This is a recap of the first layer of the Habit Pyramid, a set of core habits that allow us to live purposefully in spite of modern challenges. The foundation is built upon strong habits for personal health, including sleep, eating well, sitting less, and moving more.
We want to be a healthy example for our families. We want to live longer and feel better. We want to avoid taking pills to get through the day.
But we don’t know where to start.
I know because I was there.
A month before my 30th birthday, I felt like I was closer to 80. My joints hurt. I had constant headaches and stomach problems. I barely had enough energy to get through the day, and stress was taking its toll.
On May 7, 2009, I decided that had to change. Since then, I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching our bodies and how modern life affects us. I’ve experimented with different approaches and closely tracked the results. I’ve assisted friends and family with making similar changes and watched their transformations as well.
I know it can be better. I’ve lived it, and I’ve seen it. And I firmly believe you can have it too.
Obviously, I’m not a doctor or health professional. I don’t have a degree or formal training in these areas, and I’d certainly recommend you seek expert advice for your particular situation. My goal is to simply start the conversation.
If you’re ready, I believe there is a roadmap that you can follow.
Step One: Get enough sleep.
This one is non-negotiable. Ignore it, and you’ll wipe out just about any progress you make in other areas. It’s that important.
Here’s how to make it work:
1. Decide what time you need to get up each morning. Calculate 8 hours (or even 7 at first) back from that. That’s your new bedtime. Get up at 7am? Then your goal is 11pm.
2. Backup one hour from your new bedtime, and make a note to start winding down. Get the kids in bed. Turn off the tv and the computers. Pick up a positive book or magazine, or cuddle with your spouse.
3. Celebrate how great you feel after just a few days. Projects you struggled with will get easier. You’ll be less stressed and generally happier. You might even lose weight.
Try this for a week before you tackle any of the other next steps. If you’re still struggling, stay focused on this until you make progress. Once you realize how much better you feel, you’ll naturally make it a priority. (Click here to see the full article.)
Step Two: Reduce the amount of time you sit each day.
This is another challenge of modern life. The reality is that our bodies weren’t designed to sit all day, and it’s literally killing us. What can you do?
1. Take a “move break” every hour. Every little bit helps.
2. Get a standing desk. (It’s more common than you think, and they’re really cheap.)
3. Cut back on your television watching.
Give this change a week as well. Recruit a co-worker to walk the hall with you every hour. Or request a standing desk that you can try out and use for part of the day. Partner with your spouse to eliminate that last hour of television each night. After just a few days, you’ll notice that your hips and back feel better. Your circulation and digestion will be better too. (Click here to see the full article.)
Step Three: Move more.
Here’s the deal: exercise isn’t the most effective way to lose weight. (Step four is.) But it is the single best way to improve the way your brain works and fight off depression and stress. For those of us juggling multiple projects and family commitments, that’s a big deal. And the latest research says 20 to 30 minutes a day is enough. We can all find that.
1. Go for a walk. Start where you are: the hallway, the driveway, the end of the block, or to the park. The key is to just start and do something each day.
2. If you’re ready, consider High Intensity Interval Training. For a minimal time commitment, you’ll get tremendous benefits.
If you’re sleeping enough and moving some throughout the day, this will be easy to layer on in week three. If you’re a morning person, you can schedule your “moving” time early in the day before you have any other distractions. If that doesn’t suit you, aim for right after work. It’s a natural way to develop a habit, and it will help you release the stresses of the day. (Click here to see the full article.)
Step Four: Eat greener and cleaner.
I’m a believer in the paleo-style of eating as I’ve seen its consistent results firsthand. There’s some flexibility with exactly what that means, and here are some basic guidelines that you can follow.
1. If it came from the earth or an animal, it’s generally good to eat. This would include fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, nuts, and natural oils. These foods typically do not have a barcode and a long list of ingredients.
2. If it comes in a box or package and has dozens of ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it’s probably not food and you shouldn’t eat it.
3. If it is a grain, starch, or dairy product and you don’t know its genetic background, it has probably been significantly modified along the way and you probably shouldn’t eat it.
This is likely the hardest change to implement, and the one that will make the most difference. It is significantly easier if you’ve already taken the first few steps above. They’ll ensure your willpower muscle is fueled and ready to help you make good decisions. (Click here to see the full article.)
If you’re worried that this will be too expensive or too much work, that’s a natural response. We can walk through it together.
First, be sure you’re entered in my October grocery giveaway. For one lucky reader, I’ll buy your groceries for the month of October – up to $800. I’ll also provide personalized family meal plans and weekly coaching.
Even if you don’t win the groceries, you’ll have an opportunity to receive specific steps for getting started and meal plans throughout the month of October (at no cost). All you have to do is sign up.
These four health habits form the base of the Habit Pyramid, a set of core habits that allow us to live purposefully in spite of modern challenges. Once we’ve established these, we can confidently add the other layers.
Are you stuck anywhere? What else can I help with?