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The Habits of the Highly Healthy

The Habits of the Highly Healthy

The healthiest, longest-living people all share many common practices, routines, and habits. It has been said, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” Well let me add that “repetition” is also the mother of health. By consistently engaging in certain habits, you can enjoy a healthier and longer life.

It’s not in your genes. In fact, studies have shown that only about 20% of all people have a true genetic predisposition that places certain limitations on their health and longevity. Could it be that the studies showing hereditary (gene) correlations between parent and child (genes) is more a matter of the parent and child sharing the same conditioning or the same unhealthy habits? If so, then that means that for most people, it’s more of what they do (their habits) than their genes (hereditary traits).

Perhaps, it’s time you throw out your limitations.

Suppose you dismiss the notion of genes that, because of age, sex, ethnicity, or another hereditary trait, you can’t be one of the healthiest men or women on the planet.

By simply completing the same routines and habits of the world’s healthiest, longest-living people, you can easily join their ranks. You can become healthier. You can live longer. Today, it’s possible to live past our average life expectancy of 78.7 years and to do so in good-health. We now have the capacity to live comfortably into our 90s.

So, let’s explore some of the core habits of “the highly healthy” that will very likely work for you too.

Movement

Movement is the 800-pound gorilla.

And, pound for pound, no other health habit comes close to this powerhouse. There’s no denying it; and there’s no getting around it. Your DNA, evolution, and body demand that you move. Your health demands regular physical activity.

The world’s “highly healthy” men and women respect this powerful habit by giving their bodies regular, consistent, physical activity. And, not all “highly healthy” people join gyms or fitness clubs. Many simply choose to:

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  • Engage in natural, functional forms of activity such as, gardening, housework, and yard work
  • Enjoy walking and/or running an average of 30 minutes daily

Highly healthy people appreciate the benefits that only physical activity can provide, such as, increased ability to focus, less depression or anxiety, longevity, energy, and heightened creativity.

Purpose and Connection

Long ago, things weren’t always so easy and convenient for the human race.

In those times, survival often kept people pre-occupied and busy every day. Fast-forward to today, and you find the purpose of “surviving” to be more of an after-thought.

The point is that “survival” has been man’s number one purpose for countless centuries. Without that overriding purpose, you are free to indulge in any number of other “purposeful” activities.

Unfortunately, many people haven’t defined their purpose. And, it’s hard to hit a target you can’t see. So, this often causes some people to feel empty inside, detached, and yearning for something more.

Highly healthy men and women realize that purpose is a void that’s better filled than left empty. That’s why they often:

  • Find something bigger than themselves to focus on, and strive to achieve
  • Work in fields they enjoy, and are more than just financially-rewarding
  • Serve their community, nation, and family

A fast way to finding your purpose is to sit down with a pen and notepad and to start writing. In the center of the pad write, “MY PURPOSE” and circle it. Next, draw four lines. One that extends from the top, one that extends from the right, another that extends out of the bottom, and finally one more that extends from the left.

On the line extending from the top write, “Values.” On the line extending from the right, write the word, “Passions.” On the line extending from the bottom write, “Talents;” and finally on the line extending from the left write, “Skills/expertise.”

Write until your hand hurts – anything and everything that falls under those categories. As you write pay attention to your emotions. Which words conjure up thoughts, laughter, tears, give you goose bumps, or scare you so much you feel as if you may just pee in your pants? See example below:

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Purpose

    Photo: Justin Miller

    Circle those words. Your purpose may lie in them.

    Often times, “the highly healthy” find their “purpose” in maintaining valuable “connections.” Connections are social relationships, and the human race is a social race. Our need for “social” interaction has been hardwired in our DNA over the numerous centuries. Our ancestors were forced to be social in order to survive. Tribes, small bands, communities, and towns all created a social atmosphere, while simultaneously promoting and protecting the well-being of all of its members.

    Social relationships can provide us positive emotions and feelings of well-being like nothing else. And so, “the highly healthy” embrace “connections” by:

    Mindset

    There are several mindset traits of “the highly healthy.”

    Thoughts have long been known to cause profound changes within a person’s body and to the state of their health. Thoughts are what trigger emotions – good and bad. Unpleasant thoughts produce painful, aggravating feelings. Additionally, negative thoughts create stress that manifests in the body and wreaks havoc on every physical aspect of a person’s being. However, pleasant thoughts produce pleasurable, soothing feelings.

