5 Healthy Things You Should Do That Have Nothing To Do With Food or Fitness
You can eat well & exercise all you want, but if you don’t have a healthy lifestyle, does that really matter?
The world is rampant with health advice.
You can’t even check out at the grocery store without seeing at least 5 magazine covers about the latest “diets,” “superfoods,” workout trends or anti-aging juices and gels.
Health advice — good & not-so-good — is everywhere, and while the bombardment comes from a place of (mostly) good intentions, much of it fails to address the part of health that happens outside of the gym & kitchen.
Here are 5 healthy things I do that have nothing to do with food or fitness.
1. (almost) daily guided meditations
This is actually a “two birds, one stone” tactic. In addition to helping you successfully create small quiet moments in your day, you can also use guided meditations to help you fall asleep & get better quality sleep.
I’m a huge fan of the app “Insight Timer” that has hundreds of meditations categorized by activity, duration, subject, popularity and also offers “soundscapes” if you prefer no guidance, only sound.
Whether you spend 2 minutes on your lunch break with some guided breath work or dedicate a whole 30 minutes to a pre-sleep body scan with affirmations, practicing meditation in any form works wonders for your mind and can improve your overall health as a result.
2. social media/phone boundaries
The other morning I was brushing my teeth when the facial recognition feature on my phone failed to recognize me. It was as if it was subtly asking me, “Do you really need to be on your phone while you brush your teeth?”
Honestly, I’m often using my phone at odd times like this: as I’m falling asleep, while I’m pouring my morning coffee, as I wake up and spend an hour of time with my partner before we start our days.
This constant, often sub-conscious, checking of our phones is damaging the quality of our sleep, the quality of our thoughts, our ability to be present and the way we start and end our days.
I recently implemented social media “bookends” for myself at the beginning and end of every day.
Maybe you’re not a habitual Instagram or Snapchat checker like myself. Maybe it’s email or the weather app, Reddit or Tumblr, some sports network or news outlet.
Whatever it is for you that makes you reach for your phone without even really thinking about it, I highly encourage you to try out the “bookend” strategy to protect your morning and evening time more intentionally.
For me, this practice looks like 30 minutes to an hour of social media-less time before bed & after waking up.
I allow myself to still use my phone to look things up, read articles or even write (I am often flooded with creative ideas at night & in the morning) but in order to keep those evening and morning moments more present and intentional, I do my very best not to start or end my day on social media.
It has helped my sleep tremendously and freed up so much mental anxiety that can accompany my phone habits.
3. engaging with podcasts/audio books & YouTube videos
Even if you don’t work mostly independently like I do, it’s likely you still have at least an hour or more of solo time in your day: commuting, showering, washing dishes, getting dressed… even if it’s not all at once, it adds up!
I like to add up all that time and spend it on a podcast, audiobook or YouTube video, where I can learn from others and get perspective and insight into lives besides my own.
Sometimes, the content I’m consuming is straight up educational: a science-y podcast about health trends or the news.
Other times, it’s primarily entertaining but still thought-provoking: Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Ellen Denegeres or one of the Youtubers I admire.
I’m not saying you have to listen to Nat Geo or History Channel broadcasts, but the practice of listening to something on purpose rather than just putting on the radio or sitting in silence is tremendously beneficial to keeping your mind working and your heart relating.
You’d be surprised how a regular podcast tune-in can change your whole day’s flow.
4. daily tidying
**My younger self is so annoyed that this made the list because I used to hate it when my mom insisted we pick up our shoes, book bags and other belongings strewn about the house each night before bed, but damnit if she didn’t know what she was doing.**
Without even a second thought, I do a light clean-up every night before bed.
Nothing serious. No sweeping or sponges.
Just a “return-to-order” general once-around:
- shoes by the door go back into the closet;
- (most) dishes get washed;
- dinner table is cleared;
- workspace is ready for the next day;
- coffee table is cleared;
- and clothes on the floor are either put away or put into the hamper.
It takes 10 minutes tops and completely changes the way I wake up.
Instead of waking up and immediately seeing/feeling things that need to get done, I wake up to a clear space inviting me to make my coffee and take a seat.
It’s also a super simple practice to keep your week flowing smoothly and not letting things pile up until the weekend.
If you’ve got kids, be like my mom and get them in the habit of picking up their things before bed.
5. notifications out of sight, out of mind
In addition to deleting email from my phone entirely (10/10 recommend) I also took the initiative of moving all “notification” apps (besides texts) to the back page of my phone, and it has been so liberating.
I equate it to moving “junk food” out of eyesight in the pantry.
If I don’t actually see the little red notification badges (or even the apps that don’t have the badges but that I still perpetually check) I’m 10x less likely to open them and therefore 10x more likely not to waste a silly amount of time scrolling.
The front home screen of my phone is now reserved for more functional, intentional apps like texts, the weather app, exercise apps, Audible, Pandora, etc.
Not seeing any notifications (or being tempted to open an app and check for notifications) when I open my phone has been a huge game-changer for my productivity, my screen time and my mental health in general.
In the half second it takes to swipe to the back page to get to my social media, I think twice about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and where this choice is coming from.
Again, it’s like putting your treat-food in a hard-to-reach place so you actually have to do some work to get to it when you want it.
Even if you don’t think you’re on your phone that much, try moving your apps around and creating a trigger of awareness for yourself and see what happens.
Of course, as a women’s personal trainer + life coach, and someone who likes living actively in general, I do lots of “healthy” things that have a lot to do with food and the gym.
But I believe health is so much bigger than that, and I try my best to be healthy in all areas, not just the physical ones.