Reframing 4 Healthy Habits
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of what’s good for us and what’s bad for us. Everywhere we turn, it’s not uncommon to see contradictory advice. One moment you’re told fat is bad, next it’s announced fat is essential to a healthy body and mind (this is true).
This blog post is here to uncover the right from the wrong, the misleading from the truth, and help navigate your way through 4 healthy habits we should fully embark on.
1. How you sleep is just as important as how long you sleep
Sleep is essential to our well-being. Over the last decade or so the research and availability of resources on sleep has been significant. It’s no secret that quality sleep is critical to enhanced performance, positive mood and vitality. But what does good sleep consist of? What time should we be going to bed? Is too much sleep worse than too little sleep?
Let’s concisely uncover.
It is widely accepted that 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal. Don’t panic if you get 9+ every now and again. Sometimes the body just needs some extra R & R. Extra sleep can even be essential to the system when the body needs it.
An ideal situation is to create a regular sleep schedule. The more consistent you are with your sleep routine, the more harmonious everything in the body and mind will become. The less shock and confusion we supply our bodies, the better.
Sleep also regulates hormones. No surprise there. Sleep is primarily where recovery and rejuvenation take place. Hormones are critical for well-being as they affect appetite, fat storage, mood, stress levels, metabolism, sex drive, skin, and regulatory bodily functions. People who often have trouble losing weight and store access fat, are also typically poor sleepers.
Research has shown a far greater likelihood of weight gain when individuals consistently get less than 7 hours of sleep. And the likelihood of obesity is 89% greater in children and 55% greater in adults who experience short sleep durations.Cappuccio, F. P., Taggart, F. M., Kandala, N. B., Currie, A., Peile, E., Stranges, S., & Miller, M. A. (2008). Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults. Sleep, 31(5), 619–626. https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/31.5.619
Don’t think just because you woke up feeling “okay” means your sleep was good. The science and research is backed up. Don’t slack in this area.
To sleep optimally avoid:
- Sleeping with blue light on (TV’s, computer screens)
- Avoid as much bright artificial light as possible upon going to bed
- Overly stimulating activities an hour before bed (watching TV, phone screens, tablets, stressful activities)
- Poor food choices close to bed (If anything eat foods that are slowly digestible – casein protein, eggs etc. – stop eating desserts, chips and fast digesting carbs so close too bed)
To sleep well:
- Exercise daily – preferably during the day/morning (if evening is a must, get it in)
- Eat nutritious foods
- Have a relaxing night time routine
- Meditate, breath, read fiction before bed
- Sleep in a dark, cool room
- Don’t be sporadic with your sleep schedule
- Set boundaries on work and tasks at home
2. Don’t be Fooled by Lables
‘Light’, ‘multigrain’, ‘low carb’, ‘organic’, ‘no added sugar’, ‘vegetable chips’, low-fat’, ‘natural’, ‘low calories’, are all marketing tools. Yes, these items are probably a bit better than the alternative food choices that don’t even go to the trouble of putting anything healthy on the box, but still, these food items do not mean they’re good for you whatsoever.
Organic sugar is still sugar. Low fat means more sugar, multigrain means the item contains more than 1 grain (that doesn’t mean healthy grains), natural can simply mean the manufacturer worked with a natural source (an apple or seeds) during production.
Plenty of ‘healthy’ looking food choices from a front label standpoint are filled with processed ingredients like corn starch, vegetable oils, and white flours. You have to remember, front of the boxes and packages aren’t telling you what you’re buying. They’re simply selling you an idea.
Stop reading the front of the box
We have to stop reading the front of the box, and instead read the back, which contains the nutrient label and the ingredient list.
Product ingredients are listed by quantity – from the highest amount to the lowest.
A general rule of thumb is to be wary of food items that have more than 3 lines. More than 3 lines usually means they’ve been high processed.
Personally speaking, if a food item has more than 6 ingredients we’re probably dealing with some questionable one’s, generally speaking that is (there are rare exceptions to the rule of course).
