if you want to improve the look of your body, the first thought would be “I need to work out more.” Now while I completely support that mentality, it may not be realistic — I’ll show you why. You have 168 hours in a week. Between work, sleep, relationships, responsibilities, and social outings, your available time is relatively limited. Exercise is usually crammed in our lifestyles, so to add more time for exercise is a big request and requires a lot of restructuring. Like I previously stated, it may not be realistic. What is realistic is being mindful of the other habits that make up your lifestyle. Consider your habits when you are not exercising (quality of foods, quantity of indulgences, etc.) and try making improvements to those habits in order to see a positive effect in your health.