Habits Aren’t Inherently Good Or Bad

Habits are behaviors that are done every day that require little thinking or concentration. Habits include all sorts of activities. They can range from getting dressed or sleeping habits to what we eat and to smoking or substance addiction. Most people would classify their habits into two categories, good and bad. But, our habits aren’t necessarily inherently good or bad. What actually categorizes good and bad habits have more to do with how these behaviors affect our lives and our goals we’ve set for ourselves. Most behaviors can be considered good or bad, depending on two factors. These factors are the frequency of the behavior and how the behavior affects us.

The frequency of the behavior refers to how often that habit is carried out. So, take exercise, for example. Being in the habit of exercising daily is considered a good habit because of its many health benefits, like sleeping better, increased positive mood, and maintaining a healthy weight. But, even exercise can become a bad habit if the frequency of the task is overdone. In some cases people exercise too much, several times a day, putting a strain on the bodies or becoming overly focused on how their body looks.

The other factor in classifying what is considered a good or bad habit is how the habit affects us and the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Good habits enrich our lives and further us to our goals. Smoking cigarettes is considered a bad habit because smoking doesn’t enrich life; rather it negatively affects our health. The way we spend the money we make is another example. Spending money is necessary to live in our society. Many people have a goal of buying a home, so a common goal is to save money for a down payment. When the habit of spending starts to negatively affect our goals, it becomes classified as a bad habit.

Most people go through life with both good and bad habits. Those habits may change, depending on where you’re at in your life. Although habits are hard to change, it can be done. The point should be to have the good habits outweigh the bad. By making conscious decisions about which habits you would like to live with, you will ultimately enrich your life. Set goals for yourself. You can achieve your goals by putting your good habits to use.

What are Habits?

Habits are behaviors we perform daily and with little thought process to do so. It’s almost as if some of our daily habits are done automatically. We often classify habits as either being good or bad. There are also everyday habits that allow us to carry out essential activities, most of us have, that are simply our routines.

Everyone has habits. From what time we go to sleep or wake up in the morning, to what time we eat our meals or even tie our shoes – these are all actions we perform daily without even thinking about them. Good habits are categorized as behaviors that benefit our lives. Eating right, getting enough sleep, being financially responsible, and staying active daily are some habits that are generally considered good. Conversely, bad habits are behaviors that don’t enrich our lives or no longer work for us. Some examples of bad habits are fingernail biting, the overindulgence of food or alcohol, and drug use. These are learned behaviors that don’t benefit our lives. Then, there are daily routines that become habits too. Like the coffee, you always buy from the same coffee shop on the way to work, or what time your body wakes up naturally every day, or even the way you put your clothes on in the morning.

There are several reasons why we use habits and why they are important. We use habits to make our lives easier. For instance, think about the simple task of brushing your teeth. You don’t have to concentrate on how to brush your teeth every day; you just do it out of habit.

When we do things out of habit, our brains are allowed a break. Performing these tasks allows the brain to allocate more energy to focus on complex tasks and decisions. So, habits are actually important for brain function.

Habits are hard to break, whether they’re daily tasks or good or bad. Similarly, new habits are hard to form. Doing so requires a conscious effort. Lots of times, people end up going back to their old habits, even after trying hard to form new ones. This is why losing weight or breaking addiction is so hard. Changing your habits, changes the way your brain works, it’s no simple task.

Habits can be anything we do daily, from the mundane tasks to the decisions we make every day that affect your life. Habits can be considered good or bad, but we know that they are an important part of how our brains work. We can choose our habits in order to live a healthier lifestyle.

Hydrate – Why We Need Water

Water is more than just something we need on a hot day… Water is VITAL to a healthy and properly functioning body. Staying hydrated is a very important part of a healthy mind and body. Keep reading to find out just a few reasons why we need water.

Strong Muscles
Without water, your muscles can’t get the oxygen they need that is normally carried through your blood. When this happens, your muscles can’t perform at peak efficiency—leaving you more easily fatigued and sore. Be sure to stay well hydrated to help your muscles be strong, and to avoid painful straining and cramps!

Mental Health
When your body isn’t getting the water it needs, it has a huge impact on your brain. Focus, thought processes, emotional state, and more are all directly connected to brain function. Being hydrated can help reduce brain fog, stress, and anxiety by helping your mind stay clearer, faster, and calmer.

Skin Care
Water helps the body flush out toxins and chemicals from the body. These are often picked up by our skin products and the foods we eat. So when we aren’t drinking enough water, these substances can sit in our skin for a long time… This can contribute to skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and more. We need water to help our skin be clearer and able to properly flush out any ick that’s seeped into it.

Blood Pressure
Dehydration can contribute to both spiking and falling blood pressure. This can be particularly dangerous to those who may have certain medical conditions… By not drinking enough water, your blood pressure can drop because of the lowered blood volume. This starves your body of much-needed oxygen and nutrients and can result in shock.

On the other end of the spectrum, lack of water can lead to heightened blood pressure as well. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys go into self-preservation mode and try to get more water into the body by re-filtering urine rather than passing it. This creates a concentration of a hormone called vasopressin—which can cause a spike in blood pressure and constricted blood vessels.

