Good Habits May Be the Key to Good Health
Are good habits the key to good health?
I’m sure you have noticed that health and fitness are widely discussed these days. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that there’s more information (and more conflicting information) available today on the topic of health and fitness than at any other time in history.
Health magazines are still around, but we are bombarded with health information everywhere! There are probably tens of thousands of YouTube fitness gurus and celebrities. There are Instagram models who share motivational gym posts several times an hour! Add to that the companies who want to sell you the latest protein-powder or diet aid, and you don’t know who to trust.
There are more people talking about health and fitness than ever! It’s now possible pursue qualifications in health and fitness related fields remotely from home. For example, you could take online nurse practitioner programs.
But for all the endless wealth of information and opportunities out there, what are the approaches that are most likely to yield good health?
There’s a good argument to be made that the whole matter hinges on good habits. And here are a few reasons why.
It’s usually the small, everyday actions that add up to cause significant effects over time
It is generally the rule that small, everyday actions are the things that will have the most significant impact on your life. Do one workout, and you’re not fit. Do a thousand workouts on a thousand consecutive days, and you will be. It’s a cumulative effect.
Often, when people seek to overhaul their health in some major way, they will focus too much on major efforts. They neglect to give due attention to more sustainable and smaller changes that yield real, lasting benefits. We just need to keep doing them over a prolonged period of time. Good habits are the key to good health.
Here’s an easy example
Let’s say you decide one day that your diet is terrible. You’re going to completely change the way you eat. You might choose to follow one of two different paths. On the first path, you could go though the cupboards. You get rid of your hyper-processed foods and ingredients.Then you invest in fresh produce and whole food ingredients. You buy a cookbook and a crock-pot to get into more home cooking.
On the second path, you could empty your entire kitchen of all food except kale. You force yourself to live on nothing but kale smoothies until you’ve lost enough weight to feel “healthy”.
Guess which one of these approaches is going to be more sustainable? In the first instance, you’re working on instilling a good habit which is the key to good health. It can be maintained indefinitely; and that can, therefore, yield major cumulative benefits.
In the second instance, you’re taking a dramatic, painful, overboard action. You’re hoping to get some a quick fix. Generally speaking, you want to avoid the temptation to pursue the “quick fix”, and focus instead on the small, everyday actions.
It’s the habit that really counts, not so much the exceptions. In fact, it’s precisely because of that fact that most diets follow a sort of “80% rule.” You stick to the diet 80% of the time, and not to beat yourself up if you indulge the other 20% of the time.
Most of what we do is, more or less, done out of habit
When researchers investigate the subject of habit, they often make a pretty shocking observation. According to various experts, almost every action we take during the day is a habitual action.
Of course, this makes sense when you think about it for a moment. Do you brush your teeth out of habit, or with intense, complete awareness and concentration? Do you treat making the morning coffee as an in-depth, rigorous, task, or do you just do it out of habit without even thinking about it?
If you drive, you likely found your first driving lesson to be a confusing and potentially harrowing experience. Now, driving likely comes naturally to you. You just “go”, without spending any time trying to figure out how the car’s controls work.
The basic fact is that our minds turn repeated actions and skills into unconscious, or semi-conscious, habits. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have enough attention to go around, and everything would be much too stressful.
The implication of this is, of course, that our habits are a really big deal. They make up just about everything we do. For this reason, dissolving bad habits and instilling good habits, is essential whenever you seek to improve in your life.
This is certainly true of health. If most of what you do in a given day is done out of habit, then what negative health habits might you need to tackle? Smoking? Not getting enough sleep? Going without proper nutrition? Spending your evenings after work lounging around on the sofa?
“Prevention is the best remedy”
An old saying on good health says “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is still one of the most effective and honest proclamations that’s ever been made on the subject of health. It’s easier to stop something from happening in the first place than it is to fix it.
One problem with prevailing views towards health now is that so many of us seem to prefer doing what we feel like. We don’t consider the consequences. Most of us just hope that if something goes wrong, we can take a pill for it or have a surgeon operate on us.
Even though medical technology has come so far in recent times, it’s a bad idea to rely on a “fix.” Yes, a surgical procedure or drug intervention can be life-changing in the right circumstances. But when you’re in a position to stave off a condition from developing, or worsening, in the first place , use preventative methods. It’s a key to good health.
Medication and surgery often get tricky
Consider the fact that surgeries sometimes fail, or have unintended consequences. Often, even if all goes well, they will take a toll on you. Having organs transplanted, or growths cut out of your body, takes a toll on your body.
Likewise, medication comes with side-effects — and sometime those side-effects will have to be endured for years at a stretch if the drug in question is the only remedy available for your particular troubles.
Prevention is always the best policy, if you can manage it. And as you might have guessed — prevention is all about the small, day-to-day health-supporting habits that you engage in, that help to minimize the chances of you experiencing a health crisis. Like I said, good habits are the key to good health.
When you work on developing and repeating certain behaviors on a daily basis things are different. When you do things this way — and particularly if you note down your experiences with different strategies and techniques, in a journal — you are much more able to identify consistent feelings in relation to consistent behaviors.
The important thing is that you shouldn’t be too chaotic in terms of how you organize yourself and how many habits you adopt at once. Try to focus on only a couple of behaviors for at least a month or two, while recording the effect these have on your overall sense of health and vitality. Then, if all is well, add some more. If not, modify an existing variable and check out the effect.
When you repeat certain behaviors, systematically, on a daily basis, you begin to develop a sense of what feels right for you
Generally speaking, you can develop a sense of what feels “right” for your body and what doesn’t. Often, paying attention to these feelings can go a long way toward helping you address potential health issues before they develop and ensure that you stay on the right track. This is another key to good health.
The thing is, this kind of awareness is the kind of thing that you can’t easily develop if you apply different, haphazard strategies and approaches to your health journey. Doing this will likely just result in you struggling to identify which particular behaviors are having a particular effect on how you feel and to what degree your feelings might actually be influenced by other factors in your life.
Just remember that good habits are the key to good health. And when you make small changes, you’ll be more likely to stick with them!