Here’s a solid golden rule: Buy the food you’re buying
When you buy beef, make sure the only ingredient is beef – farm raised, grass fed (spices and water are personally acceptable too). When you buy grains, make sure they’re whole grains – not processed or refined, and not filled with flavouring or sugars – JUST WHOLE GRAINS.
- Chicken – just chicken.
- Good oils – just that particular oil.
- Nut butter – just that nut.
- Fish – just that fish
- Typical Isolate Protein Powder – just the protein and amino acids
Pretty obvious stuff, however the majority of the time food companies take advantage of lazy or uneducated shoppers and will add crappy ingredients to reduce the cost, which means the food you’re buying contains less of that actual food. Be aware!
Not all the same foods are made equally
Bread is not bread, just like carbs are not just carbs. I’m using bread as an example here, as it can be so bad for us, but also, pretty good, depending on the source. And bread tends to be a food most people just don’t want to give up (It’s tough to blame them). However, eating crappy bread is no excuse.
There are good carbs and there are bad carbs, just like there are horrible breads and pretty good breads. Foods are made differently. Hence why certain makes of meat, breads, cheeses, yogurts, fish, nut butters etc. are more expensive or cheaper.
Unbleached enriched flour, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, canola/vegetable oils, wheat gluten are not bread, people. Yet many breads consist of just these ingredients. These ingredients are pure crap for the mind and body. Look for breads with pure whole grains, and seeds and nuts. That’s it.
This goes the same across the board for all foods.
Any yogurt with flavouring isn’t a great option. I get it, the plain greek yogurt can be a tad bland or bitter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own fresh toppings to sweeten it up: berries, apples slices, tsp of honey, almond butter, nuts and seeds, cinnamon or cocoa powder are all great healthy natural sweeteners.
Avoid these ingredients:
- Hydrogenated oils (sunflower, canola, vegetable)
- Added sugars
- Enriched flours
- Enriched wheat
- Artificial sweeteners
These items all promote inflammation and poor heart health while reducing energy levels and overall performance, both mentally and physically – disrupting our mood, clarity, creativity and drive.
When in doubt…
Best advice I can give to avoid most of this craziness, is stick to foods outside of boxes. It’s fairly easy to choose foods that are grown from the ground and made from nature. When in doubt, stay out of the isles and buy the foods on the outside of the grocery store – naturally grown and unprocessed.
3. Resistance train … at all ages
Everybody has to know that exercise is good for us and if you don’t, please seek help.
With this being widely known, a lot of people still get afraid of resistance training. Try telling an old person to resistance train and they’ll think your speaking of some form of black magic. Prepare to get an old lady purse swung at you… very, very slowly mind you.
Resistance training novices think the older they get, lifting weights is just too dangerous and slowly dying in pain is a better option. Wrong. Wrong, WRONG! It’s only dangerous if you do it wrong or unintelligently.
Most people that refuse to do some form of resistance training have heard horror stories from their less than intelligent exerciser-friends, neighbours and colleagues, talking about how they got hurt during a fitness class they took or when working out on their own.
Well…You did it wrong.
The misconception most people live by:
Strength training is dangerous and harmful for you.
In actuality, resistance training strengthens the body, it doesn’t weaken it.
We have hip pain, back pain, shoulder pain and knee pain because we lack lean muscle tissue around those joints and muscles. Our body overcompensates for these lacking areas and puts us in a compromised, precarious situation every time we have a daily task to perform at home that requires squatting, lunging, hinging, pulling, gripping, carrying or pushing… notice anything interesting there?
That’s just about everything we do all day long.
Get the point. Good.
If you don’t strength train, every time you do a daily task, you are more susceptible to being injured than the person who intelligently strength trains regularly, using some form of load and a controlled environment.
But Brandon, isn’t lifting weights risky?
Of course there is always a controlled risk when you enter a weight room and lift objects up and down, but risk goes both ways. It’s risky to drive your car like an idiot, jump into zoo cages, and run with the bulls, yet people do it.
