Now that our pants won’t zip up and our shirts hug our love handles a little tighter after the holidays, most of our 2015 goals usually center on losing weight, building muscle, or both.
We tape “goal” pictures like these on our walls:
(The one on the right Erin for realz taped on our fridge, and I asked why she put up a hot pic of some woman’s butt. The picture came down immediately. Apparently I didn’t get that it’s a pic of her “goal jeans” .)
Year after year, we start out strong with our health goals. We make some changes and see some results in the first quarter.
Then, we get sidetracked by vacations, holidays, new episodes on Netflix, or we just forget about it.
Here’s the point:
I think it’s because we Americans are obsessed with quick fixes so we can get back to our easy, comfortable lifestyle.
We gain 6 pounds over Christmas vacation. Our New Year’s resolution is to lose those 6 pounds.
Maybe we lose 4 of those, and say “meh, close enough.” We stop going to the gym and eating salads because going to the gym and eating salads sucks (until your body gets used to it). Then comes Christmas vacation again… you get the picture.
Being healthy has to be our lifestyle, not a trend or a fad.
It should be a part of who we are, not just some passing acquaintance we call up when we need something, like dropping a few pounds.
We’re jealous of that guy who’s playing football with his kids when he’s 45 without pulling a hammy. We see that hot mom-of-4, seething that she looks as good now as in her 20’s.
We know they’re healthier than us. But what exactly are they doing?
What habits do they have that we don’t?
Some of these are weird, some are semi-obvious, but they’re all habits I’ve observed (or do myself).
1. Focus More On Inner Health Than Outward Appearance
We automatically assume that skinny people are the healthiest – when sometimes they’re doing worse than the fatties.
Ever heard of skinny-fat? Some people are lucky that they can eat enough to make a regular person obese, yet they still look like supermodels. You know who I’m talking about because you hate them.
These people can’t run a lap around the track and are very likely to have mega health problems in the future (or even right now). They’ll get fat soon enough, but even more importantly, their bodies aren’t working right on the inside.
If you’ve got a few extra pounds hanging on, but the habits are there, you’re much healthier than the skinny twig who pounds Mountain Dew and donuts.
The nice part? Focusing on your inside health eventually translates to fantastic outward improvements – like being in shape when you’re 50.
2. Think Positively About The Future
I’m a strong believer that your mental health (stress level, depression, self-esteem, etc.) is just as important as your physical health – and they very often intertwine. When you feel confident, happy, unstressed, you tend to manifest that into your appearance. You also feel like you can take on more, like clean eating and gym-going.
And focusing negatively on what’s to come is a quick way to destroy your optimism and confidence!
Instead of thinking about how you’ll always be fat, think about how great it will be when you’ve developed habits that will get you that flat stomach.
See? That’s a much healthier approach!
3. Don’t Worry What Others Think
People concerned about the opinion of others are scared to go to the gym because they don’t know how to use the machines. They’re concerned people will make fun of them for eating health foods. They think people are judging whether they’re too skinny or too fat.
Screw it! Who cares? If it’s interfering with the way you approach your health, it’s a little ridiculous to worry what other people think about.
I know that’s easier said than done, but it’s worth making the effort.
4. Not Afraid To Ask The Mechanic To Break Down Their Bill
In other words, they’re assertive.
Assertive people get stuff done and get their voice heard. They’re often healthier because they’ll take charge of their bodies instead of coming up with wimpy excuses like “someone at the office brought in donuts” or “I’m lazy and bought McDonalds.”
They’ll take charge, no matter what outside influences exist that try to make them fat.
5. Are Skeptical Of Doctors
Healthy people don’t take someone else’s word for it.
Should they listen to the doctors who rely on crappy body mass index charts?
Or tell us that statins reduce the risk of heart attacks?
Last week Erin took the Ryker man to the chiropractor because he had been sick for 2 weeks with a cold and ear ache. Ryker got an adjustment and some herbs to boost his immune system. Most moms would have taken him to the doctor and loaded him up with antibiotics – which destroys your gut health.
Learn to take care of your own body and results will follow. Plus, understanding your health will build your self-confidence, which boosts your mental health.
6. Don’t Let The Past Define Who They Are
Were you picked on as a kid?
Do you have low self-esteem?
Did you grow up fat?
Does it matter anymore?
