We are grossly unhealthy. We already know that. It is essential to point out though.
We aren’t just fat and lazy, our mental health is also complete shit.
According to this article on healthypeople.gov, 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 kids are suffering from a mental health disorder, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between 25 and 34 years old. Yeah, it’s that bad.
So, why is this important?
The current health of our nation reveals that our current approaches aren’t working.
That’s right, our New Year’s resolutions, fad diets, hours spent in the gym once every six months, and weekend day drinking to forget the stress of our day jobs isn’t working. Who’d’ve freakin’ guessed it?
That’s a lot of bad news to take in, so we are going to switch the tone now.
Here’s the good news…
The best way to get healthier is to make it easier – it’s not only possible, it’s necessary.
The path to making getting healthier easier is to create new habits. Easy habits.
Stick around, this is going to be a long guide on creating healthy habits, but it will give us a kickstart on how to get healthier, easier, and in less time.
Whether you want to lose weight, get stronger, or decrease stress, the first thing you need to know is how to create healthy habits.
What does minimalism have to do with it?
Isn’t minimalism just a new fad word? Definitely.
But, that isn’t all it is.
So, to understand what minimalism has to do with creating healthy habits, we have to understand what minimalism is – and equally important – isn’t (at least for our purpose).
Minimalism is not a new style of decoration, it is not a paint color scheme, it is DEFINITELY not organization, and it isn’t just a damn fad.
Minimalism is letting go.
So, what do we need to let go of? I think you already know.
We have to let go of our old ideas about what it means to start being healthy and let go of our old bad habits that are keeping us unhealthy.
Then, we will be able to replace them with the few new ideas and new habits actually required to create healthy habits, giving us better health and more time to do things that are more important than fad workouts and participating in bad habits.
Through taking the steps to create healthy habits, we will also be able to experience more minimalism in our emotions and ideas about ourselves.
When we are healthy and feel good about ourselves, we are able to let go of the stress and negative emotions that come from our bad health habits that are currently creating our unhealthy selves.
We will also no longer constantly be thinking about how we need to start a new diet or begin exercising again, it will become natural to take the right steps rather than the quick steps that ultimately lead to failure.
This can save us loads of time and money and allow us to redirect our attention on more important things.
How are new habits created?
We all know the importance of creating new good habits and kicking old bad habits, but damn it’s hard.
Or is it?
The problem we have faced when creating good habits in the past is that we try to fix everything at once.
Stop trying to build Rome in a day.
We didn’t suddenly go from crawling to running, babbling to talking, or even skinny and energetic to fat and lazy.
We don’t want to hear this, but we cannot accomplish our goals in a day, and attempting to has led us to where we are now.
So how do we fix it?
Create new habits one step, one day, one workout, one pound, one damn percent at a time.
Habits are created slowly.
Don’t rely on willpower and discipline. It’s motivating but it’s deceitful, and will stab us in the back quickly.
Pick one thing to start, something small, bonus points if it’s easy or enjoyable, and pick a time to do it.
Also, don’t just say “I will start tomorrow”, we have to find a specific time, based on our current habits and not the clock to do it (at least not yet – scheduling can be a helpful habit to develop, but like budgeting, it helps to know how we currently spend our time and what habits we have before we just try to write something else into a schedule).
This approach allows you to stack it on a habit you already have, and if it is easy or enjoyable you might be able to stack more habits quicker; but don’t get carried away.
Remember, in the past we have tried to correct our habits and health by making big, life changing changes. One day we were sitting on the couch eating Doritos and the next day we were training to be an IFBB Pro.
It doesn’t work. We are living proof that it does not work.
Take the baby steps, do one thing at a time and focus on making yourself one percent better than you were yesterday.
Rather than trying to be better than others, we have to focus on being better than our old selves.
So, how do we use this information to create habits that will help us become healthier, happier, and frankly, just the people we know we can be but haven’t yet become?
Here are some examples. The best thing to do with them is to pick one and implement it. Then pick another one and do it again.
Simple Healthy Habits
When we set New Year’s resolutions to be healthier, we make several errors.
For starters, we are not specific about what that means, we set the idea in future tense, and we imagine a change that is frankly just more than we are actually willing to commit too, so we just give up. Not to mention, there is nothing significant about the New Year for achieving our goals.
Instead of waiting for the New Year, we can pick a time once a day, based on something we already do, and start doing push ups to failure at that time, starting now.
Does that sound like too much? It would take less than a minute everyday.
The problem is, most people think it actually isn’t enough, so they continue to do absolutely nothing.
Simply by spending a few seconds doing push ups everyday after we pour our morning coffee we can strengthen our shoulders, chest, arms, and core, and by the end of the year, and increase the amount of push ups we can do.
Not to mention, after you get into the habit of doing push ups everyday, you could stack another habit on top like crunches, jumping jacks, meditation, or even a healthy breakfast.
Using this approach allows the creation of a domino affect, allowing us to make substantial changes with time.
For instance, for those of us who are hitting the gym everyday, some push ups obviously wouldn’t make a substantial difference.
However, if we already are in the habit of going to the gym but haven’t changed our diet, we could add a healthy breakfast every morning.
If we do all this, but our stress levels are high, we could add one minute of meditation after our workout.
This doesn’t work in any particular order and will look substantially different for everybody, but the structure allows for substantially more than setting big “goals” that in reality are more of big “wishes”.
So, here are 11 simple habits that can help us begin our journey to becoming healthier people:
- Carry a large bottle of water at all times.
- Drink a large glass of water upon waking up.
- Do a short morning stretching routine after drinking the glass of water or our first cup of coffee.
- Do push-ups to failure at the same time everyday.
- Show up at the gym or home workout area at the same time everyday, even if we don’t do anything while we are there.
- Take a second a few times throughout the day (perhaps at the top of every hour) to take a couple deep breaths, correct our posture, and smile
- Pack a healthy lunch the night before.
- Don’t bring unhealthy food home.
- Do one minute of meditation at the same time everyday.
- When faced with having to make a decision, think or say, “I am a healthy person, and healthy people (fill in the blank)”.
- Go to bed at the same time every night to get the rest and recovery necessary to refresh our willpower so we are able to stick with our healthy habits the following day, and focus on one day at a time.
Pick one, and roll with it. Don’t make it a grand deal, don’t wait until the new year, and don’t take a picture with your new water bottle to make a cute meaningless facebook photo with a caption like “new year, new me”.
Take a small step, take it now, and do it for you.