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7 Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle

7 habits of a healthy lifestyle

‘Tis the season again to start making resolutions for 2013, that we hope to begin on January 2nd only to break by January 15th, vowing to live a healthier lifestyle, watching our diet, reducing our stress levels, etc.   The reason we don’t keep them are many.

The first reason we don’t keep them is because we make too darn many and we suck at multi-tasking.  Even if you think you can do it all, trust me, something is falling through the cracks.  If you try to incorporate resolutions into what you are already doing instead of figuring out what you are doing wrong and exchanging a healthier activity for the less healthy one, you are bound to fail.  Most resolutions are made without thinking clearly about what is really going on in your life, what needs to change, what you are doing right, and what needs tweaking, so trying to make things better is setting yourself up for failure. Very simply. Failure to make a plan is a plan to fail.

There are many ways to keep resolutions for a healthy lifestyle; putting a price tag on your failure (make a bet with someone and be ready to pay if you don’t stick to a plan), making small goals instead of  focusing solely on the end results, and finding yourself an accountability partner who can help challenge you on the days you lose your motivation or enroll in a coaching program such as our 21-Day Reset, Recharge and Renew Plan (details to be released shortly) or our total life balancing Total Health Makeover 6 month program.   Both of these programs will be available very soon and will encourage you to take charge of your health on all levels and balance from all angles of life. For more information or to sign up in advance of the release feel free to contact me.

There are 7 habits that people who live healthy lifestyles all have in common.  These habits involve self-mastery as well as mastery over our interactions with others and our perception of the world.

Habit 1: Pick your battles

We are all inundated with potentially stressful situations every day however there is a brief moment where we have the unique human ability to choose our response. Unfortunately, we have  all been conditioned throughout our lives to react in certain ways to certain circumstances, and by reacting with conditioned responses, we give up our precious ability to choose the outcome.

For example, if someone is rude or inflammatory to us, our conditioned response would generally be to respond back, at the very least, with annoyance and sometimes even anger.  Instead of giving in to this conditioned reaction, we can choose to not let it bother us, or even better, we can choose to understand and forgo the tension. If we can choose positive, or at the very least, neutral responses it has the power to bring us closer to our goals and  increase the boundaries of what we can control. On the other hand, poorly chosen responses, or conditioned responses that are merely thoughtless reactions, will likely bring about negative consequences and shrink our scope of influence. This generally leads to feeling more out of control over your lot in life when, in reality, our responses often shape our perceptions and, indeed, even determine success or failure.

Take responsibility for your health

Poor health and disease are at an all time high and many of us assume this as a normal part of aging. Many people accept the burden of their poor health and the compromised quality of life that comes along with it as something that just “is” instead of something that can be controlled. They put themselves into the hands of doctors and pharmaceutical companies instead of taking an active role in their own self care. This is a prime but unfortunate example of a conditioned reaction.

Instead of accepting poor health or chronic disease as your fate, be proactive by challenging the notion that you are a helpless victim and take responsibility for your health by carving out and living a healthier lifestyle.

I went through life thinking that I had no real control over my health until one day I got really sick.  Doctors handed me prescription after prescription that just didn’t work.  Once I realized that sick was not a normal state for me, I took matters into my own hands, radically changed my diet, changed my doctors, started a yoga and meditation practice and inevitably went back to school to become a holistic nutritionist and then a holistic health coach so that I could teach others to become the masters of their own health. There was no room to feel sorry for myself.  If I were to get better, I had to be the one to teach my body how to nourish itself again, inside and out. I now have a family and am working on growing it, (even though doctors said it was never going to happen for me to conceive) and living my passion helping others do the “impossible” and take back their health and their lives.

Habit 2: Create and visualize your “end game”.

Get clear on what it is you really want.  Take time to visualize what it is you really want to achieve whether it is balanced health, more money, to be more organized, or creating an entirely new life, allowing yourself to really be clear about exactly what you want in your life will help you create a plan to get there.  Writing this end game down or creating a board in which you have cut out pictures of your ideal life (a vision board) will allow you to keep it fresh and clear in your mind.

Once you have your end game expressed you will be able to make smaller goals that ultimately will help you reach your desired result.  Taking stock of your smaller achievements will show you how much further you have to go in making your goal. Also, having a clear understanding of your goals allows you to make smarter decisions that are more supportive of achieving them.

