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You have no debt. You’re highly organized. You eat healthy every single day. You exercise at least four times per week. You never binge on TV or social media. You sleep eight hours every night. Your life consists only of healthy habits, and you avoid any negative influences that could stop you.
Okay, okay, so you’re not perfect? The good news is that no one is! We all could use small lifestyle changes to become healthier people.
Below, we list the top five habits that healthy people practice regularly. By making a commitment, you can adopt these healthy habits, too. Your goal, however, should be to tackle only one at a time. That is, don’t try to conquer all five at once. Instead, choose one (or up to three healthy habits at most) and follow the 21/90 rule.
What’s the 21/90 rule? It refers to the fact that research shows it takes 21 days to create a new habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle. After you have selected one of the healthy habits below, try to incorporate it into your lifestyle for 21 consecutive days, and then continue until you reach 90 days. By then, it will have become routine.
Healthy Habit #1: Plan Your Healthy Meals
It’s first on the list of healthy habits for a reason. Meal planning is the single greatest weapon to incorporate healthy eating into your daily lifestyle. Not only will you make wiser choices on food selections, but you’ll find that meal planning also will save you a ton of money.
The good news is that meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply write out your favorite meals or browse healthy recipes online. (Not sure which foods are healthy? Download our free guide here.) Try to choose enough meals to feed you and your family for one week—include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Then, write out your grocery list of healthy ingredients.
The great thing about technology is you can purchase your groceries online so you’re not tempted to buy items at the store that you don’t need. You can also look online for sales or coupons to stay within your budget.
If you do shop at the store, stick to your list. And, never, ever go grocery shopping on an empty stomach! Being hungry will entice you to purchase unhealthy sweets and treats.
Healthy Habit #2: Drink Lots of Water
Water is the most essential component of your body, the most essential nutrient in your diet, and something you can’t survive without for more than two to four days. In fact, water comprises about 60 percent of your body weight. Without optimal water, your body can’t circulate all the other necessary nutrients, hormones, and other compounds you depend on. Lack of water will stop biochemical reactions in their tracks, disrupt your metabolism, slow the transportation of substances into and out of cells, and impair numerous other crucial physiologic processes.
How much water should you drink? Try to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water per day. This means if you weigh 140 pounds, your goal should be to drink 70 ounces of water per day. (See also Why Is Drinking Water Important? 6 Reasons to Stay Hydrated.)
Healthy Habit #3: Take Breaks Throughout the Day
This one is especially important if you work at a desk, use a computer frequently, or are prone to binge on social media or television. Taking a five- to 10-minute break every hour will make you more focused and productive. And, it helps reduce stress, which can thwart chronic anxiety or depression.
If you work in an office, go outside and get some sunshine. Or, to get some exercise on top of a mental health break, walk up and down a flight of stairs. Even taking a break to go to the bathroom can help! The key here is to force yourself to take small breaks to do a mental reset. If you need a reminder, set an alarm on your watch or mark it on your online calendar.
Healthy Habit #4: Make “To-Do” Lists
This healthy habit is easy to incorporate into your lifestyle and has huge rewards. Creating lists will make you more organized, productive, and efficient. As you see your list of to-do’s, you can tackle those with higher priority first. This helps you avoid procrastination, which saves you time and money (who couldn’t use more time and money?).
Additionally, making a to-do list can boost your self-confidence. As you cross off items on your list, you feel a sense of accomplishment.
Healthy Habit #5: Sleep Seven to Eight Hours per Night
Not getting enough sleep can have serious effects on your health—weight gain, depression, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. To maintain a regular sleep schedule, try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
Avoid looking at your cell phone or tablet before bedtime as the light can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Last, replace caffeine or sweets in the evening with soothing teas such as lavender or chamomile.
More Healthy Habits
There are plenty of additional healthy habits you can incorporate into your lifestyle outside of the top five:
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid tanning.
- Make a budget and pay off debt.
- Socialize (make friends).
- Declutter your home.
- Forgive others.
- Keep a food diary.
- Have regular check-ups with your doctor.
- Quit addictive behaviors (smoking, excessive drinking, drug use, gambling, Internet, etc.).
- Spend time with your kids/loved ones.
The key is to work on at least one healthy habit for 90 days. With a little hard work and determination on cultivating these healthy habits, you’ll begin to see improvements in your physical and mental well-being. It’s time well spent that you’ll never regret!