By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Do you have a friend that has always been healthy? That fit, looks great in everything, friend? The one that seems to be able to eat anything she wants and not gain a pound? Meanwhile, you are checking out this diet or that exercise plan or struggling to eat kale salad? You know what I am talking about, right? (My apologies to kale; I actually find you quite delicious.)
I am in the trenches with you! Now that I am entering my forties, which comes with the realization that those “grown-up” diseases like heart disease are a legit concern, I wanted to get to the bottom of this once and for all. What are the always healthy people doing? What are their secrets?
Being the science nerd I am, I went into research mode. Here are the 10 “secrets” of the always healthy people revealed!
Secret #10: Choose to hydrate with water
No shocker here; always healthy people not only stay hydrated but they also choose water over other beverages. You won’t see always healthy people drinking soda, diet or high-octane regular, highly caffeinated energy drinks, or sugary coffee drinks. How much water is your goal? Take your body weight and divide by 2; that is how much water you should be drinking every 24 hours. No joke; half your body weight in water. (I just found some added motivation to lose the extra pounds...lol.)
Secret #9: Get 8 hours of sleep most nights
It is a short Google search to uncover the vast benefits of sleep...reduce stress, improve memory and concentration, increase metabolism, better mood...the list goes on and on. Not only do the always healthy people get their 8 hours of ZZZs, they also have a consistent sleep-wake cycle, meaning they go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. This is the sleep #gamechanger! Your body develops rhythms for releasing hormones, regenerating and repairing your cells, and other functions based on your sleep. If you have a sporadic sleep cycle, you are not allowing your body to develop these cycles so you are not functioning at your best.
Secret #8: Know how to manage stress
Stress management is one of the pillars of health. Not kidding; there are 4 core focus areas that are taught to health providers to teach their patients when looking to improve health and stress management is one of them. Like most things on this list, it is not that the always healthy people do not have stress in their life or feel stressed at times; rather, the always healthy people have figured out strategies that work for them to deal with stress and keep it under control so it does not negatively affect their lives. Manage stress means managing the damage stress causes to the body.
Secret #7: Don’t diet
Hmmmm? Say what? Don’t diet and healthy go together? Ehhh...wrong. Here is an important revelation. Diets don’t work; consistent self-serving habits do. The always healthy people have learned to remove the emotions from eating, especially guilt. They enjoy food as what it is intended-fuel for your body. Literally, what you put in your body is what you get out either as the energy you have or literally in the form of your body’s cells and tissues. So, it is no wonder that the always healthy people have a tendency to look AND feel better, right? This is not a coincidence! Everyone reacts differently to different foods as well. Exploring what foods give you energy versus those that make you feel poorly, either literally ill or affect your energy, is important combined with getting to the bottom of emotional eating. Once you break through these obstacles, you can freely eat. Without guilt, without shame, without counting macros or calories. You fuel yourself based on what you need in that moment or to accomplish what you have coming up.
Secret #6: Enjoy exercising
There is a big difference between enjoying exercising and exercising. Exercise is another one of those four core focus areas for health improvement. You might not like to hear this but exercise really isn’t an option if you are looking to be an always healthy person. There are two revelations that are important here. First, exercise is not a weight loss strategy; it is very hard to out-exercise poor eating habits. Rather, the point of exercise is to strengthen your body, particularly your bones and cardiovascular system. The second revelation is that always healthy people find exercises that they enjoy. When you enjoy doing the exercise, it doesn’t feel like exercise. Here’s an example from me. I don’t like running; I wish I did as it is so versatile and you can do it anywhere but I really don’t like it. I do, however, love playing soccer. Guess what happens a lot in soccer? Running! I probably run more in a soccer game than I ever have otherwise, but I don’t even notice it because I’m playing a sport. That’s enjoying exercise! Here’s a bonus when it comes to enjoying exercise, this allows the exercise to be I get to instead of I have to; this shift to a growth mindset allows exercise to serve as a de-stresser or part of your self-care, or both!
Secret #5: Prepare healthy food ahead of time
Here’s the truth that no one likes to admit; eating healthy is harder than eating junk food. The reason junk food has become popular is because it is easy and convenient. To combat this, you need to think and plan ahead. Having healthy meals and snacks prepped, available, and ready to go make it more likely you will follow through on this commitment. A good goal to strive for is the 80/20 rule; 80% of the time you consume whole, unprocessed foods and 20% of the time you go for convenience. Take this strategy with you to the grocery store; 80% of your food items should be fresh and 20% boxed or processed. A quick aside, be careful with frozen! For instance, frozen fruits, vegetables, and unbreaded protein are typically healthier options but frozen pizza, meals, or breaded proteins are junk food items.
Secret #4: Eat unhealthy
You read that correctly. The always healthy people eat unhealthy. Here’s the “secret”; the unhealthy eating is not their normal. This falls in the 80/20 rule; 80% of the time always healthy people eat nutritious, whole foods and 20% of the time they splurge. This is also that elusive term, moderation, at play. And, just like secret #5, this 20% of splurging is often part of their plan for the week. Planning for going out to eat or a dinner party or a friend’s birthday is how you have the unhealthy stay in the exception and the healthy stay in the rule. This also adds to the no guilt or shame in eating as well as releasing the feeling that you are restricting yourself or dieting. You can eat whatever you want, just not whenever you want.
Secret #3: Make time for self-care
The always healthy people have the understanding and belief that self-care is not selfish. Rather, self-care is necessary to be able to give your best to others and live your best life. Taking care of yourself includes your mind, body, and self. It’s as simple as that!
Secret #2: Have an optimistic and growth mindset
Every always healthy person I know is positive and sees possibility instead of being negative and close-minded. Being truly healthy means your mind is healthy, and your mindset is a crucial piece in this department. This does not mean that the always healthy person does not experience negative feelings or emotions; rather, that the always healthy person reframes to see the lesson or positive potential in a negative situation. This takes work, and the easiest place to start is adding “yet”. For example, instead of “I can’t do this”, you would say “I can’t do this yet”. Doesn’t that feel different?
Secret #1: Have purpose
There’s a reason this is last; this is the big kahuna! The always healthy person is living a life of inspiration and purpose. Always healthy people are at peace with themselves. They accept themselves and others as well as understand and appreciate that everyone has unique gifts and talents to bring to the world.
Did you notice something interesting about these “secrets”? There is nothing that secret about any of them! Surprising, perhaps, but not secret. There is no secret ingredient, no secret sauce, no special trick or fad diet. These are a string of simple, self-serving behaviors-turned-habit that compound on each other in a positive way resulting in the “always healthy person”.
The real secret is that you must read each point and reflect on if that plays into your life. Here’s the truthbomb, friends. If you aren’t healthy, it means several of these secrets aren’t playing out in your life. These secrets are actually the 10 Revelations of the Always Healthy People! Ask yourself, honestly, where am I getting stuck? Which of these am I not doing? Once you realize where you are getting stuck in these 10 revelations, and work to correct them by replacing poor habits with good habits, you will also be one of those always healthy people. Do you remember what’s great about habits? Habits are just what you do, what you are. You don’t think about them.
Always healthy people are just people who have worked at developing healthy habits. Always healthy people do not think about being healthy; they just are healthy. Just think how empowering it would be to just be healthy and not need to waste brain power on it! Now, that’s a goal I can get behind!
Let’s do this together! Who’s with me?
P.S. This Jumpstart Your Health in 30 Minutes or Less is a great place to start. Stay tuned for more guidance in these secret areas!
As always, Shine on!!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.