The big secret to taking care of yourself is all about what you choose to do on a daily basis.
Taking care of yourself isn’t that complicated.
Unfortunately, we make it complicated. We overthink what it means to “be healthy,” we think being productive and effective is all about “doing more,” and most of all, we dramatically underestimate the power of consistency. As a society, we want the result more than we want to optimize the process. We want to be seen as a hard worker more than we want to “work smart” and have more downtime to ourselves. The entire conversation around wellness is almost always rooted in quick-fix diets, apps, and wearable devices, and “life hacks” that might sound like great short-term solutions, but very rarely lead to long-term results.
I’d like to give you a different way of thinking about things.
The big secret to taking care of yourself is all about what you choose to do on a daily basis. That’s it. The same way you have to brush your teeth every day in order to have clean teeth, you have to go to the gym at least four or five days a week to be physically active and “healthy.” The key to wellness isn’t about doing something nobody has ever thought to do before. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
The key to wellness, and ultimately becoming a more effective human being, is all about doing the little things most people know they should do, but don’t.
Here are the three that matter most.
1. Sleep is one of the most undervalued variables in wellness—so make sure you get plenty of it.
So many high-achieving personalities, entrepreneurs especially, think that unless they’re working 15 hours per day, they aren’t giving it their all.
Unfortunately, this level of output just isn’t sustainable. At the end of the day, how many hours you put into your work isn’t the most important variable. What matters is how many of those hours are quality hours being executed at the optimal level. And nothing impacts your performance as much as sleep.
As an entrepreneur myself, I know how difficult this can be—especially when you’re stressed, or feeling like you have a million items on your To-Do list. So I find that getting at least 8 hours of sleep on a consistent basis is helpful. It has to be a habit.
If you have trouble falling asleep though, there are a few easy ways to get your brain to start to calm down:
- Put your phone down at least an hour before going to bed.
- Try not to watch too much TV or anything visually stimulating an hour before falling asleep.
- Drink non-caffeinated tea (herbal teas) to ease into a relaxation state.
- Read, relax, do some sort of calming activity that forces you to slow down.
- A newer tactic, but as CBD continues to become more and more commercially available, this is becoming a popular way to relax the body before bed as well.
2. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine—but don’t overthink it.
Contrasting the importance of sleep, physical exercise is also incredibly important for both the body and the mind.
Personally, I try to exercise at least four or five days per week.
Every morning at 8:00 a.m., I head to the gym. I enjoy intense exercise like CrossFit, mountain biking, lifting weights, etc., and starting the day that way gets you in the right frame of mind for everything else you have to get done. And I put it on the calendar because I’ve found that other people then work around your schedule—employees, team members, even your significant other will see that at 8 a.m., you’re busy.
That, in itself, is a huge hurdle for most people.
The other reason I encourage people to work out in the morning is because, at the end of the day, you can begin to relax. And if you work out in the evening, you’re more likely to stay wired, have trouble falling asleep, and not feel well-rested the following day.
But ultimately, it’s about what works best for you.
3. Make healthy eating a top priority—and avoid fad diets.
“You are what you eat” is such a true statement. And while it might be easy to follow a fad diet for a month or two, most people can’t follow fad diets forever.
Instead, it’s much better to learn about the way foods impact your body, specifically, and build a diet for yourself that becomes a natural extension of your lifestyle. In fact, you should get to the point where you don’t even have to think about what you’re eating. It’s a habit, a way of living, and a relationship you have with yourself.
Second, my rule of thumb is, “If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.”
I wasn’t always a healthy eater, but a few years back I started to really notice how so many health issues for people stemmed from what they were eating. Diabetes, heart disease, the list goes on and on, and most of them weren’t the result of lack of exercise but a poor diet.
That’s what made me start to become more mindful of what I was putting in my body. I started with simple things like just cutting out sugary drinks, and now try not to eat foods that come in a box or can, and only eat fresh foods, lots of vegetables, lean proteins, and not too many carbs. Even just those few simple rules have made a huge difference. And then, I’ve also found that cutting out alcohol during the week really helps keep me focused and energized over the long term.
All in all, it’s really not about sticking to a “diet.” Eating healthy, and being healthy, is about finding habits you can do for the rest of your life.
It has to become your lifestyle.