8 Steps to the Healthiest Year of Your Life
An 8 minute read by Jared Graybeal
As we look back at each year, some of us are filled with encouragement and joy for everything we were able to get done and experience. Some are filled with regret for looking at how fast the year went by without accomplishing their goals or getting any further in life. I’m sure we have all felt one way or the other at one point. Some would say that is a part of life, and while we can’t control a lot of what happens to us, there is a lot that we can control. Like our habits. We have all heard the famous saying, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Although that may be true in most cases, I am a firm believer that HOW we start will ultimately determine how we finish. I think if you get in the routine of having enough “good days”, you will be able to look back and confidently say you’ve had a good year. It’s time to take a step in the right direction.
I personally have 15 things that I like to do every day. Since some of them are personal and individual to my life, I have pulled the 8 that I think can apply to everyone. I have taken the time to describe them as well as explain the rhyme and reason behind why I do it!
What’s great about locking down these 8 steps to a better year is that after enough of these ‘days’, they eventually add up, and lead into living a better life. That is ultimately the end goal and what I want for everyone.
5 of these should or can be done prior to going to work or starting your day, whatever that looks like for you.
Steps 1 and 2 takes 15 minutes before you go to sleep.
Steps 3 – 6 takes 45 minutes before your day starts.
Step 7 takes 30-60 minutes and is only needed 3-5 times a week.
Step 8 can take 5 seconds
Total = 1.5 to 2 hours
Step 1: Spend 15 – 20 minutes reading before going to sleep.
- According to the National Sleep Foundation, a relaxing reading ritual can prepare your body for sleep. It also helps your mind separate your sleep time from the stresses of daily living. A winding-down ritual can help people fall asleep faster and enjoy a higher quality of sleep throughout the night.
- Reading before bed can help to lower the body’s cortisol levels by reducing stress. The result? A body with lower levels of cortisol is more likely to sleep soundly, and thus cope with the following day’s stressors more calmly.
- General practitioners in Britain have begun prescribing book reading to patients who suffer from mild to moderate depression and anxiety, and many of these patients report an alleviation of their symptoms as a result.
Step 2: Review your short-term and long-term goals.
- By looking at these every day, even just for a minute, it will continually help you navigate proper decision making. You will do a better job of saying “no” to opportunities that are not conducive to your goals, which will give you more time and energy to say “yes” to the things that do.
- I like to do this before bed, but do whatever time works best for you.
Step 3: Upon waking, chug a bottle of (room temperature) water.
- When you’re not properly hydrated, your brain operates on less fuel and you can experience fatigue or mood fluctuations, which is something I’m sure we would all LOVE to avoid.
- Getting fluids right when you wake up will help your body start flushing out harmful toxins right away. According to Kenneth Ellner, an Atlanta based dermatologist, “Your kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins as long as your intake of fluids is adequate. “
- A 2003 study fromThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking two cups (16 oz., which is a typical bottle) of water upon waking increased metabolism by 30% after 30–40 minutes. Not only does water keep your body lean it also helps with keeping the flow of nutrients and helps get rid of free radicals.
Step 4: Prayer (some may call this Meditation).
- The first half of my prayer is gratitude, or thankfulness. By spending time acknowledging every single thing that you have been given in life, you will immediately be in a better mood, be able to accomplish the things you set forth that day and tackle any challenges that may pose themselves much better. According to Robert Emmons Ph.D., regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25%. I make a point to recognize and thank God for everything that comes to mind, both big and small. Like the sun rising again, my physical capabilities, my senses, my friends, family, home, vehicle, clothes, talents, career, etc. (sometimes this can take a while – but that’s a good thing!)
“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.” – Zig Ziglar
- The second half consists of mentally mapping out my day and speaking life into (or self-affirming) all of the goals I have set and the things I plan to accomplish that day. Affirmations, or positive thinking, can interrupt your maladaptive neuro-nets. The more you do this, the more those nerve cells that are connected to each other start breaking the long-term relationship with your negative thoughts. This literally re-wires to your new, affirming beliefs. Science calls this neuroplasticity and it is the proof behind how powerful this practice can be.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” – Proverbs 18:31
Step 5: Eat (a healthy) breakfast.
- This is literally the most important meal of the day. For people like myself, who work in the health and wellness industry (and actually apply what we know), that is a given. But unfortunately, most people neglect this information and forego this meal on a daily.
- Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences practically every dimension of our being during the course of the day, including how we perform physically and mentally. Breakfast immediately raises the body’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after an overnight fast. It also raises the muscle and liver glycogen stores.
- Studies have shown that children who eat breakfast perform at a higher level in school and are more physically active than those who skip breakfast, ultimately leading to better physical fitness (which is a whole different article in itself). Breakfast also helps increase the ability to focus and reduces declines in attention and memory over the morning hours.
Step 6: Learn something (relevant to your career and/or passions) for up to 30 minutes.
By spending a bit of time increasing your knowledge of your trade, you will naturally go into work each day as an incrementally better, more equipped employee. Doing this every day will eventually and inevitably lead to higher pay, promotions, opportunities, etc.
- The more you know, the more you can help people. No matter what you do for a living, if you want to be successful, you have to consistently focus on how that product or service is benefitting others. By investing a short period of time each morning to learning a little bit more, you will have more opportunities to relay that information to others throughout the day and begin to positively impact the lives around you.
Step 7: Exercise for 30-60 minutes a day for 3-5 days a week.
(If you can) Morning exercise has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. Not only will you feel awake and have more energy after your workout, but your mind will be ready to take on whatever tasks you have lined up that day.
- No matter what time of the day, when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. It’s ideal to do this first thing in the morning, so you can start your day feeling AWESOME!
- By getting a short work out first thing in the morning, you can increase your EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which allows your body to burn more calories at rest throughout the day.
Step 8: Do or say something nice for someone else.
Here are 5 reasons why:
- It promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness
- Helping others leads to a more physically active lifestyle
- It distracts us from our own problems
- It improves our self-esteem and competence
- Studies show that older people who give support to others live longer than those who don’t
- Buy someone coffee
- Send an encouraging text
- Tell someone you love them
- Give someone a compliment
- Teach someone something (vs showing them)
I believe that by implementing these 8 steps every day, you’ll immediately begin to experience a better day, have a better year and ultimately, a better life!
CEO – Superfit Foods