The Other 23 Hours: Cultivating Healthy Habits
Developing habits to workout, eat well and sleep properly are easy, but there are many areas of our life where cultivating healthy habits is essential to our long term well being. Here are 4 additional areas of your life focus on.
“Cultivating healthy habits is hard, but being weak, feeble, fragile, sickly and/or diseased is much HARDER!”
Training is pretty much fine tuned. CHECK! Eating nutritious whole foods, organic or wild when at all possible. CHECK!
Managing to get 7+ hours of sleep almost nightly. CHECK! Still feeling like something, somehow is missing. CHECK!
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Whoa Nelly! What the heck? Isn’t that everything that a person needs to do for vigor and extreme health? Well the answer is a resounding, “No!”
Don’t despair! I will give you some tips on how to cultivate healthy habits that will only take intention, NOT EXTRA TIME.
Will it be easy? Nope! Cultivating healthy habits is hard. I’ll be honest, at first it takes a lot of energy to focus on the tasks I will give you in this article. After a while these will become easier and in many ways will help you evolve back to your true nature.
Physical training (aka, “working out”) takes an hour daily (approximately), sleep takes 7-9 hours, eating nutritiously took some effort, but with perseverance these things can easily be achieved by most anyone.
The first two of the things mentioned above are time based and simply require setting side the time to do them. The third, eating nutritious food, is planning based and requires that we spend time prepping foods, choosing restaurants, etc.
But, what do you do to cultivate healthy habits the other 23 hours of the day during the normal course of your routine? Outlined below are some of the most important areas of your life where it is important to cultivate healthy habits.
Here are 4 additional areas where you need to cultivate healthy habits
Healthy Habit #1: Sleep
Let’s start with sleep. The time part is accomplished, as mentioned above, so what else can a person do?
There are many natural or ancient sleeping positions. While some were developed out of necessity others were just positions that gave the body better “functional rest” while giving basic protection.
What I term functional rest means proper spinal alignment with full circulation. Proper positions allow for spinal elongation while in a non-compressing pose.
Gravity is not compressing tissues and with the natural decompression that comes from resting in these positions some may even find themselves taller upon awakening. This is due to the spinal discs & surrounding tissues becoming re-hydrated.
Circulation makes most people think about blood flow and no sleep position should restrict blood flow.
Some new studies have shown that the lymphatic systems, which only circulate through movement by the way, actually extend into the brain.
Dr. Eric Cobb from Z-Health Performance states that aside from movement to circulate lymph that certain positions while sleeping allow for toxins to “drain” out of the brain
As you can see I am on my left side as recommended by Dr. Cobb. Switching to the other side supposedly isn’t conducive to lymphatic drainage, but as long as you don’t block off circulation, occasionally that position should be fine.
Note that this is a primal position where my top leg is bent and protecting the groin area.
Healthy Habit #2: Proper Posture
Moving and not moving are both forms of training. You are either training poor positions & poor movement patterns or training beneficial positions & beneficial patterns.
The picture above is a poor standing position, forward head posture, rounded upper back, splayed feet, gravity exerting its force upon tendons/ligaments in an unnatural way come together over time and make it likely that structural issues will cause pain and deterioration.
Notice the difference between good and bad standing posture; the ankles, hips, shoulders and ears are aligned.
When an individual reaches down to pick up something whether it be a few hundred pounds or as light as a pen proper body mechanics should be focused on. Intent should be to hinge, squat or some combination of the two. Humans used to do this instinctively and it can be trained to where it is instinct again.
Healthy Habit #3: Proper Hinging and Squatting
Proper hinging and squatting are essential for preventing injuries and maintaining the long term integrity of the spine.
The first position above is not a very good position! Not awful, but over time the lumbar region will be strained.
A hinge position, as seen in the second photo is much better. As is the squat position on the far right.
In the squat position you are unloaded which allows your pelvis to tuck under a tad and your thoracic to round. This is natural, decompresses the spine, and uses full range of motion in the hips.
A further comment on standing, hinging and squatting.
When performing athletic training the trainee is usually encouraged to keep feet as straight as is possible (unless the drill specifies differently) and to “screw” the hips outward to provide a beneficial tension form torque throughout the leg and knee joint.
This prevents valgus collapse during training. Carrying that thought to non-training times it is usually beneficial to use the same principle when standing, hinging or squatting for daily tasks.
The only difference would/could be in the amount of tension involved. Under loaded conditions very high amounts of tension are often necessary. In daily tasks most of the time only minimal tension is needed.
Healthy Habit #4: Proper Standing and Working
The picture on the left demonstrates unnecessary leaning and allows laziness to rule!
When working at a counter or other object do not lean or brace unless absolutely necessary for the task at hand. The picture on the right illustrates a much better way to stand while working.
Choose to stand or better yet move rather than sit whenever possible. When you do choose to sit, elevate legs, sit cross legged or keep changing positions. Keep your tissues as pliable as possible.
Don’t be controlled by outside factors; use self awareness and discipline to decide how you will feel. Remember we have so much technology that makes things easier and allows us as a race to progress.
This is a truly great thing! Take advantage of the beneficial tech, but don’t forget to use your innate creativity to find ways to compensate physically so that your body maintains vigor through a long life.
For healthy longevity, intention is key!
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