The human body thrives on regularity and routine. Whether consciously or subconsciously, our brain creates pathways by going through the repeated process of recognising a trigger resulting in a behaviour in order to gain a reward for this behaviour. These are what we call habits.
An understanding of this cycle is powerful, as we can use it to strategically create healthy habits and reprogram bad habits.
For example: wake up (reminder), brush teeth (routine), clean teeth & fresh breath (reward).
Here are my 5 daily non-negotiable habits and the methods I use to ensure that they don’t get left out of my day.
1. Move. Daily.
I believe deeply in getting some form of daily intentional movement each and every day. Whether it’s lifting weights, yoga or a quick walk around the block; the “what” isn’t nearly as important to me as the actual habit of getting up and moving. I also find it simplifies my approach to exercise by reducing the decisions I have to make, as I’m not planning which days to train and which days to rest.
For this to be effective, I’ve created three simple guidelines for myself:
- Train during the first 45-minute block of free time I have. This is crucial, as the later I leave it, the more likely it is that unexpected events will take its place.
- The movement must be intentional, not incidental. While walking to the bus stop technically counts as movement, the point here is to program myself to go out of my way each day to sweat and elevate my heart rate.
- Do light exercise (walking, yoga, etc.) when my body needs rest.
Reminder: The first block of free time for the day
Routine: Work out
Reward: Physical and mental health
2. Prepare meals for the next day
This is key – when I prepare my meals for the next day, I have consistent energy levels, reduced stress and save valuable time that would be otherwise spent deciding and buying food. To make this process as efficient as possible, I’ll prepare my proteins (salmon, turkey, chicken, etc.) and veggies (wash salads, cook vegetables) on weekends so that all I need to do each night is portion out my meals into containers.
The most important part of this process is my trigger; as soon as I get home after work and put down my bag each day and before I even think about taking a rest on the sofa or taking a warm shower, I head to the kitchen and prepare my meals for the next day. Call this the “Bag Down Method”, and you too can use it for your highest priority habit after you get home from work.
Reminder: Put bag down
Routine: Portion out food into containers
Reward: Nutrition on point
3. Soak in the sun
Sunlight is crucial in regulating your circadian rhythm and sleep quality, increases the production of serotonin and gives you much needed vitamin D. This means you’ll be healthier, happier and better rested with some sun exposure. Studies show that non-burning sun exposure will decrease the risk of melanoma, as the cholesterol in the skin gets converted into Vitamin D which has a localised anti-cancerous impact. While Vitamin D supplementation can be beneficial, it is not a complete substitute for sun exposure. Research shows that at least 15-30 minutes (depending on your skin sensitivity) of non-burning sun exposure 2-3 times a week can benefit you greatly.
Reminder: See sunlight
Routine: Soak it in
Reward: Feel happier, healthier and improve body clock
We all know why water is important, so I won’t bombard you with facts about it. I recommend at least 1000ml of water per 30kg of body weight, and another 500ml during your training to feel your best. The two practices I have in place to hit these goals are to have a water bottle with me at all times and sip on it throughout the day and to start the day with 1/6 of my daily water goal. Upon waking, I grab the water bottle that I filled up and placed next to my alarm the night before and put down half a litre straight off the bat. Try this method; starting the day on the front foot with hydration will help boost your fat burning mechanism, improve mental clarity and help to regulate appetite.
Reminder: Turn off alarm
Routine: Drink water
Reward: Feel clearer and detoxify the body
5. Cold shower
Cold exposure has a whole host of physiological benefits including hormone balancing, boosting neurotransmitter production, reducing inflammation, improving mental alertness, vagus nerve stimulation and many others. While these are all phenomenal benefits, the biggest reason I use cold showers as a daily practice is to build mental fortitude. Most good things in life require sacrifice, and this ritual primes my mind to attack challenges head-on and to willingly reject comfort. You can start out by finishing your warm shower with 30-45 seconds of icy cold water – the key is to stay dead still, slow down your breathing and ‘embrace the suck’. A certain mental toughness is cultivated when you acknowledge the ‘suckiness’ of an activity and willingly put yourself through it. I link this habit to my morning water routine, through the use of a technique called “chaining”, which simply means to use one habit as the trigger for a subsequent habit.
Reminder: Drink 500ml water
Routine: Cold shower
Reward: Mental alertness, mental fortitude and improved physiological state
These are what work for me, however, it’s important to pick habits that are meaningful and achievable for you. If you skip a day, get back on the horse the next day and keep going.
If you are in the Hills District including Castle Hill, Kellyville, Bella Vista, Baulkham Hills, Glenhaven, West Pennant Hills, Dural, Rouse Hill and surrounding areas contact us to help you get started on your health and wellness journey. One of our expert coaches will guide you through the process of designing a lifestyle that works for you and moves you daily towards your goals.
We look forward to hearing from you!