You can’t let those things determine who you are. Just because you were once the fat kid doesn’t mean you still have to be.
I can guarantee that you have a friend (or maybe yourself) who has dramatically changed themselves from when they were young, whether they lost weight or supercharged their confidence.
Why let the past dictate who we are when we see people change all the time?
Such an annoying word isn’t it? We live in a society that gets what they want right away even if they don’t need it or have to take out a personal loan to get it.
Healthy people reduce their stress by being smarter with money. They’re not part of the growing demographic of adults that say they live paycheck to paycheck (no matter their income) yet “own” the expensive car and boat.
Sacrifice the things you don’t need for more financial security, and you’ll feel an invisible burden lifted and be more at peace with yourself. You’ll feel more confident about the future.
After all, a nice car doesn’t pay your kids’ college tuition or fund your retirement.
With the money you save, start paying off your debt faster even if it’s “good” debt. That debt won’t be omnipresent in the back of your mind.
8. Don’t Procrastinate
“After the holidays I’ll start eating better.”
“On Monday I’ll go to the gym. Let’s have one last night out and go to Olive Garden.”
If it’s not important to you right now, why will it be more important after the holidays or next week? Healthy people learn to make it a part of who they are, not a habit they pick up and drop off when it’s convenient.
Forcing yourself to begin right this second shows yourself that you have the discipline to make the hard choice now. There will always be after-the-holidays-type events in your life. Be healthy now.
9. Work At A Job They Love
When people tell me they absolutely hate their job, my response is almost always the same:
Think about what a crap job does to you – it depresses you, wears you out, destroys your will to live (no, seriously). Start looking for a new one! Or go into business for youself. You can start by making a blog like us.
Almost nothing can destroy your health faster than a job that zaps your ability to care.
Is that worse than being hard-up for cash for a bit?
If AT ALL possible, take out a loan, use credit cards, ANYTHING you have to do… do it. It’s not worth staying.
10. Don’t Stress About Ebola, The Government, Or 9/11 Theories
In other words, don’t stress about stuff you can’t fix.
Our day-to-day lives are stressful enough. Adding the burden of things you can’t control can be unbearable.
Stick to things you can control, like your diet, how you treat your friends, and going to the gym.
Healthy people know that perhaps the biggest threat to your physical health are the toxins that we eat and surround ourselves with.
They learn to avoid processed foods, tap water, microwaving food in plastics, and using harsh cleaners on their counters.
They also learn a few secrets for ridding these toxins, like juicing or drinking warm water with lemon in the morning.
12. Don’t Do Drastic Diets
Do you have that friend that always is obsessing about their weight? They’re always going on these crazy diets, posting selfies of their progress and new found bodies only to be back to their former self a couple of months later? (I find it a little annoying personally)
Like I’ve mentioned before, healthy people see their healthy habits as a lifestyle, not an on-again, off-again relationship they can pick up when they want.
Super-drastic diets aren’t a lifestyle; they’re a quick fix. What happens when you go off that crazy Slim-Fast diet you’re trying? Back to the same old you.
13. Eat More Fat, Less Sugar
Healthy people know that fat (from healthy sources) has never caused a heart attack or stroke. Ever.
Sugar is the enemy. It’s what makes us fat, diabetic, and disease-riddled.
Sub sugar for healthy fats by slathering your food in butter, drinking that whole fat milk (or raw milk), and eating full fat sour cream.
14. Shop When Not Hungry
When I’m hungry, stuff like instant dinners, chips, and candy bars jump off the shelves into my shopping cart.
It’s because that’s the stuff I want right now.
Eating before shopping turns you into the Spock of shoppers – you can keep emotion out of it and just buy the stuff on your list.
Don’t underestimate this point. It’ll help you, I promise.
15. Bring Lunch To Work
Oh, the office.
It’s where I fall off the rails more than anywhere else.
One of the habits I quickly developed is to never, ever go to work without a decent-sized lunch and a snack or two from home.
When I bring nothing or even something way too small, that’s when I grab a pizza with a coworker.
16. Park Farther Away
One of my biggest pet peeves is someone who drives around for 5 minutes (or more) in the parking lot in order to save 20 seconds of walking.
Are we that lazy?
I purposely park far away, not only to avoid roving aimlessly in the parking lot, but to get in a bit more walking.
