Top athletes don’t just magically wake up with chiseled abs and endless mental willpower; they wake up and choose to work hard, play hard, and get back up when they fail.
Create rituals that serve you in your wellness journey no matter where your at; we’ve gathered 25 healthy habits anyone can swear by to help you get started and keep you motivated.
The Power of Habits
We all have reasons we want to build better habits, from simple things like wanting to drink more water or stop snacking so late at night, to wanting to be more positive or work towards a healthier lifestyle.
We form habits through behavior patterns that slowly become involuntary due to repetition or in-response to contextual cues.
Building better habits takes strategy and dedication, along with a lot of self-love and patience.
Cut yourself some slack if you have picked up some unwanted habits. These automated behaviors are something our brain is trained to do in order to help us multi-task and lessen the workload.
Do You Know Your "why"?
What does the best version of you look like? How does that align with what you value?
When trying to build a healthier lifestyle and habits that last it can be hard to stay motivated if we are fixated on extrinsic motivations like, "losing weight, getting a bikini body" or looking a specific way; anything motivated by an outside reward is considered an extrinsic motivator.
Although these extrinsic motivators can drive us to initiate a change, understanding your deeper, intrinsic motivation and how your desires connect to your values will ultimately inspire you to maintain your health long-term and create sustainable habits (1).
Find what is motivating you to make this change and keep your "why" close by for when you need it.
Then believe in yourself and remind yourself that change does not happen overnight. Ebbs and flows are part of the journey, the lows are there to show you and motivate you towards what you want
Knowing your "why" in any endeavor helps you stick to your guns and make changes based on your own values creating a sustainable lifestyle tailored to you.
Remember to Start Small and be SMART
It doesn't matter when you start or where you start, the only thing that matters is that you're choosing to begin.
The unhealthy habits we create to survive or subconsciously create didn't appear overnight so cut yourself some slack and remember this isn't a race.
Trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming, take things one swap at a time and set yourself up with SMART goals if you're ready to drop to junk and empower yourself to build habits that are sustainable and last.
Even though your big goal may stay the same, it is the small changes that are going to pave the path to success. Small goals also make change seem easier and are also key to learning how to enjoy the process and will help you evaluate whether or not your choices are helping or hurting your progress.
Set small goals first, and remember the goal isn't perfection it's to cultivate sustainable and attainable health for yourself.
Simple goals could be:
- Replacing soda drinks with no-calorie carbonated flavored waters
- Jogging for 2 minutes out of every 5 minutes to work up to running
- Meal Prepping for 1 meal for the week
- Trying meditation or mindful eating guided exercise
Setting goals gives you ways to track your progress and moments to celebrate your accomplishments.
Get SMART with your goals by making them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
25 Health Habits Anyone Can Swear By
1. Track Your Intake
What we eat, how we eat, where we eat, all affect our performance and how we feel, and how well we can build a lifestyle of habits that serves our health and wellness.
The easiest way to start is to keep a food journal for at least 3 days. Take note of your hunger level before your meal, record any beverages as well, and how you feel after you eat.
A food journal allows you to look at what kinds of foods you're eating, what time you typically eat meals, how you feel, and identify areas for goal setting in relation to your diet.
When we eat inconsistently and consume high-sugar, high-fat, and processed foods our blood sugar can do some crazy things, which may cause some of us to feel like we are on an emotional rollercoaster.
Fluctuations in our blood sugar can also cause food cravings and impair our ability to make good choices; ever feel like you're crashing in the middle of the day and reach for some sugar or caffeine? It can be hard to kick an unwanted habit if you are not setting yourself up for success.
There are multiple ways to track your intake, you can try using a fitness app like the Trifecta App, a food journal, or calculate how many calories you need per day.
Try this free calorie calculator to get your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) in a few minutes:
Making a change to your diet is also making a change to your mindset and is ultimately self-care; track your intake and learn to personalize your food plan.
2. Plan Your Meals
There are a ton of diets out there, paleo, keto, vegan, whole-foods, flexitarian; whatever you choose remember it's not about what you call your diet it's about how you feel and what your health and wellness goals are.
Plan your nourishment around your health and wellness goals by starting a meal prep routine at home. This can be as simple as revamping your grocery list to include healthier snack options or cooking and portioning out a healthy recipe for lunch for the week.
Planning your meals ahead of time can help you:
- Save time and money on meal prep
- Eat More Consistently throughout your day
- Track your food intake or macros
- Eat a more balanced diet
- Prevent food cravings or skipping meals
- Gather a deeper understanding of nutrition
- Easier planning for fat loss or muscle gain goals
- Pack your diet with more whole vegetables
Plan your nourishment around your health and wellness goals by starting a meal prep routine.
