It’s time to go from a creature of habit to a creator of habit. Habits are important, but some need to take priority over others.
I would argue that, as adults, we spend the majority of our time as it pertains to habits thinking of ways to break the ones that cause our body or mind or spouses anguish and harm (it took my wife nearly five years to help me to stop biting my fingernails). We all know someone who has had trouble quitting smoking or laying off sugary drinks, and the list goes on. But how much time do we focus on creating habits?
If we can make the switch from deleting the detrimental in our lives and repeating that which enlivens us, we can truly unlock the happy and healthy potential lying dormant within us. There have been numerous articles which have noted that one must only complete an act for two consecutive weeks in order for it to become a habit. Think about it: how daunting is running a mile for the first time if you have never run before? Now compare that with the fifteenth time you ran a mile. Which one was easier? Seems pretty simple. But, perhaps you don’t know what habits you really need. Never fear, I have some ideas of my own. Below you will find some examples of the habits I have incorporated into my life that have helped to keep me more active, healthy, and productive.
The Hydration Habit
I know water is not always the first thing we’re thinking about as we dash out of the house to work or school or the gym, but it should be because, well, without it, we die. And sure the large iced green tea we have with lunch has water, as does the extra-large soda from the convenient store. But which form of hydration serves you? Imagine you are going for a run and you know you need to hydrate. What do you think will increase performance, soda or water? The answer is obvious, so I will not insult you with it. But, seriously. Drink water. Your body craves it. I make sure to drink 16 ounces of water to start the day prior to my breakfast, and I do the same right before bed. Those two habits were hard to make at first, but now I don’t even think about them. It’s like putting my shoes on and taking them off. Make water a habit, and you will definitely reap the benefits.
The Gut Health Habit
When I first went vegan, I was at a loss for what I could do about my gut health. Frankly, I loved yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt. I ate it every day for breakfast. But, luckily my search for a substitute (not in consistency but in function) yielded a new favorite for me. Kombucha. It’s one of my favorite things ever. It is vinegary and sweet and carbonated for those soda lovers! I reward myself with a bottle of one these bad boys every day, and through the sheer advent of giving myself something to look forward to midday, I have created a healthy habit. Though, if you haven’t the fridge space or the taste for drinking an entire bottle–––to each their own–––you can do the following in the morning: mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with the juice of one lemon, and either a bit of molasses or agave nectar and then drink up. This recipe is great for the promotion of gut bacteria that, through symbiosis, keeps us going strong as well as aids in digestion.
The Flexibility Habit
This is one whose importance cannot be stressed enough. A lot of us live sedentary lives or through the virtue of our professions are forced to sit for extended periods of time. The issue is then compounded when we go to the gym or for a run without proper warm up and cool down stretching. For dog lovers: envision your dog waking up from a good night’s sleep. Does he simply wake up and go straight to food bowl or the back door to be let out? No, he takes a deep, prolonged stretch, being sure to hit every muscle and joint in his body, before shaking it off and proceeding to trot off to be fed or do his business. Take this lesson from the aptly-named best friend and apply it to your life. There is nothing better for strength training, running, yoga, you name it, than increased flexibility. And that is a delightful perk of this habit.
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The Green Habit
The easiest of them all. If you are eating a plant-based diet and not taking it upon yourself to enjoy some greens every day, you need to do some soul searching. Our bodies crave greens. Kale, spinach, collards, romaine, peas, spirulina, jalapeños, seaweed–––the list is eternal in both varieties and health benefits. Throughout my vegan journey, I have begun to crave greens, but I understand that not everyone is wired this way. So, take the path of least resistance. Spinach essentially melts into any hot dish you make without disrupting flavor Spinach adds the amazing benefit of vitamin k and iron! If getting greens is hard to do, try an amazing supplement like Sunwarrior Super Greens. On some mornings. if I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to make a proper breakfast, I throw a scoop of Sunwarrior Super Greens into a blender with a banana and almond milk, and I’ve got an awesome and easy smoothie to boost me up for the day. However, you choose to do it, for your health, make it a habit of going green at each and every opportunity.
These are just a few examples of the many habits I have striven to incorporate into my daily life in order to optimize my health and athletic performance. I challenge you to try out these habits for two weeks and see for yourself how easy they become, how much better they will make you feel, and how they impact your capabilities.