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7 Habits of the Healthiest and Happiest People

7 Habits of the Healthiest and Happiest People

Want to maintain optimal health and optimism? Here you go.

They Sometimes Say “No” to Something They’d Like To Eat (or Drink)

As most people know and are sad to acknowledge (me included), a lot of things that taste awesome are terrible for your health and cause a lot of damage when we eat them. Sugar. Wheat. Alcohol. To name a few. It takes effort to exercise discipline, to not always eat everything you want to eat.

Grabbing and devouring everything delicious is the path of least resistance.

It’s also the path to way lesser overall health, weight gain, and more disease.

People who are the healthiest will regularly say “no” to certain things that, in their minds, they’d like to eat. Maybe they already ate a piece of chocolate, so they say no to the cookie. They didn’t eat super healthy yesterday, so today, they say no to all things bad for them. They splurged and had a rare slice of cake on Saturday? They stay away from desserts for the next few days.

This is what being healthy means. Making thoughtful choices. Being mindful of what’s going in your body (and when). And not always saying “yes.”

They Focus (Most of the Time) on the Big Picture, Rather Than Right Now
If we all focused only on right now, we’d probably never work out, because we’d rarely be in the mood. The couch, which is more appealing, would always win out.
We’d always eat the cupcake and the donuts on offering and never say no.
We would forgo standing since sitting is easier.
We’d stay out drinking all night, since who cares, and it’s just one night (though funny how it happens again the next weekend…and then the next one too).
You get the idea.
Creating and then maintaining great health often means looking to the big picture of what you want, as opposed to just living impulsively in the moment.
They Exercise Every Day (or, Nearly Every Day)
According to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition“Adults need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve their health–aerobic activity and muscle strengthening.”
It is recommended that you perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. This, paired with two days of strength training per week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the following two examples:
  • Brisk walking (aka, essentially, moderate cardio activity) for 150 minutes every week (i.e. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) and muscle-strengthening activities (aka, weight lifting) on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups
  • Jogging or running for 75 minutes every week (intense cardio) and muscle-strengthening activities (weight lifting) on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups

Pick one of the above options. Better yet, pick the harder and more challenging one. Do this every week. Even when you don’t feel in the mood for it. Because you’ve got the long-term, bigger picture in mind of wanting a fit, able-bodied, healthy life.

They Make Sleep a High Priority
Turns out that more than two-thirds of us are not getting the recommended eight hours of necessary sleep each night. That probably doesn’t shock anyone. However, what may surprise you is the havoc and damage this wrecks upon all areas of your physical and mental health.
There is not one major organ in the body or process in the brain, that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep (or, detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough).
Here are some of what happens when you don’t get at least 7-hours of sleep (though ideally, 8-hours) every night:
  • Routinely sleeping less than seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer
  • It’s a major factor in whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease
  • Inadequate sleep-even just moderate reductions for one week- disrupts blood sugar levels so significantly that it puts your body in pre-diabetic levels
  • Not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure.
  • Sleep disruption further contributes to all major psychiatric conditions, including mental illness, depression, anxiety, and suicidality.
  • Too little sleep swells concentrations of a hormone that makes you feel hungry, while simultaneously suppressing a companion hormone that otherwise signals food satisfaction.
  • Attempting to diet and not getting enough sleep is futile since most of the weight lost will be lean body mass and not fat
  • The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life span
  • One person dies in a traffic accident caused by drowsiness every single hour in the US. Further, vehicular accidents caused by fatigue exceed those caused by alcohol and drugs combined

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a sleep loss epidemic throughout industrialized nations. Don’t be a part of this. Make it a top priority to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep, every single night.

They Manage Their Mental and Emotional Health
The healthiest people keep a close eye on this. They notice their stress levels and do things to keep them in check (deep breathing, exercise, meditation, talking to a loved one when needing emotional support, seeing a therapist sometimes, spend time with great friends, not working too much, etc).
Stress causes all sorts of problems, from high blood pressure to weight gain, heart problems, depression, and more.
The healthiest people know this and pay careful attention to making sure this isn’t a thing in their lives regularly.
They Don’t Sit For Hours During the Day
The human body is meant to move frequently and throughout most of the day.
Walking, even jogging, jumping, striding, standing some, with very minimal sitting. Humans originally spent much of their time engaged in a variety of movements (hunting, gathering, tending to children, building things, etc).
Sitting around all day in front of computers is a relatively new thing over the last few decades, and it’s terrible for our health, physical and mental.

Sitting for hours every day will do these things to your body:

  • Weaken your butt and thigh muscles
  • Cause pain in your neck and back over time
  • Put you at high risk for blood clots
  • Cause murkier thinking and lesser mental capacity
  • Can contribute to depression and anxiety

Some researchers are even calling sitting down “the new smoking.” As in, it’s nearly as harmful, if not equally so to your body as smoking is

Experts say that people who sit for long periods have a 147 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

Research suggests that people who spend more time sitting have a 112 percent higher risk of diabetes.

Sitting for long periods can lead to varicose veins or spider veins (a smaller version of varicose veins) because sitting causes blood to pool in your legs.

You get the idea. It’s not a pretty picture.

The healthiest people know this and, even when they don’t always feel like it, they make sure to stand much of the time, and to move around often throughout their day.

They Eat a Highly Nutritional Diet
The grocery store aisles are littered with all manner of enticing, highly processed, chemical-laden snacks. From Doritos to Cheezits, candy bars, sugar-laden juices, cookies, cereals, pastries, boxed cake mixes, soda, sugary yogurts, salad dressing, tomato sauce, cakes, you name it.
Most of this is terrible for you.
The foods to eat are things like: fish, chicken, turkey, small amounts of red meat, eggs, all manner of vegetables (raw and fresh are ideal), sweet potatoes, fruits (again, fresh is best), nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc), and healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and such.
Rice or pasta made with rice flour is ok in small amounts, maybe once or twice a week, though shouldn’t be eaten daily. It’s largely empty calories, it does spike your blood sugar some, and it can lead to needless weight gain.
The food you eat routinely should essentially be in its pure, natural form.
 These are the foods that are medicine to your body. 

Foods such as sugar, wheat, soda, lots of processed stuff, and alcohol, are essentially poisons to your body. And they will contribute heavily toward disease for many people.

And this isn’t always easy. In fact, in many moments, staying the course on eating super healthy will require willpower and strength.

However, make the mindful, stronger choice and consume things that contribute toward fighting disease. The healthiest people know this, that foods and drink will encourage utmost health and thus, their longest and most vibrant life.

 Source | Photo by: Jose Mizrahi on Unsplash 

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