3. Set Up Your Kitchen For Success
We can have high aspirations for our diet but if we keep our homes stocked with foods that are harming health not helping us we undermine our own ability to create better habits.
Unwanted snacking or unplanned meals can easily sabotage our health goals.
Your environment affects your ability to build better habits as we are constantly cued by smells, things we see and hear. When you spend time creating a space that builds you up, not only will you feel better but you'll be able to self-regulate more efficiently.
Tips for organizing a kitchen for healthy habits:
- Make a grocery list and plan ahead
- Clean out your pantry, freezer, and fridge before going to the store
- If you don't live alone, create a special space for all the foods that fit into your plan and start to minimize foods that aren't good for the whole family
- Purchase meal prep containers
Stocking your kitchen with healthy snacks and beverages follows the same mentality of planning your meals ahead of time.
4. Use Portion Control
Estimating your food intake will get you closer to your goals, but it really takes understanding portion sizes to get it right. Studies suggest that most people underestimate their calorie intake by nearly 20% (2,3,4).
If you’re eating out and enjoying foods without a nutrition facts label, it can be a challenge to guesstimate how much food and macros you are consuming. And even if there is a nutrition facts label, eyeballing your portion size will only get you so far.
Instead of guessing, consider using measuring cups or take it one step further and learn how to weigh your food.
Understanding portion control can deepen your nutrition knowledge and ensure you are hitting your calorie goals more closely.
5. Eat More Whole Foods
If you're tracking your food intake and starting to plan your meals, you've got the "how" down to executing a meal plan but the "what" is just as important.
Meaning that the quality of your food impacts your health just as much as when you are eating and how much you are eating.
The health benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables come from those rich in nutrient-dense plant foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes and lower in less healthy plant foods such as refined grains and sugar-sweetened beverages associated (5).
Whole, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and quality proteins help make up the bulk of a well-balanced diet.
6. Eat Breakfast
Eating a nutrient-dense meal early in the day has a variety of benefits. For one, breakfast allows your body to replenish its blood glucose levels, which is your body’s main source of energy.
It also changes how your body functions for the rest of the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending a message to your body that you will have plenty of calories coming in throughout the day, whereas if you skip breakfast you are sending a message to your body to conserve energy.
With all this being said, breakfast is clearly an important meal, but it is not simply “eating breakfast” that will make all the difference, the quality of food and breakdown of macronutrients is extremely important.
Breakfasts that are high in protein and dense in nutrients are the way to go. Not only does a high protein, nutrient-dense breakfast allows you to stay fuller, longer- it's also a great way to ensure you hit your daily intake of protein.
If it fits into your lifestyle, eating breakfast can be a balanced part of taking care of your body and health.
7. Move Every Day
The more time you spend sitting down each day, the less amount of energy your body will burn and the higher your chances are of compromising your metabolic health and developing unwanted habits like snacking in front of the TV (6).
Large studies from around the world have associated sedentary behavior with a variety of poor health outcomes, including increased mortality (7,8). And prolonged sitting has also been associated with an increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer (9,10).
If you physically aren't able to work out, no worries! Low impact activities like walking or light housework can still benefit your health. Movement can be anything from walking, yoga, pilates, plyometrics to developing and maintaining an exercise routine.
If you don't already frequent the gym, local fitness studio, or have a fitness routine you enjoy, start by focusing on just getting moving by aim for 30 minutes of any kind of movement a day to start, this could be as simple as a walk around the block.
Getting involved in any movement activity may connect you with a like-minded community as well!
Get out there and move; a sense of accomplishment can be a great motivator for change, you don't have to start big just aim for consistency.
8. Prioritize Self-Care
Practicing self-care isn't always a priority as we get busy with work, social life, and more, make time to check in with yourself and show yourself some love.
If we aren't taking care of ourselves then how can we expect to make good choices or enjoy the present moment? The WHO outlines self-care as the "ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of health care providers" (11).
Self-Care interventions in health care have been recognized as an essential part of multidimensional health plans and pivotal in the management of chronic diseases, including mental health (12).
Self-care comes in many forms, having a sleep routine, meditation, going to the gym, even brushing your teeth is a form of dental hygiene which can be considered self-care.
When we practice more self-care we learn to advocate for our own health, increase our awareness and accountability, set better boundaries, and cultivate a mindset based on our values and beliefs.
