By Stella Taylor Bergan, Health and Human Performance Coach
A couple of months back, I wrote a compelling Facebook post about the benefits of cleaning up daily habits, and it was a hit leaving friends clamoring for more. My post started like this:
OK, here is the truth – you want to live longer – clean up your habits – nutrition, exercise, sleep, managing stress, and having meaningful relationships.
Want your brain to be healthy – clean up the same habits.
Want to improve your mental health – clean up the same habits.
Want to feel better – clean up the same habits.
Want to look better – clean up the same habits.
Want to perform better – clean up the same habits…
Health is not about the number on the scale or the size of your clothes, it is about your cellular health influenced largely by your daily habits day in and day out.
So, here’s my deep take: many people seek ways to improve their lives. Whether it’s living longer, feeling better, looking better, or performing better, your daily habits are crucial to achieving these goals. In reality, habits are the foundation of your health and performance that can be significantly improved by prioritizing nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and personal relationships. Even though these habits may seem small, they have a combined and powerful impact on your life.
Here are my recommended top five habits that are well within your control to adopt:
- Nutrition: Boost your nutrition with whole, organic foods that provide a balance of protein, fat, and fiber at each meal. My previous post recommends ditching highly processed foods like sodas, sugary foods, commercial juices, packaged cookies, crackers, chips, and alcohol. Try starting your day with warm lemon water.
- Exercise: It’s critical to exercise daily. Walking is a great way to start, and be sure to add some strength training to your weekly routine for maximum impact. See Big Retired Life’s Longevity Workout.
- Sleep: It’s optimal to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. If you struggle with sleep, try The New York Times’s sleep hygiene techniques. For those looking to take it to the next level, check out “Breath” by James Nestor to master the art of nasal breathing. I highly recommend it.
- Manage your stress: No one is immune to stress, but how you manage it makes all the difference. Practicing mindfulness can help. See Big Retire Life’s Coping Skills and Try Meditation.
- Build meaningful relationships: The strength of your social connections is the singular prediction of health. Make time to invest in the people you love. See Big Retired Life’s Cultivate your Social Power.
While it may not be a cure-all, cleaning up these habits will have a profound impact on many areas of your life, such as:
- Improves brain health: Your brain is the control center for your thoughts, emotions, and actions, making it one of the most vital parts of your health. The same habits that improve your overall well-being also work wonders for brain function while reducing the risk of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
- Improves physical appearance: Investing in these habits not only helps keep your weight in check but also improves muscle mass and complexion. Neglecting them, however, can lead to weight gain, acne, and other skin issues.
- Improves performance in all areas of life: No matter the arena ––work, school, sports, or personal relationships––by prioritizing your body and mind, you’ll stay focused, alert, and productive while unlocking greater creativity, problem-solving skills and overall cognitive function.
- Avoids inflammatory illnesses: Research has shown that these habits can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions, and Alzheimer’s.
- Sets a good example for children: By modeling healthy habits, you’re helping your children develop into thriving adults while contributing to a healthier society. Dr. Leonard H. Epstein, a leading expert on childhood obesity at the University of Buffalo, emphasizes, “Parents are very important in terms of arranging an environment and setting a model for healthy or unhealthy behavior.”
- Diminishes Big Food and Big Pharma influence: For decades, Big Food and Big Pharma have controlled the narrative around health in the United States. They fund a significant portion of research, often supporting their interests and biases. By embracing these healthy habits, you’re taking a step towards regaining control of your own health and well-being. Not only will you reduce your dependence on Big Pharma and their often costly treatments, but you’ll also limit your support for Big Food, whose profits often come at the expense of our health.
- Positively impacts the environment and the economy: These habits help reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, by encouraging everyone you know to focus on their health, you help bring down healthcare costs and ultimately reduce the national debt.
Taking care of your body and mind is essential in achieving your goals and living a healthy, fulfilling life. By cleaning up your habits, you can improve your brain function, mental health, physical appearance, performance, and overall health outcomes while setting a good example for your children, helping the environment, and contributing to building a healthier society. Start today to prioritize your health and positively impact the world around you.
Stella Taylor Bergan is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Institute of Motion Applied Health and Human Performance Specialist. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Birmingham-Southern College and her graduate degree from the University of Virginia. Her training as a therapist and a background in executive coaching/organizational strategy provide the foundation for helping her clients make the changes they need to live healthier, more productive lives and perform at their optimal levels. Stella takes an integrative approach to wellness and performance and believes that making small, sustainable changes over time can lead to profound improvements in overall health and performance. She works with some of Silicon Valley’s top executives. She is a mom, an avid trail runner, loves traveling, and really enjoys converting teenagers into green smoothie drinkers.
StellaFit: 650.245.8603 | www.stellafit.com | email@example.com | Instagram: @stellabergan
Throughout the “Top Priorities” section of this blog, we will provide data-backed insights for a long, active retirement.