These are dumb things to do, and people still do it! Weight lifting is smart aka not dumb.
The irony of it all is that your risk of injury is incredibly higher outside the gym when we’re performing ordinary tasks, when we lack the strength, mobility and functional movement capability to perform tasks properly and safely.
Basically those of us who refuse to resistance train based on the merritt ‘it’s to dangerous’, would rather pull our back out moving that old dusty box of family photos from the basement instead of ‘risking’ our biscuit’ working out – at minimal risk when done right mind you.
Even as young children we resistance train by using our body weight to roll around, climb, run, spin, and jump. Don’t think this isn’t a primal part of our DNA.
Control the risk and be pre-emptive. Develop a strong back and grip. Develop strong glutes, hips, shoulders, and posture. Learn how to move properly. Learn how to distribute weight, be preventative with illnesses like arthritis, chronic fatigue and nagging body pains that will need surgery at age 80.
Best way to get started?
- Ask a professional how to get started, and GET STARTED.
- Seek guidance initially – learn proper technique
- Master body weight
- Add load in a safe, controlled manner
- Practice mindful training and you will greatly reduce any sort of minimal risk
4. More doesn’t mean better, unless you use ‘more’ to your benefit
More stuff, more food, more busyness. This is a life a lot of us live because it’s what we’ve accepted as normal, regardless of how it makes us feel.
At one point in all of our lives I’m sure we all wore, ‘having more, doing more, and receiving more’ as a badge of honour. I know I did.
Heck, I still do way more than I should be doing, that’s for sure. It’s not that I don’t like what I’m doing, it’s just too much at once.
Smiling throughout the day is undervalued.
Down time is healthy for us. This allows us to fill our time with the things we actually look forward to doing, hopefully activities that are stimulating, engaging and fulfilling. Activities that make us smile and feel better about ourselves.
But as I go through life, thinking and learning more about being present, and trying to be as present as possible, I’ve realized “more” is really unhealthy for us. Ironically adopting a less-mindset can actually provide us ‘more’ in a healthy way: more freedom, more time, more growth, more stimulating dialogue, more time to self-reflect and optimize our being.
The more we ‘have to do’, the more stressed, and less present we seem to be.
The balance is to do less of what you think you should be doing, and more of what you actually want to do be doing, for reasons that only matter to you intrinsically – by the way they make you feel during and/or after.
Creating a life that actually makes you feel whole, fulfilled, stimulated, productive, free, healthy, present, happy aware, and connected is the ultimate goal. Anything else is a mere illusion.Brandon Rynka
This illusion comes from believing we want more, but in actuality, realizing what we want more of, isn’t what makes us happier. It only makes us busier, thus masking the idea of true happiness.
As soon as we get away from enjoying those main aspects of life (mentioned above) we have to reassess what we actually want our life to look like and adopt doing less.
Balance is king.
- Have a project or 2 your working on, and stick it out until they’re done before moving onto another
- Find time for more fun – no strings attached – just do things for the sake of pure enjoyment, not for more ‘likes’, ‘comments’, ‘false excitement’
- Know what you like/don’t like doing – do less of the ‘don’t like’ column and more of the ‘like’ column
- Realize more comfort gets in the way of more growth -(a necessity for vitality and vigour)
- Set boundaries for work – money is great, opportunities are fantastic, but ask yourself if the money or opportunity is necessary, and if taken just for ‘more work/money’, will negatively affect other pillars of your life
- Know your baseline – how much money you want to make (knowing anything extra has to really be worth pursuing)
- Everyday create a life of balance, and reflect on the day. The more we reflect, the more intune we’ll become with ourselves: journal, sit with your thoughts, write out pros/cons for the day etc.
This is by no means an easy concept to simply adopt. It’s a mindset shift in need of constant practice and attention. But once you grasp this concept, of doing less to gain more of what you actually want, life truly opens up in a positive, fulfilling way we’ve gone so long without experiencing.