Someone said it takes 21 days to make a habit. I don’t know who said it first but I challenge that you can create a healthy habit in less than 21 days. The trick is to keep it simple. Don’t give yourself an excuse to quit because it’s too hard. Complexity and dependencies are habit killers. Anything that requires too many brain cycles won’t last a week. Just think about the last diet you tried or how you felt staring at tons of gym equipment. Too many choices equals “I ain’t doing it”
My second habit hack is to reward yourself. Not with a piece of cake! Get a massage or a pedicure – something you value that is just for you. We need little motivators to keep us on track.
Stressed and scattered is how I feel on most days. Three children, a husband and a full-time career keep my mind going nonstop. Did I forget a deadline? Am I missing a school event? Who’s dropping off at dance or track practice? It’s a constant struggle to keep up. On top of that, it’s harder these days to combat my sedentary lifestyle. When you sit in front of a screen all day long, you’re not burning many calories.
I know myself well. It feels good to buy a solution like a gym membership or a meal plan. The truth is, nothing works unless I choose to change myself. That’s where the habits come in. Here are three that improve health and give me a small sense of accomplishment.
50 Squats a Day
Why squats? According to my trainer, squats work a lot of muscles. You’ll feel it in your thighs but there’s actually a lot more going on every time you squat. You’re also working your butt, back and core muscles. We squat every time we get up from a chair or the toilet! As we get older, getting up gets harder which is why squats are so important. They are the ultimate strength building exercise. As a bonus squats burn a lot of calories! Add weight and your core engages for stability, your glutes fire and all of your leg muscles are fully engaged. That’s why squats can be a full body workout. Generally, I do body weight squats at home and when traveling. You can add a medicine ball or kettlebell for more weight. At the moment I do 25 twice a day.
Pay close attention to form and avoid injury to your back and knees. Once you get it right, squats are a great habit.
Meditation Twice a Day
Mediation has so many benefits. Stress reduction and increased mental clarity and productivity are my primary reasons. It seems counter-intuitive that meditation can help you get more done each day. Most of us spend countless hours trying to complete tasks and we’re constantly distracted and unfocused. Meditation is a great mind reset that allows us to clear distractions.
Did you realize that meditation does not have to be done sitting crossed legged on a hard floor? Nope, you’re not required to sit like a yogi or a monk for meditation. You can sit on a cushion or a chair just as easily without the distraction of aching ankles and knees.
I recently read Emily Fletcher’s book Stress Less, Accomplish More to learn about the Ziva technique. I’m up to 15 minutes twice a day. That’s all you need to feel a difference in mental performance. Emily doesn’t recommend fancy mats, music or props. You use a simple mantra. I diffuse essential oils during meditation but it’s not required. Oils through aromatherapy can have strong effects on the brain – especially on the hypothalamus and limbic system.
Our bodies are 70% water. Body functions like digestion, temperature regulation and the absorption of nutrients and detoxification require water. So its super important to maintain balance and not get dehydrated. It might seem easy to just grab a bottle of water or carry one but most of us don’t get enough water. When you’re dehydrated, you might confuse the feeling with hunger and eat the wrong foods or too much food. Headaches are often a sign that you need more water.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average woman needs about 2.7 liters of water a day. Some of that comes from foods we eat but the rest should be directly from liquid consumption.
To filter or not to filter?
As a child, I drank a lot of tap water. Bottled water was not as popular and we trusted our water source. These days we’re finding that unfiltered tap water can contain dangerous contaminants. Here are a few but there could be many more.
- Endocrine Disruptors – numerous toxins that are known endocrine disruptors end up in our drinking water. The combination of water contaminants along with other products that mimic hormones can cause serious health issues including infertility, weight gain and other hormone balance problems.
- Lead is a toxic metal that can cause damage to health even at low doses
- Volatile Organic Compounds include a variety of chemicals emitted as gases. There are thousands of products that contain VOC’s. Mattresses, pillows, furniture and rugs are just a few but these chemicals do wind up in our water system and there can be traces in our drinking water.
- Pesticides – Even if you’re not using them on your lawn or around the house, these chemicals get into our water system and can impact health.
Check Environmental Working Group to see what’s in your local water.
What habits have you established? Share with me firstname.lastname@example.org.