17. Take The Stairs
Same thing here. A couple of flights won’t kill you.
Walking a few flights might seem like too small a thing to make a difference, but we’re talking about shifting your mindset. Even small changes like this redirect your focus and keep you on target.
18. Purposely Make Loads Of Leftovers
Healthy people plan out their meals so they’re not left thinking “I have no idea what to eat – let’s grab some burgers.”
I know that’s our biggest reason for spontaneous gut-busting.
It’s just the wife, myself, and a little baby, but we often cook like we’re the von Trapp family – meaning I’ve got lunches to take to work for the rest of the week.
19. Focus On Nutrients Over Calories
Healthy people know that calories are crap.
Should I eat 200 calories of a Snickers bar, or 200 calories of fruits and veggies?
See? Don’t count calories, it’s dumb.
Focus on filling your diet with wholesome, natural foods and 2015 will be the healthiest year you’ve ever had.
Plus, counting calories is stressful. If you’ve done it before, you’re nodding your head right now.
20. Are Not Afraid To Throw Away Food
This one’s hard, because we’re taught since preschool to not waste food.
But, that food on your plate is yours. It’s either going in your belly or getting thrown away. No one’s packaging it up and sending it off to Somalia to feed starving kids.
Ideally, you’d take less to begin with. But, on those times you take too much, just chuck it. You’re saving your gut and training yourself that you don’t have to stuff your stomach.
21. Lift Weights, Don’t Run
Long-distance running doesn’t have anywhere near the health benefits that lifting weights does.
Weight lifting burns more calories, burns calories for longer, speeds up your metabolism, doesn’t destroy your knees, and doesn’t cannibalize your muscles for energy.
22. Find Fun Workouts
Some (sadistic) people like going to the gym in a monotonous routine to stay fit. It works, but it’s not for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to try out other workouts, like going to a CrossFit gym, joining rec league sports teams, buying at-home videos like p90x, or playing tennis with your friends. Everyone can find exercises they like.
Finding different things to do will also help you to not get burned out with exercising.
23. Have A Workout Buddy
Workout buddies make you get out of bed early, try harder, and give you someone to laugh with when you aren’t using the machine correctly.
24. Move Around At Work
This infographic blew my mind.
Or this insane stat: sitting for an hour shortens your lifespan by twice as much as smoking a cigarette does.
I have no idea how they figured that out, but even if every hour sitting shortens it by 30 seconds, that’s terrifying.
Get up and walk around, and have a smoke. You’ll live longer 😉
25. Do Their Research
Think about it – where do we get most of our nutrition information from?
Their commercials and their product packaging teach us what’s healthy and what isn’t.
It’s like a zebra asking a tiger how to escape carnivores.
Food companies will do anything (including teaching misleading or downright false info) to get us to believe their brand is healthiest.
If you’re working to create a healthy lifestyle, you’ve gotta do the research.
26. Know How To Cook
Quit relying on fast food and instant meals. They’re killing you.
I bet your healthiest friends are also some of the best cooks you know, right? Cooking isn’t some innate talent for most of us – it’s something you learn through trial and error.
Erin HATED cooking until we started eating a real food diet. Now she tolerates and sometimes enjoys cooking because she knows she’s helping her family get the nutrients they need.
When people say I’m a good cook (let’s face it, I do the cooking around here), I tell them it’s 90% the recipes I use. Really, eating junky because you don’t know how to cook is inexcusable with Pinterest out there.
27. Read Ingredient Lists
Before buying something, healthy people read through the ingredients to make sure there aren’t harmful chemicals in there.
Some quick research can indicate the most common offenders, like high fructose corn syrup, MSG, soy lecithin, dyes, veggie oil, and natural flavors.
Look for ingredients you’d stock in your kitchen, and leave the others on the shelf.
28. Know Family Risk Factors
Do you have 2 uncles with diabetes? Or do the men in your family die young from heart attacks?
People in control of their health don’t just know their risk factors, they actively protect themselves against them.
29. Sleep More
I don’t like taking naps – I miss too much stuff.
Even at night, I’ve never minded sleeping only 6 hours because I feel like I’m missing out on things happening.
As a self-proclaimed healthy person, I’ve had to force myself to sleep more. The dangers of too little sleep scare me too much.