    “The highly healthy” realize that their thoughts are better directed than left to roam. Therefore, to maximize their positive feelings, they take the time to toss out any “stinking-thinking” and replace them with positive thoughts. They don’t fall prey to addictions because they actively manage the most powerful pharmacy – their state of mind.

    The result is both better feelings and a healthier body. That’s why highly healthy people:

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    • Show gratitude and give thanks, every day
    • Forgive others, and free themselves from the destructive, negative thoughts that would otherwise constantly fill their minds
    • Accept and acknowledge their fears, but move forward with their life
    • Trust their gut or intuition because they realize that it’s often an excellent decision-maker
    • Bounce back from troubles without seeing temporary setbacks as permanent failures

    Pace

    Success in life, work, and health require effort and planning.

    Yet, few of life’s great achievements happen overnight. Highly healthy people know that becoming and remaining healthy is a process that takes time.

    And that’s why they develop “pacing” habits in order to keep their health in optimal condition. When it comes to joining the ranks of “the highly healthy,” you’ll have to learn to pace yourself… by knowing when “less” of certain things will provide you “more” benefits.

    Less is More

    An important part of pacing yourself involves recognizing when “less is actually more.”

    “The highly healthy” have experienced the pain of having over-committed themselves only to find that despite being involved in several activities, they enjoyed none of them. Moderation is the key.

    And, that’s why “the highly healthy” tend to:

    • Embrace the simple solution vs. the complex approach
    • Avoid trying to be “all things to all people” embracing the power of a positive no.
    • Take breaks throughout their day to relax, nap, socialize, or read. Fifty minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of break-time. Or try the Pomodoro principle.

    Additionally, when it comes to eating, super-healthy people maintain habits to:

    • Stop eating when only 70 to 80% full, instead of stuffing themselves
    • Eat smaller meals with smaller portions
    • Eat less late in the day… and very lightly, if at all, before going to bed

    Enemy #1

    And, in keeping with their mindset of moderation, highly healthy people realize that there are certain foods that are worse than others. Many require you to pace your consumption of them.

    Yet despite attempting to tackle every unhealthy food, “the highly healthy” wisely choose to eradicate the worse food – enemy #1 – sugar.

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    The healthiest people realize that sugar is addicting, and their body functions better and more effectively without it. So, instead of going allowing sugar to destroy their health, “the highly healthy” have habits in which they:

    • Eat moderate amounts of fruits on occasion
    • Indulge in desserts and sweets no more than one day per week, often known as their “junk-food day” or a “day off”
    • Avoid sugar in all it’s hidden forms, including juices, sodas, etc.

    Plants

    Studies have shown that a plant-based diet has many health benefits. A diet rich in the right vegetables has long been known to help reduce a person’s risks for health issues, such as:

    • High-blood pressure
    • High-blood sugar
    • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • And many other health problems

    Highly healthy people have developed the habit of enjoying plant-based foods everyday. And a number of them eat as much as 6 to 9 servings each day. To make it a bit easier on yourself simply strive to eat a serving of veggies every time you eat.

    Prioritize eating veggies every time you eat. One to two fist-sized servings should do the trick. You can use resources like this to help you choose the best ones.

    Shut-eye

    Countless studies and research have been done in the realm of sleeping. Scientists want to know how sleep affects the body. In their sleep studies of humans, they discovered the incredible and essential role sleep plays in our life.

    Getting sufficient sleep can improve:

    • Metabolism
    • Memory
    • Attention
    • Depression
    • Creativity
    • Inflammation
    • Learning
    • Immune Function
    • Longevity

    Highly healthy people are committed to giving their bodies adequate sleep every night. That means these men and women sleep between 7 to 9 hours every single night.

    And, with such a long list of sleep benefits, there’s little doubt why many of the world’s “highly healthy” people are also “highly successful.”

    Join the “Highly Healthy”

    There are medications that actually get rid of bacterial infections and other ailments. However, there has never been… and will likely never be… a magic pill for good health. Instead, it requires each person, to incorporate certain habits and routines into their lives.

    Today, men and women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are running marathons. That’s 26.2 miles, in a matter of hours, not days. So, it’s important for you to realize, believe, and know that there is no limit to how healthy you can become at any age. All you need to do is to embrace and adopt the habits of “the highly healthy.”

    It’s hard to live a limitless life if you can’t get out of bed.

    More by this author

    Justin Miller

    Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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