Begin with Your Health in Mind

The health you have as you grow older will be exactly the culmination of all of your health choices up to that point.  If you wish to be physically active, mentally sharp and full of energy in your old age, the decisions you make today and every day after should be heavily influenced by this desired result.

Poor health and disease did not happen overnight. While you may not feel as if your health is compromised, your daily habits may still be promoting disease through chronic inflammation and acid forming diet, and if they are, they will eventually catch up with you. It can be extremely difficult but luckily never impossible to reverse the damage caused by unhealthy habits which is why the lifestyle you choose today should be lived with the best possible health choices to positively affect your health in your golden years.

Habit 3: Get your priorities straight

There are only 24 hours in a single day and if you don’t manage your time wisely, many of the things you hope to accomplish will never get done.  Mastering the first two habits will teach you to commit yourself to action and getting clear on your desired end result but you must then have a clear understanding and the discipline to match in order to prioritize the actions that will help you achieve your goals. Without this, you’ll end up wasting time on frivolous activities and your goals will become much harder to achieve. Luckily, by taking small steps to increase your productivity (setting timers for tasks, uninstalling “Angry Birds”, and creating a definitive schedule for Facebook, Twitter and other social networks), you will find it gets easier to stick with priorities that really matter.

Make your health your number one priority

Certain aspects of living a healthy lifestyle are often thought of as restrictive, time consuming, or just plain difficult. If you attempt to follow a lifestyle that is too restrictive and complicated, you will certainly become burned out and frustrated,and will more than likely return to your old unhealthy habits sooner than later. This is not inevitable, however and full preventable if you  invest your time and effort wisely by focusing on adding in healthier activities and nutrition instead of on taking away the negative aspects of your routines.  Slowly, the good will crowd out the bad.

For example, let’s say you hate the gym.  You decide to embark on a healthy lifestyle so you sign up for a gym membership.  You go and buy trainers, clothing, all the bells and whistles of what going to the gym entails.  You even go for a week, two, maybe even a few months.  Slowly you remember that you do not like running on a treadmill, can’t stand waiting in line for the weight machines or jockeying for a position in Zumba class.  You cut back your time at the gym, at first by 10 minutes then by a day until one day you realize you have stopped going.  What you really do like is to be outside.  Instead of going to the gym, make time to take a 20 minute walk outside after or during lunch or after dinner and pick a place to walk that you love.  If you like shopping, going window shopping is a great way to get your exercise and figure out what you’ll buy when you lose those 5 pounds.  You work at a desk all day so why not create a standing work station or bring a pedal bike for under your desk.  Building in 5 minute stretch breaks for every 20 minutes of work, reaching down and touching your toes while picking up the kids clothes off the floor, parking your car further away from the entrance from the mall or taking the stairs those three flights up to your apartment instead of the lift are fantastic ways to build in exercise and not have to step foot in a gym.

With food, instead of going cold turkey on all your favorite foods, perhaps you choose to add in a green smoothie or juice, use spinach instead of romaine lettuce in your wraps, or start buying free-range chicken instead of that supermarket Tyson rubbish that passes itself off as chicken.  You try one new vegetable or fruit a week.  You commit to one meatless meal in a week.  Then, you start to notice that you are getting more satisfied including foods that you don’t have as much room as you normally would for junk food.  There are many ways to make eating healthy delicious so you never feel deprived.  Being healthy does not have to be painful and, despite all your protests, there is life after Oreos.

Still there is such a thing as needing balance in your life. It is impossible anyone will stick to a rigid diet or exercise routine if there is little to no enjoyment to justify the other 90% of healthy choices. For example, occasionally staying up late to socialize with friends can lift your spirits and keep you motivated to stay healthy, but staying up late to watch television simply because you don’t have work the next day is nothing but a waste of time that will undermine your efforts for better health.

Widen your circle

While the first three habits inspire development from within, the next three build effectiveness through interaction with others. Once you have become disciplined enough to be  effective at progressing towards your goals, being able to keep your interactions productive and positive can add a new dimension to your progress and fulfillment.

Our relationships with others are the building blocks to some of the most significant and meaningful experiences in life. Trust is generally what keeps such relationships strong and is built from commitment and positive interactions. Think of our relationships with others as an emotional bank account representing the balance of trust we maintain with someone based on the positive and negative interactions we have with them. The next three habits are about building and maintaining a positive trust balance in your emotional bank account with deposits of trustworthy and thoughtful actions.

Habit 4: Cultivate a win/win scenario

We all naturally use personal gain as a strong motivation in life.  Because of this fact most problems or challenges that affects others is best resolved through a solution that benefits everyone involved.