Too little sleep can lead to lower critical thinking ability, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, old-person skin, obesity, and even just straight-up dying. Have you seen Erin when Ryker keeps her up all night?
30. Keep Their House Clean
Keeping a clean house is a strong indicator that you care – and not just about your home, but your entire life.
People with chaotic lives, or who are lazy and disorganized, have the messiest homes. The people who are fit, healthy, and happy usually have the cleanest living spaces.
Plus, dirty houses are a constant stressor. Want a happier spouse? Clean the house.
You’ll both be happier and healthier.
31. Create Strong Routines
Every day, I know exactly when I’m going to the gym. I also know that when I get home, it’s time for me to cook dinner.
There’s no guessing when I’ll go the gym, and there’s no debate about whether we’re eating out. We have a meal planned each night, and that I’m going to make it. Case closed.
Can you see how that makes eating well and exercising 10x easier?
32. Make To-Do Lists
How is it that Mr. and Mrs. Amazing down the street seem to have 4 awesome kids, a clean house, a nicely manicured front yard, and time to cook meals and exercise?
Each day, they know what needs to get done and set a time for it. Ideally, you’d write these down and check each item off.
Which seems harder to do:
“Today I need to do Yoga, clean the house, drop the package off at UPS, mow the back lawn, take the kids to school, take Johnny to piano practice, buy groceries, and cook dinner.”
7:45 am: Drop kids off at school
8 am: Drop off UPS package
8:15 am: Grocery shopping
9:30 am: Yoga
10:30 am: Mow lawn
… You get the idea. That first jumble of a list (especially when unwritten and floating around your brain) makes your day seem ridiculously jam-packed. The second example gives you a very real plan of what you’re going to accomplish that day.
You’ll find that you actually do have time to exercise and cook dinner!
33. Are Religious
I’m a very religious person, so your bias-alarm should be screaming right now.
According to a recent study, people who attend a religious service weekly are nearly twice as likely to label themselves “very happy.”
Now, you don’t need to fake conversion to a religion, but making already-held religious beliefs a more central part of your life can improve your mental health.
34. Make New Friends Frequently
If you’re already confident, optimistic, kind, and outward-focused, you’ll make friends pretty easily.
It also works the other way around – if you work hard to make friends, you’ll become more confident, optimistic, kind, and outward-focused… all qualities of healthy and mentally balanced people.
35. Give Service
No stats here, call it an observation:
People who find time to think about others are more stable and balanced than people who only think about themselves.
Create More Time
36. Turn Off Netflix
I love my TV as much as the next person – but turning it off can be rewarding. Just last night, we turned ours off so Erin could give me a piano lesson and then I read a book to her.
That made me happier, and definitely healthier, than Netflix could have.
Plus, if you’re not rushing to the couch to watch the next episode of The Blacklist, you’re more likely to hit the gym or take a few more minutes in the kitchen to whip up something healthy.
37. Wake Up Early
Often the most productive hours of our day are the first few after we wake up. It’s a time you can create strong, healthy routines, like going to the gym or cooking a good breakfast.
Or, you can get stuff done, like clean a little or catch up on some work to lift that stress burden before your day’s even really started.
38. Don’t Eat Junk At The Office
The office I work at is a junk food landmine – everywhere I step, there’s unhealthy food being offered. People bring in cookies, donuts, bagels, pizza… people need to stop being nice 😛
If I’m going to eat junk food, it’s going to be with Erin on a hot date! Allowing too many “exceptions” leads to extra pounds.
39. Don’t Binge On Vacation
See the “exceptions” line above. It’s hard, and even healthy people don’t eat perfect on vacations, but it’s not a license to get triple cheeseburgers and hot fudge sundaes every meal.
40. Set “Eating Out” Limits
As healthy food bloggers, Erin and I pretty much don’t eat junk food at home. We make our meals from scratch, and we never have soda, chips, or cookies at home (unless we make a healthy version).
But… we love eating out. It’s fun to go out and do something, plus we can’t make a burger that tastes like In n Out or a burrito that tastes like Café Rio.
We have a rule that we can eat out once per week. By looking forward to this one meal, during the week we can avoid eating out because we know our cheat meal is coming!
Plus it’s good for our relationship to get out of the house without the baby and go on a date!
What other habits have you developed that have helped you be healthier?
Share the Following Image On Your Site