top of page

Fostering Your Health Through The Power of Habits

fostering health through habits

There is no denying that creating or breaking certain habits can impact both short- and long-term health outcomes. This isn’t new news by any means, so why is it that people are still struggling (maybe now more than ever) to achieve their health and fitness goals or simply living a healthy lifestyle?

 

Simply put, habits are behaviors that are repeated over time. When habits become more frequent or done in an almost unconscious manner, it’s due to a series of learned acts that have been reinforced by some kind of rewarding experience. How has this straight-forward, yet complex, psychological response that we all experience hundreds of times per day lead so many to versions of themselves that they aren’t happy with, physically and health-wise? Short answer: common habits seen today that do necessarily support optimal health are much “easier” to do and produce almost immediate “dopamine-like” effects.

 

Regarding health and achieving specific goals, this article is going to discuss common habits that are often present for individuals who ARE achieving goals and some real-life techniques to make them applicable for the reader. Here are FIVE habits that can significantly improve your overall health and help you become more successful at achieving your goals.


 

1.     Optimize your sleep routine(s), morning and night.

 

This habit isn’t so much focused on specific time(s) in which you should be going to bed and waking, but rather optimizing your schedule and behaviors to promote a healthy circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm influences highly important functions within the body, and when it is impacted…these other functions can follow suit.

            Things that are influenced by your circadian rhythm:

-       Release of hormones

-       Appetite and digestion

-       Body temperature

 

A poor circadian rhythm also impacts long-term health by increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, mood disorders, cardiovascular health and even cancer. (NIH, 2023).

 

If you find yourself drowsy throughout the day, are having difficulty focusing, not recovering well from exercise, or even are experiencing some sleep issues (troubles falling or staying asleep), it may be worth seeing HOW you can improve the time before bed and the first hour or so of your day.

 

2.     Drinking water.

 

This habit isn’t going to blow your mind. In fact, it’s probably the one everyone would mention when asked, “What is something you can do to improve your health?”. Here’s the thing, just because everyone knows it doesn’t mean everyone does it. In fact, in a survey done between 2015-2018, the average water intake for adults was 44 ounces. (CDC, 2022). The minimum recommendation for adults is to consume at least 64 ounces of water daily…and it doesn’t take much to see that most adults fall short of this requirement.

 

Staying hydrated is the most “known” benefit of water intake, but that’s not the only job of water in the body. Water helps regulate our core body temperature, it helps lubricate and cushion joints, it protects the spinal cord, and it helps rid the body of waste (urination, sweating, bowel movements). From a performance and nutrition standpoint, hydration is needed for optimal muscle performance and recovery as well as the metabolism, digestion and absorption of food.


 

3.     Daily movement.

 

A sedentary life is typically an unhealthy life. Research shows us that minimal movement during the day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, a decrease in bone health, a decrease in balance, coordination and mobility, and is doing digestion and metabolism of food a disservice.

 

There is this “you have to hit 10,000 steps a day” movement and it’s been the case since fitness trackers have become an accessory for almost everyone. While this article won’t tell you 10,000 steps every single day is required in order to be your best self, it IS saying that consistent, daily movement that hits close to that WILL prove to be beneficial for your health.

 

Digestively, your body will metabolize and USE the food you eat more efficiently. Your blood sugar levels will likely be more stable as moving your body will give your body a reason to need an uptake the sugars floating in your bloodstream. Mentally, it gives you more clarity and focus.

 

4.     Regular physical EXERCISE.

 

It’s important to differentiate that movement and exercise are NOT synonymous. Exercise is a FORM of movement, but simple daily movement isn’t considered exercise. Exercise is planned, structured, repetitive activities where the main purpose is improving and/or maintaining physical health.

 

Making exercise a habit is an indicator that the behavior is a part of your routine because of the long-term benefits you know it produces. Those who exercise for the SOLE purpose of weight loss are often those who aren’t able to continue to behavior long term.

 

Exercise as a habit promotes not just weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, but it also provides numerous NON-scale benefits to your health like reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This article will not discuss an “optimal” form of exercise. For the purpose here, it is simply important to understand that exercise (in any or numerous forms) is advantageous to your health and choosing one (or multiple) forms that you enjoy will make it easier to adopt the behavior long-term.

 

5.     Eating protein at every single meal/snack.

 

There could be several nutrition-based habits included in this article, but as a coach, the overarching theme in all new clients, especially women, who struggle to hit their health and wellness goals is under-consuming protein. According to diet and nutrition statistics from the CDC, the average protein intake for adults was between 15-16% of their total calories. This may not mean much in the form of a percentage, but even for a sedentary individual not looking to improve lean muscle tissue, it is still suggests at least 20-25% for overall health (and between 25-35% for improving body composition).

 

But why? The role of protein in the body is much more than just building lean tissue, though that is an important one. Other main roles of protein include:

o   Serve as catalyst for all chemical reactions that occur in the body

o   Regulate the immune system

o   Serve as the major structural elements of all cells (NIH, 1999)

 

Additionally, protein is a complex molecule and often takes the longest (of the 3 macronutrients) to digest. This is why eating a meal high in protein can keep you satiated for longer periods. This, in turn, also helps with blood sugar management and reduces the highs and lows that can be caused in higher carbohydrate meals. Having meals that keep you satiated will reduce the likelihood of frequent and mindless snacking between meals, which can then help with weight loss/maintenance goals and simply improve overall mindfulness with food.


 

While this article simply brushes the surface when it comes to habits and how they can work FOR you to improve your overall health and well-being, this could be a catalyst for turning inward and evaluating what you can change to improve your progress. One of my favorite books in relation to habits and behavior change is James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” and I feel this quote from his book is the perfect way to wrap up this article:

 

Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

 


References:

14 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page