Many people only care about “what’s in it for them”  and pay little attention to the effects that their decisions have on others. These people are limiting themselves, often without realizing, because it is far more difficult to achieve goals without the help and support of others. In some cases,even impossible.  Eventually, in time, even these people realize they need help from those around them but because they have a tendency to be self-centered and imposing, they are unlikely to get it.

On the other hand, many people pay too much attention to the welfare of others by sacrificing their own wants and needs in order provide benefit to the people around them. While this may curry favor from others, it often prevents others from having to take responsibility for their own actions to reach their goals in life.

Rather than compromising on your own values or those of the people around you, the best solution is to make an additional effort to creatively identify a course of action that will benefit everyone involved.

Look for a win/win with your health

With the many distracting and negative influences of our society, it often requires a lot of discipline and motivation to achieve and maintain good health. Having the support of the people around you makes it significantly easier. In the same regard, if you allow your healthy lifestyle to impose on the lives of others,  you might find they resist your healthy lifestyle changes or risk alienating them which makes your pursuit of  a healthy lifestyle more difficult.

Your family members tend to be your most important relationships and have the most significant potential for providing support and it is important to have them on your side. Better health is an obvious win for yourself, but your effort to achieve it may be a source of contention among your family members.   However, if you handle the situation intelligently, your ambition for better health has the potential to be a big win for your family as well.

For example, your healthy lifestyle may be adding to your spouse’s cooking responsibility by making him/her feel she must cook unfamiliar foods or entirely separate meals for you.  You may be less likely to partake in some unhealthy activities or eating unhealthy foods that your family may enjoy. They may, however, see that your energy level and mood improves making you much easier to be around which may inspire them to adopt some of their own changes in their health habits. If you help them realize how they’ll benefit from your healthier lifestyle, they’ll be more likely to support it instead of resisting it.

Habit 5: Understand to be understood

Stubbornness and an unwillingness to at least acknowledge another person’s viewpoint is the number one reason many relationships erode. Stubbornness is something with which I struggle both as a health care professional and a wife and mother and I work on it almost every day.

When someone opposes an opinion that you hold strongly, it’s often a natural reaction to push your opinion harder. This is often met with further opposition and can cause a downward spiral that leads to an ugly argument or even a damaged relationship. The only way to avoid this situation and turn it into a productive conversation is to make an emphatic effort to understand the opposing point of view before arguing against it. In many cases, you’ll either find that the opposition was based on a misunderstanding, or you’ll learn something new.

The fact that we all can have differing opinions helps to advance society and make life more interesting. It also guarantees opposition. This is completely acceptable as long as you make a clear effort to understand and relate to the opposing opinion and come to civil and respectful agreement to disagree.

Seeking First to Understand Better Health

In pursuit of better health, it is a virtual certainty you will come across many varied  differing viewpoints and suggestions, even from doctors and health care professionals. Many opinions will be diametrically opposed to each other. The profit based motivations of big business tend to make these different viewpoints even worse, often fostering more confusion with every new diet book published. Health related opinions tend to be debated with great passion, and as such, it greatly increases the need for effective and considerate communication.

The other day we talked about what happens when food becomes a doctrine rather than merely a dietary choice; when people polarize instead of sharing knowledge.  {See When Food Becomes a Religion}

To arm yourself with the knowledge you need to improve your health, the need to learn from others remains inevitable. To get the most out of these learning opportunities strive to understand the information presented before questioning it and be clear about the reasons you are questioning what you are learning. Then weigh the explanations given against other arguments and different viewpoints.  At the end of the day, inevitably, with the right guidance, your intuition will kick in and you will “know” which viewpoint is right for your own path to wellness.

Habit 6: Harmonize to synergize

Synergy is often a result of the previous two habits. When all parties are focused on finding a solution that will benefit everyone, and when each varied opinion is taken into account, the result is usually a series of creative possibilities and opportunities that would have never been conceived independently.

Creating synergy in your health

The human body is a complex organism and there are still many questions still unanswered by modern medicine.  Many health conditions, as a result, may seem impossible to resolve. A one sided approach to resolving any health condition is never as effective as the treating the condition with a synergistic approach.  By listening to all the angles given by the varied opinions of health care professionals, doctors, even family and friends we often open the door to new ideas and opportunities for improving or, indeed, even renewing our well being.

