We often try to break out of habits, as many cause problems or at least prevent the wonderful unknown from occurring. That said, many good habits can nearly put things like your health and productivity on autopilot. When all systems run well and without much intervention on your part, you’re in a great situation, so let’s learn some healthy new habits this weekend.
Upgrade Your Water Intake
I love good water more than any other beverage, but that’s an opinion shared by virtually no one else. Still, even though I enjoy the stuff I forget to drink the recommended number of daily glasses from time to time. How can you remember to drink more? If you just forget like I do, you can program reminders into your calendar. If you need motivation, try the Seinfeld productivity secret to keep you wanting to earn your water intake. If you just don’t drink because you don’t like it, you can employ a few tricks to change your mind. Regardless of your approach, a few months of practice and you’ll stay full hydrated every day.
Improve Your Diet and Level of Fitness
Most people employ a restrictive diet to lose fat and a fitness routine to get a better looking body. There’s nothing wrong with these goals, even if they’re sometimes a little bit on the shallow side, but they routine often fails because we don’t create sustainable, healthy habits.
To avoid this problem in your diet, you need to choose one that actually meets your needs. Needs can include things like chocolate and pizza—in moderation, of course. Diets that make you cut out everything you love won’t work because you won’t have the willpower to sustain them. When you choose your diet plan, find something you can do for life. Move along at your own pace. Chance one part of one meal at a time, and move forward when you feel comfortable with those changes.
With exercise, you have to do the same sort of thing. You can’t just start lifting several hundreds of pounds and running a marathon. Instead, you need to figure out what kind of exercise you don’t hate, do it, and push yourself to work harder as you grow stronger. You don’t need a gym, you just need yourself. When you get strong enough, you can move up to time-conscious but nevertheless difficult cycle workouts to overcome your plateaus. Regardless of your approach, you need to find exercise you don’t hate. Remember: willpower is a finite resource and you’re probably utilizing some of it on your diet. Take it slow. Stay patient. Get in the habit of being active rather than pushing yourself too hard. You need to first create that habit over the course of a few months before so you’ll gain the confidence and ability to really push yourself without getting frustrated.
Most of us want to eat breakfast but often don’t find the time. We end up settling for a cereal bar or a diet shake. Aside from overestimating the amount of time it takes to actually make and consume a healthy meal—about 15 minutes gets you an omelette and a piece of wheat toast, fully eaten at a comfortable speed—we find so many things to take care of in the morning that cooking just falls right off our list of priorities. You can fix that, of course, and get in the habit of eating well each morning. It makes a huge difference in the way you feel all day.
Prepare breakfast in advance if you struggle to find the time in the morning. You can make things like oatmeal and omelets for the entire week in very little time, but make sure you pick food you like. In order to make yourself consider breakfast important each morning you really have to enjoy it. Defrosted eggs may not meet your standards, and so you’ll need to find a meal that does. Once you enjoy it, you’ll actually want to have breakfast and you’ll remember. In the meantime, just schedule a reminder if you often forget.
Sleep Better and More Often
You’ll struggle to find an adult who wishes she or he slept less—or at least felt less rested. Most of us operate with a sleep deficit every day and that leads to all sorts of problems. Here’s a sample: weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even premature death. Are some of these extreme situations? Yes. Are they outside of the realm of possibility of some? No.
So you want to sleep! That’s often easier said than done when you have a lot going on. It’s one challenge to get to bed on time, and it’s another entirely to actually fall asleep when you need to. First, to get to bed on time, it helps to start a shutdown process at least an hour in advance. Say goodnight to your electronics and any intensive activities (even things like chores). Essentially, give yourself a shutdown time before bedtime so you can get ready, leaving you about an hour (or more, if you need it) to relax without anything else bothering you. Then you can engage in quiet activities like reading, meditation, or anything else that doesn’t take much effort and can ease you towards sleep. If you find you can’t wrap your activities up as soon as the time rolls around, set a warning alarm 30-60 minutes earlier to let you know to prepare.
By getting into the habit of removing your distractions, you can concentrate on resolving a variety of sleep problems you’ll be more keenly aware of now that you have time to pay attention. If you just have too much energy to fall asleep at your new hour of choice, it helps to expend a lot of energy prior to your shutdown time. Obviously you don’t want to run a marathon right before bed, but some physical activity a few hours earlier can leave your body in need of rest and help you sleep when the time comes. If you have more serious sleep problems, however, we have a guide to help you take care of them.
Take Care of Your Teeth and Gums
Some of us like to neglect our dental health because we get lazy or impatient, but it takes so little time each day to keep your teeth healthy that it’s kind of crazy we don’t make the effort easily. You need a good habit to make sure you take care of your mouth, but that’s easier said than done.
One of the major problems with home dental care is timing. We have to brush and floss in the morning when we’re rushing to work and again when we’re tired and getting ready for bed. You can’t honestly call about 10 total minutes of effort an imposition, but those measly moments feel that way because of when we make them happy.
The easy solution? Find other times to brush and floss so you don’t feel rushed. In the morning, brush before you eat so you don’t do it right before you leave. Doing so actually works better than brushing right afterwards. At night, wait 30 minutes after dinner and floss then. You can do it while you watch television or, in my case, while you poop (seriously—it’s one of the few wonderfully productive things you can do on the toilet without causing potentially embarrassing problems).
Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!