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Healthy Habit Changes for 2009

Healthy Habit Changes for 2009

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    Trying to make 2009 your healthiest year to date?   I’ve compiled for you what I believe to be some of the best health conscience habits you can easily adopt.

    Habit 1:  Drink more water.

    Sure, I know about all the news reports that say it’s possible to drink too much water.  Surprisingly, this same story is told just about every 4 years when news stations have no other “news” going on, and it always seems to stir up all sorts of awareness on the topic.  The truth is, in all my years of guiding individuals on proper nutrition, I have yet to run into one person who had an H2O disorder.  A well-hydrated body has a much easier time at shedding unwanted body fat and preserving lean muscle mass.  A healthy, active individual should be consuming .6 – .7 ounces of water per pound of body weight.

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    Habit 2:  Eat more fiber.

    I’ll say it again.  People do not get nearly enough fiber in their diets.  Work on trying to get anywhere from 25 – 30 grams of fiber per day into your eating plan.  Fiber provides a plethora of benefits from increasing the thermic effect (calories burned from digestion) of a meal, to trapping and evacuating excess fats.

    Habit 3:  Eat every 3 hours.

    Start splitting your larger meals up into smaller, more frequent bouts of eating.  Spreading your calories throughout the day allows for an increase in metabolism and insures that none of the nutrients you are consuming go to waste.  This can be difficult for many people who maintain busy lifestyles, which is why I suggest picking one or two days a week to do all of your cooking.  At that point, Tupperware containers become your new best friend.

    Habit 4:  Eat more fruits and vegetables.

    And eat a large variety as well.  The more colors you consume the better.  They’re packed with fat-burning fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  We all know that vegetables are gold, but when it comes to fruit, it sometimes gets a bad rep.  I often get the question “but doesn’t fruit have a lot of sugar in it?”  Again, I have yet to meet the person who has a well-balanced diet who has found that fruit was the main reason they couldn’t let go of the extra body fat.  Get over it. If you’re obese fruit isn’t the culprit.  Take a long look at everything else you’re eating, and I’m positive you’ll find something a little more worthy to drop. 

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    Habit 5:  Drink less alcohol.

    If you want a drug that will help you gain body fat as well as decrease your lean body mass, then you’ve found the right prescription.  This is true only when it’s consumed in excess, of course.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some beer, and there are studies showing plenty of benefits from its consumption at moderate dosages.  But let’s not get carried away now.  If you tend to go overboard, and you know who you are, maybe it’s time to start keeping track of just how much you’re putting back.

    Habit 6:  Choose organic and local foods when possible.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we will start to see more and more studies come out showing the adverse effects of consuming over-processed food.  It’s only a matter of time.  Digestion is a delicate process, a process our bodies have spent hundreds of thousands of years perfecting.  In just the past few decades we have started introducing extra hormones, antibiotics, and other impurities into our foods.  Our bodies have filters that take care of these things, but let’s not put them to the test.

    Habit 7:  Reduce the amount of sugars consumed.

    At this point it should be a no brainer.  If anything good has come from the hundreds of diet books written this past decade, it’s the awareness that controlling your blood sugar is crucial to achieving optimal health.  The sweets do not have to be eliminated from your diet completely, but you should have them well under control. 

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    Habit 8:  Stop going to the super market hungry.

    Real simple.  If you’re hungry, you’ll buy what you want, not what you need.  Our bodies are still hard-wired for survival.  Unfortunately when you stroll down the aisle at your local food supply your brain will target just about anything in your field of vision and deem it an acceptable choice of nourishment, regardless of its nutritional value. 

    Habit 9:  Take regular stand up breaks at work.

    Do it for your posture, do it for circulation, and do it for your own sanity.  Our bodies were not designed to be in a seated position all day long.  You could prevent much of life’s chronic pains if you would just take a moment to stand up and stretch your legs every 30 or 40 minutes.  Set a timer on your desktop if you have to; just get it done.

    Habit 10:  Start using the stairs instead of the elevator.

    Even park farther away from your destination so you have to walk a few extra steps in the day.  Adding a tiny bit of extra footwork can add up at the end of the year.  I know it’s not exciting or drastic, but the difference can be a few extra pounds that you don’t need hanging around your waist.

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    Habit 11:  Balance your physical and sedentary activities.

    I’m talking about what you do with your free time.  Have you ever spent a couple of hours on the weekend watching TV, playing video games, or browsing the internet looking at cat pictures?  Try to create some balance by doing an equal amount of leisure activities on your feet.  Take a walk, shoot some hoops, and maybe take up a new physically active hobby.  Who knows, you might find something new you really like.

    Habit 12:  Keep a health journal.

    One of the most powerful ways to be successful with your health is to write it all down.  Keep track of your workouts and your nutrition.  It can be very hard to figure out where you’re going if you don’t remember where you’ve been.  You’ll be giving yourself a point of reference so you can truly see if any of the changes you make are creating a difference.  If they’re not, then at least you know that and can change your plan of action and recalibrate.   

    A lot of times we get a little too ambitious when it comes to our new year’s resolutions and try to take on more than we can handle.  This inevitably leads to failure.  Start with the small habits and work your way up the fitness ladder for a more subtle and long term experience.  Good Luck.

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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