9. Practice Better Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is crucial to restoring your system and gives your body and mind a break; not only is the amount of sleep you get important but the quality of sleep matters as well.
Not getting enough sleep or getting poor sleep can increase the amount of perceived stress your body is under, which increases inflammation and may influence the development of a variety of disorders including hypertension, obesity, type-2 diabetes, impaired immune functioning, mood disorders, and neurological disorders (13, 14).
Sleep deprivation also increases hunger and food intake, especially our desire for simple carbohydrates like junk food and salty snacks; this may be due to alterations in our reward and pleasure response to food (15).
The National Sleep Foundation recommends the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.
Practice good sleep hygiene and make your bed a sacred space for rejuvenation and quality rest.
10. Drink Water Over Anything Else
Our bodies are literally made of water, making up anywhere between 55%-75% depending on your age and lifestyle (16).
Being even mildly dehydrated can negatively impact brain function, mood, heart health, and energy levels (17). And while you can get water from food and other beverages, there is no better source than water itself.
Beyond water being essential for our functioning and health any other beverages we drink throughout the day (coffee, soft drinks, flavored beverages) may contain excess energy, sugars, and other ingredients harmful to our health goals.
The average person should consume a minimum of half their body weight in ounces. So a 150-pound person ideally would drink 75 ounces of water minimum a day.
Easy tips to increase your water intake per day:
- Buy a water bottle you love and know how many times you should fill it per day to meet your minimum needs
- Make a habit of drink an 8-oz glass of water right when you wake and right before bed
- Use a straw
- Invest in a water filter or filtered pitcher
- Set reminders on your phone
- Infuse your water with herbs, citrus, or other flavors
Aim to drink about half your body weight in ounces of water minimum per day.
11. Understand Your Hunger Cues
Intuitive eating is a mindset that includes mindful eating, allowing you to find more balance and feel less stress around your relationship with food by connecting back to your body’s natural cues.
Understanding the 'why' and 'how' behind your hunger cues can allow you to connect back to your natural intuition and find freedom in food while prioritizing your health and wellness.
Mindless eating can include eating when you are full, snacking until you get bloated, or eating things just because they are in your line of sight. Strict dieting or food restriction can also warp our mindset in the same way as compulsive or mindless eating.
This kind of unconscious eating may contribute to the development of eating disorders, obesity, and obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (18,19).
Build a healthy relationship with food by including these practices as a part of a comprehensive wellness program that includes other lifestyle modifications such as mind-body therapies and exercise; body, mind, and spirit should all be addressed.
12. Find Workouts You Enjoy
If you are struggling to stay motivated for your workouts it may be time to switch things up a bit. Just as our bodies require working different muscle groups to stay in peak shape, our minds also need some change in stimulation to keep us motivated.
Frame your fitness and exercise as a celebration of what your body can do not a punishment for decisions made.
Remember to connect back to your 'why' and be clear on your goals.
There are goals for every occasion, and people rarely have the same one. Not to mention your goals change over time. You may have started out wanting to lose fat or build strength, but maybe now you just require regular workouts to feel good and reduce stress.
If you don't have to drive out of your way to get some exercise, try a home workout regime or find a fitness center on your way home from the office. Figure out how to fit your fitness plan into your daily life with ease, and sticking to it will become a whole lot easier.
Try out a variety of workouts from strength training, boxing, HIIT training, cycling, pilates, and more!
Want more motivation? Download this free 12-week workout plan for fat loss. Complete with everything you need to burn fat, lose fat, and get toned in 90 days - includes weight training and endurance.
13. Surround Yourself With Support
It's easier to stick to healthy habits and build new life-changing rituals like exercise or eating right when you're around other people trying to better their health as well.
Surrounding yourself with a community that is motivating, supportive, and positive will help you sustain motivation when things get tough and also inspire you to keep setting goals aligned with your vision of health and wellness.
You can also get more support and advice by turning to others who are working on similar goals or who have already been on their own health journey for some time now.
Get connected with like-minded individuals on Facebook groups or through other community channels.
14. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude can be defined as the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to you, it’s a broad sense of thankfulness for experiences, people, nature, or whatever brings you joy (20).
There is no denying that experiencing gratitude and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which in turn contributes to our overall happiness, decreased depression, and increased satisfaction with ourselves and life (21).
Going back to thought awareness, some studies have shown that when you focus on more positive emotional words and begin using less negative ones, you’re more likely to feel better (22).
