Brushing your teeth, calling a certain friend or family member, watching your favorite TV show at night — everyone has daily habits they do without prompting.
And when these behaviors become engrained in our routine, they can be tough to change. In fact, 53 percent of people say changing habits is the biggest obstacle to living a healthy lifestyle, according to a recent survey conducted by Healthline Media. But adopting a few simple practices can make a big difference.
“On an airplane, they tell you to always put your oxygen mask on before assisting others,” says Nick Errato, new club openings national leader for Life Time Kids and aquatics, who’s also a husband and dad. “That always seemed bonkers to me, but now I understand that we need to take care of ourselves if we plan to take care of others. I can’t ensure my kids are safe and their oxygen masks are secured if mine isn’t. I think the same is true for daily healthy living. Plus, I am leading by example that it’s important to take care of yourself.”
If you’re feeling stuck in a rut or need inspiration to ignite a new routine, these seven healthy-living experts offer the habitual things they do daily to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional health.
Barbara Powell, MA, NBC-HWC
Holistic performance coach for Life Time Mind
I like to do three pages of free-flow writing each morning, inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I wake up, get some water and coffee, light a candle, and start. This allows me to mindfully center my thoughts before the spin of the day begins. It propels me toward purposeful action because I uncover important inner truths, hopes, and other insights that I cannot ignore. When we journal consistently, we can’t help but find our voice and pinpoint our next steps.
Our sympathetic nervous system — the fight-or-flight system — tends to react to all kinds of things throughout the day. For me, it could be phone calls, back-to-back coaching sessions, the anticipation of a day’s events, or body-image triggers, among other things. In response to these “perceived threats,” I can signal my nervous system to relax.
I personally do this with a quick body scan to release muscles that tense up (yes, I even do this mid-meeting, it only takes a few seconds). Other ways to do this include taking a few elongated breaths, gazing at the horizon, and taking tech-free time outside. This helps me make clearer decisions and have more energy at the end of day.
Three Good Things and a Bump in the Road
My partner and I often have different types of days and it takes intentional effort to connect before bedtime. We like to share three good things — a compliment received, accomplishment or progress in an area of our lives, or something we feel grateful for — and any bumps in the road: struggling with learning something new, a friend or family challenge, or discomfort in the body. This ends the day with connection, celebration, and an opportunity to support each other.
Kids and aquatics new club openings national leader for Life Time
10 Minutes of Silence
Some people might refer to it as prayer or meditation, but I need 10 minutes of silence at the beginning of each day to mentally prepare myself for what awaits. No screens, no music. Just intentional, focused time alone.
Joy is something that keeps me motivated, so I always find a way to create it each day. It could be through a funny meme in a text chain, a hug from my kids, shared laughter, or a motivational song or message.
30 Minutes of Movement
Whether it’s working out, playing pick-up soccer, or even just going for a walk in the neighborhood, I need to get my heart rate up and my body moving. This helps me relieve stress and puts me in a better mood. If for some reason I don’t get 30 minutes of movement, I can feel the effects mentally and emotionally at the end of the day.
Lindsay Ogden, CPT
Personal training leader at Life Time in Eden Prairie, Minn.
Whether it’s strength training, a conditioning day, or simply walking my dogs, I begin every day (even the weekends) with movement. I treat this as my “me-time” to get my mind and body prepared for the day.
If you’d like to do this but aren’t sure where to start, my advice is to just get there. Getting to the gym or putting your shoes on for outdoor activities is the hardest part. Once you’re there or do that, the rest will take care of itself.
20 Minutes Outdoors
Outdoor time is not only good for fresh air and vitamin D exposure, but it’s also a reminder that the world is so much more than what’s in front of our faces on the screens and devices we spend so much time using. It truly changes my perspective. My goal is to spend at least 20 minutes outdoors every day — and that’s in all seasons. And if there is a day when that doesn’t work, even just taking a few deep breaths outside is better than nothing!
Life can feel like you’re always moving from one thing to the next. That’s why I’ve learned to embrace and make the most of my daily “transitions.” Driving to my morning workout, going from my workout to work, or leaving work and heading home — I take these times to be mindful and think about what I need for the next part of my day. This doesn’t have to be a detailed routine. It’s as simple as turning off the radio and driving in silence to allow space for your thoughts.
Zack Wilkinson, MS, CPT, CES, PES, NC
Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in San Antonio, Texas
Protein at Each Meal
As part of my daily meal plan, I make sure to have a source of quality protein at each meal. I’ve been doing this for almost a year, and it helps me feel fantastic.
Family time is important to me, and I prioritize spending time with my daughter every day. I want to spend as much time as I can with her because she’s growing up so fast and I want her to know I am always here for her.
A Little Positivity
Having a positive mentality is important because there are already enough negative things in this world. Everyone has their own struggles that others often know nothing about. A little positivity can brighten people’s days.
I coach between 70 and 105 people each day. That’s a lot of interactions — and sometimes just a positive voice or laugh makes a big difference for someone.
Senior vice president and cofounder of ARORA and leader of sustainability initiatives at Life Time
Eight-Plus Hours of Sleep
I aim to get eight or more hours of sleep every night. I’ve noticed that if I don’t, it can throw off my other healthy habits.
Follow Eating Windows
I typically stop eating after dinner — usually by 6 p.m. — and don’t eat again until after 9 a.m. the next day, aiming for nutrient-dense, filling meals. This helps me avoid snacking at night and gives my digestive system a break.
I find some way to move my body every day. It could be a formal exercise class, like Pilates or one of the ARORA classes, or simply a walk in the woods with my dogs. Getting this variety of regular exercise helps me build strength, feel less stressed, and have more energy than I’ve had in years.
(Main notes that she was able to lose 40 pounds and stick to a healthy routine this past year by incorporating these healthy-living non-negotiables each day.)
Mike Thomson, CPT
Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Overland Park, Kan.
I wake up around 4:30 a.m. each day to take early clients. So, before I go to bed, I set out my clothes, prep my food, and get my blender ready on the counter for my morning shake. I “win the morning” by winning the night.
The Workout Plan
This is more of a weekly habit, but I always know what my workouts are going to be daily because I plan them at the beginning of each week. I schedule them on my calendar in advance to make sure nothing gets in the way. If I don’t set specific time aside for my workouts, my days will get filled with client sessions, calls, or other activities or distractions.
Bryce Morris, MS, CPT
Dynamic Personal Trainer at Life Time in Frisco, Texas
I try to consume no more than 20 grams of added sugar each day, and I watch out for sweets and fake sugars. It’s all about moderation.
The “Why” Connection
I always try to remember why I started my fitness journey and think about my purpose each day. This helps me get up in the morning when I’m feeling sore, tired, or down.