For example, in treating an autoimmune illness which is almost always an inflammatory response triggering immune responses, which is often caused by long term acidity, often caused by years of a Standard American Diet, it is not enough to cut out all sugar and grains (indeed cutting out all grains may not even be necessary with your metabolic type) may not be the only answer to treating the underlying condition.  Malabsorption of trace elements, vitamins, and minerals may be a factor, as insulin resistance, a buildup of candida, and many other factors might contribute to the perpetuation of the illness.  Many will tell you a raw vegan diet is the only way to treat the underlying issues, however, for some people, too much raw food may exacerbate other issues.  If the malabsorption issues are strong enough, supplementation might be needed along with chelation of the blood to bind with factors causing malaborption.  Others will tell you a Paleo diet is the only way to go, however, if your genetic structure and blood type lean towards needing more vegetables and less protein, eating that much meat may cause other health issues.  Cutting out gluten does not guarantee good health if you have no sensitivity to gluten.  With all the “magic bullet” theories out there,  all the angles must be examined, questioned and then adapted to meet your particular needs.

Habit 7: Stay sharp, focused, and maintain balance

Being effective is being able to make intentional progress towards an established objective. The previous six habits provide the tools you need to promote balance and development within the physical, spiritual, mental and social aspects of your life, and in turn, become a more complete and effective person.  Staying sharp and focused is about continuing your growth by maintaining this balance.

Keeping our bodies healthy is key in our ability to enjoy life to the fullest.  Being spiritually at ease by having a firm grasp on our values and inspirations allows us to guide our lives in the direction of what we wish to experience. Staying mentally sharp and expanding our knowledge increases our ability to understand and recognize our spirituality and to keep our lives on track with the direction it provides. Finally, social interaction is one of the most satisfying aspects of life and gives us a feeling of belonging,  provides fulfillment, and in turn, promotes better health.


6 replies
  1. Rosann
    Rosann says:

    Jacqueline, I found this fascinating to read. My hubby and I don’t make New Years resolutions, but rather goals. We write them down on New Years Eve, discuss them together, and carry each others goals in our wallet so we can hold one another accountable throughout the year. One thing we have to be careful about is having too many, because then failure is almost bound to happen. But also, that our goals are realistic based on our schedule, finances, present state of health, etc… I know for sure we both have a strong desire to get back to the basics of using our food scale, tracking what we eat in MyFitnessPal app, and introducing family walks each day so we can all be active together. Me personally…I’m craving running. I haven’t for so long due to injury, but I think I’m well enough to lace up my Asics again and feel the runners high.

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      Rosann, I don’t actually love the word resolution simply because it implies being able to break them. I LOVE the way you make your goals and write them down on New Year’s Eve and you do this with your husband. That’s such a marvelous support system. I like the idea of using your food scale too because so many people don’t actually know what a serving really IS and way overeat even if it is healthy food! You’ve inspired me to do the same regarding finances and scheduling!

  2. Lynn Reilly/Perspective Parenting
    Lynn Reilly/Perspective Parenting says:

    This is excellent! I feel so rejuvenated when I make New Years Resolutions, especially because my birthday is shortly after the first of the year, I really feel like the year is a fresh start and ready for change. I think it’s so pry ant how you mention incorporating small changes instead of huge ones. Making bite size goals increases their ability to be met and decreases the pressure for unrealistic perfection. My goal/resolution is to visualize more of what I want and wait less to ensure it happens. Such an inspiring post!

    • thedetoxdiva
      thedetoxdiva says:

      I LOVE your resolution Lynn! I think waiting around to see if something happens wastes a lot of time in actually getting closer to your goals!!

  3. Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club
    Courtney~Mommy LaDy Club says:

    I am just a goal setter by nature, so New Year’s as a marker doesn’t really apply to me. Every day I assess my long and short term goals, and have since I was a kid. A good habit my parents taught all of us. This year, I am planning to widen my circle, which I am only able to do by hiring people to lighten my load. I’m taking a risk and leap, but I think you have to do so to actually move forward.

    I saw an amazing ad the other day that really spoke to me. A Japanese family wanted to make soy sauce for the world from their family recipe, and they approached some American business men in Wisconsin in the 1970’s. It required a huge investment and risk of building the factory to produce the product, as well as the vision and bet that people would want this new and different food. (You never really know if someone will buy what you create.) All of these men are now in their 80’s in the ad, reflecting back on that huge risk they took in life. The product and the Japanese family name is “Kikkoman”. I just love the real human story and drive behind it;)


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