An easy way to practice gratitude is to make a gratitude list. You can also channel more positive thinking by turning to something that makes you happy. This could be a person, a funny video, a favorite song, or an image.
When times get tough, consider keeping this positive keepsake close by to remind yourself to think happier thoughts.
Gratitude is a powerful tool to help us cultivate healthy lifestyles and make positive choices.
15. Follow Social Media That Inspires You
Social media can be a great tool for motivation, but sometimes it can also end up making you feel pretty down on yourself if you're not consciously choosing who or what you follow.
It’s easy to get sucked into fitness posts and then get bombarded with images of the “ideal body type” or people’s “online persona” on a regular basis.
Some of us tend to compare ourselves to others, but you start thinking to yourself - “how can I be like that?”- remember that most of the images portrayed in media aren't real life, they are fabricated and staged to fit the persona or ‘social media' marketing.
Also, we often don’t know their personal struggles, their history, and everything else beneath the surface, and anyways, who cares; this is your story to tell, your life to live, not theirs.
Follow social media that aligns with your health and wellness goals for inspiration and positive mindset.
16. Create a Morning and/or Bedtime Routine
It's easy to make changes for a couple of days in a row, the hard work lies in making these changes stick for the long haul. This is also how you get results, by being consistent - repeating the same behaviors for an extended period of time.
Creating routines for the morning or bedtime can help us become more consistent in our habits and creates opportunities to stack health habits on top of each other.
The first few seconds you have in the morning upon waking up can make or break the tone of your day. If you wake up and immediately start to think about all the negative or things you have to do, you'll probably feel less motivated to get out of bed; strive to wake up and think about what you appreciate going into your day.
Even a simple thought of "Everything is always working out for me" or "today I will feel happy" can shift you into a new perspective.
The same is true when getting ready for bed. Screen time, busy days, and outside distractions may make it hard to unwind and truly get ready for some quality sleep.
Carve out time before bed for self-care and use tools like meditation, deep breathing, reading or whatever works for you to relax.
Building a positive and restorative morning and bedtime routine can help you stick to a growth mindset and healthy lifestyle.
17. Be Mindful
Becoming aware of the thoughts and feelings we have is half the battle of shifting to a more beneficial mindset.
Consciousness or awareness is a powerful tool, simply put it's the act of being conscious of something or an action. When we practice being more mindful and aware we are able to assess our wellness in all areas of our life and work through stressful situations in healthier ways.
Research suggests that mindfulness increases our psychological well-being by reducing unwanted symptoms and emotional reactivity through improved regulation of behavior (23).
Our body is an ecosystem of interconnected and multi-directional processes, mindfulness practices may also positively impact our psychological well-being as the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction programs on the body are still undergoing evaluation (24).
Mindfulness helps us break free from reactive habit patterns and liberate us from unwanted actions.
18. Stretch Often
Stretching should be a common practice for everyone but it's often overlooked or missed even by people who train hard daily.
Regular stretching does more than protect our mobility, it can also reduce stress, body aches, improve our posture, promote circulation, and decrease the risk of low-back pain.
Aim to stretch 5-10 minutes daily for least three to four days a week to reap the rewards of stretching because stretching once doesn't make much of a difference, it's continually stretching overtime where we see the most benefits.
There are many varieties of stretching. Practicing regular meditation or yoga is thought to help us snap out of impulsive thoughts in our day-to-day and stay focused on the task at hand.
Regular stretching helps protect our mobility, keeping our muscles strong and healthy by maintaining a range of motion in our joints and maintaining proper balance (25).
19. Quit Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol and smoking can have big impacts on our health, which is why most health care providers would agree that reducing your consumption of alcohol and cessation of smoking is always a healthier choice.
Overconsumption and abuse of alcohol play a role in the development of a variety of medical problems including cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis, and contributes to injuries, automobile collisions, and more (26, 27).
According to the CDC, cigarette smoking causes diminished overall health, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, lung disease, cancer, and harms nearly every organ of the body (28).
No matter what your health goals are, reducing or removing alcohol and smoking from your lifestyle can benefit your health (29).
20. Practice Forgiveness and Non-Judgement
We want things because we know what we don't want, but when we get caught up in fact we don't have it right this instance or haven't gotten a hang of a new habit as much as we wanted to, our inner critic may act up.
Give yourself a break, and show yourself some compassion. Life can be challenging, and the least we can do is give ourselves a big ole hug and remember to take things one step at a time.
What's that saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day" and "everybody starts somewhere"; this is a process and all that matters right now is your commitment to yourself and how you feel.
When negative thoughts or feelings come up in our journey practice forgiveness and non-judgment; health and wellness is a continual process, not a destination.
21. Spend Time in Nature
Did you know in Japan they practice "forest bathing". Shinrin-Yoku (SY), or forest bathing, is the practice of immersing oneself in nature by mindfully using all five senses (30).
There is growing evidence to suggest that spending time outdoors and in natural environments may benefit our immune system function, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and induce mental relaxation (31, 32, 33).
Whether it's a 20-minute walk in the morning or a quick walk on your lunch break, getting outside in fresh air will help your mindset and mood.
22. Celebrate Your Wins and Your Losses
Knowing how to celebrate our wins and learn from our losses is crucial to reevaluating our goals and pivoting when getting discouraged or needing to make a change.
Celebrating your wins, even the small stuff, can help you learn to appreciate where you are now in your journey and remind you that this is a process.
The same can be said with celebrating your losses, that's right, I said celebrate your losses and failures. Without our failures or losses, we probably would never be motivated to do anything; we often figure out what we want by knowing what we don't want.
If you find your inner critic acting up when you fall short or are feeling defeated this is a beautiful moment for some inner-work:
- practice some self-love and non-judgment by acknowledging how you're feeling without letting your critic take over
- let go of any of the negative feelings, they aren't helping you
- now replace that with statements about what you want to achieve
- what's the first step you get to take to get there
Learn to get comfortable with your feelings of failure and you can overcome almost anything; these moments are here to show us our strengths and help build sustainable and healthy goals.
23. Have Fun
Self-care also includes time to do things you enjoy and have fun with, or learning something new!
There is the saying, "you can't pour from an empty cup"; if you are constantly moving through life with the mindset of I "have-to" or "should" then it might be time for you to add in some activities just for the joy of having fun.
Adults need recess too. When we take time to schedule activities for the sake of pleasure and simple enjoyment we are consciously choosing things that feed our soul and rejuvenate us.
Everyone has their own version of fun; fun could be hanging out with your partner, friends, co-workers, pet, or kids. Fun may be dressing up for holidays, hiking outdoors, playing a board game, learning something new, or gardening.
Whatever fun is for you, give yourself permission to have fun and enjoy yourself, there doesn't need to be any bigger point to the activity beyond that.
Scheduling time for fun activities can connect us with like-minded communities, relieve stress, stimulate our mind and creativity and more!
24. Phase-out the Sodas, Sugary Drinks, and Processed Food
This processed American diet has come to be called the S.A.D. diet or standard American diet, full of ultra-processed junk foods and high-sugar drinks saturated fat and trans fat.
It's no surprise that consuming a S.A.D. diet and these types of foods are associated with weight gain and obesity and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (34).
Occasionally eating junk food is a normal part of life; remember that your health and wellness is a cumulation of all the choices you make and the food you eat.
Reducing and slowly eliminating your consumption of these high sugar and high-calorie foods will ultimately save you tons of calories and better your health.
Start with small swaps, trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming, and most of us have gotten used to the flavor and addictive qualities of junk food. These foods can be addictive as drugs and alcohol, and they are purposely made that way (35).
Reducing the amounts of junk foods you eat is a simple way to help improve your overall health and wellness.
25. Start a Meditation Routine
Meditation can be a powerful tool in cultivating awareness and connecting us back to our intrinsic motivations and passions.
Many people use meditation to manage stress and promote general health; it's a simple, easy way to practice self-care and also connect to your deeper self.
Research suggests that meditation as a part of any comprehensive lifestyle program may help increase mindfulness and be an effective tool in the treatment of disordered eating and the management of anxiety and depression (36, 37)
Other physiological and mental health benefits associated with meditation such as reduced blood pressure, decreasing sympathetic overstimulation, and managing symptoms of inflammation-based chronic disease are still being investigated.
The term "meditation" doesn't mean you have to sit in a lotus pose for 30 minutes and contemplate the meaning of life. Meditation can be a wide range of techniques including, guided meditation, meditative movement such as yoga or tai chi, breathing exercises, listening to music, creating mantras, even cooking a home-cooked meal could be considered meditation.
Meditation is all about tuning into your senses and self, how could you begin to incorporate a weekly meditation practice in your life?
Looking for Habit Building Resources?
If you're looking for some growth-oriented books to help you create healthier habits, here are a few recommendations:
- The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
- Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Joe Dispenza
Build a new healthy habit today and get support in the palm of your hand with the free Trifecta app. You'll get personalized nutrition goals and daily tracking to help keep you honest and consistent.