These are just a few reasons why we need water in order to have a healthy mind and body. A good rule of thumb to be sure you stay hydrated is to drink half of your weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weighed one hundred pounds, you would need fifty ounces of water a day to be properly hydrated. Until you’ve developed good water-drinking habits, keep track of your water intake each day, and figure out how you can improve so you can have a healthier lifestyle. Happy hydrating!

Change Your Exercise Mindset and Change Your Life

Exercise is fun, right? Well, it’s not fun for everyone. In fact, many people consider it nothing short of torture. Perhaps it’s because they’ve fallen prey to many of the myths about exercise. Changing your exercise mindset, and letting go of these myths, can change your life.

No Pain No Gain

How often have you heard this lovely cliché? It implies that exercise must be painful in order for it to work. That’s just not true. Believing it is a sure-fire way to avoid exercise too! Who wants to feel intense pain? Actually, exercise can and should be fun and something you can do each and every day. Because honestly – if you’re not having fun, how likely are you to continue doing it? If it’s not easy to do, how can you find time to fit it into your day?

It’s a whole lot easier to motivate yourself to go for a walk or a bike ride to the store than it is to run five miles, right? And you can fit a walk into your day every day. It’s easier to go play tennis with a friend than to climb on the stair machine at the local gym. And much more fun, too.

You Have to Exercise to Be Healthy

More and more, scientists and doctors are learning that movement is more important than exercise. Exercise tends to be defined as a sustained activity for twenty, thirty, or even sixty minutes. It’s a spin class, the time it takes to run three miles or an hour on the treadmill. However, studies are showing that it’s more beneficial to have a practice of moving your body rather than “exercising.”

Moving your body means walking; it means being physically active. It doesn’t mean an hour in the spin class – unless you enjoy the spin class. Exercise is fine as long as it’s part of a daily habit of movement. Instead of sitting at your desk for four hours, getting lunch, and returning to your desk, get up and take a five-minute walk each hour. If you can, stand at your desk. Bike to work. Walk to the coffee shop or store.

Adopting a Healthy, and Active, Mindset

If you dread working out, find an activity that you enjoy. The activity should require movement – knitting or watching Dancing with the Stars doesn’t count. Play tennis, hike, play golf, swim, or take a dance class. Do something you enjoy that gets your body moving.

Additionally, take a look at your current habits. What can you replace with movement? Where can you fit physical activity into your day? It doesn’t have to be a five-mile run; it can be a one-mile walk. The important thing is to move.

If you like goals and numbers, shoot for ten thousand steps a day. That’s about five miles and to reach that number each day, you’ll likely have to create a few new habits. You can do it. Your health depends on it. To your success!

Enjoying Your Workout: Why It’s Crucial and How to Do It

One aspect of working out that people seldom pay attention to is their own enjoyment of it. After all, if your goal is to lose weight or to build muscle, why would it matter how much you enjoy your workouts? The reality is, however, that it really does matter. It plays a big part in your motivation, in your workout habits, and ultimately on your physique.

A lot of people approach working out as a chore. It’s something they dread doing, but do it because they “have to” in order to get fit.

Yet the people who truly get fit tend to be the people who have a very different attitude. The people who really build the kinds of bodies they want are the people who look forward to every workout.

They’re the people who will go for a jog or go weightlifting if they have nothing else to do. They’re the people who’ll voluntarily read books on the subject, just to further their education.

So how do you develop a love for working out if it doesn’t come to you naturally?

Learn to Enjoy the Burn

The burning sensation that you feel when you’re working out can either be extremely unpleasant or one of the most motivating feelings in the world.

That burning feeling is a sign that you’re achieving the goals you want. It’s a sign that your body is changing. It’s a sign that you’re moving forward. Once you can make that link on both a conscious and unconscious level, every time you feel the burn it’ll feel great rather than bad.

It’ll also become a personal challenge to you. How much of the burn can you feel, while pushing through? Instead of being an annoying sensation, it becomes a workout buddy. It becomes the challenge of the workout.

Losing weight might be your long-term goal, but in the workout itself, the burn gives you something to shoot for at the moment: to push through that next set and to go further.

What You Eat Makes a Difference

Trying to do a workout when you’re feeling lethargic isn’t fun. On the other hand, when you’re bursting with energy, working out is just a natural inclination.

The food you eat has a huge impact on your overall energy and physical wellbeing, which in turn has a big impact on how much you enjoy your workouts.

If you aren’t paying attention to your food, it’s time to start. Not only does it affect your workout, but it has a huge impact on your body composition. In fact, your body is shaped more by what you eat than your exercise routine.

Can Stress Make You Gain Weight?

Numerous studies have shown that excessive stress is associated with weight gain. Dating back to when our ancestors were wearing animal skins and hunting with spears when the body encountered a fight or flee situation, it released a series of hormones as a response to the situation.

While our fight or flee situation today may be more related to mounting credit card bills or something that happened at work, instead of getting attacked by a wounded Wooly Mammoth, the response by the body is the same.

When your body feels stressed, it releases three hormones – adrenalin, corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), and cortisol designed to give us the energy needed to deal with the stressor. In most people, the effect of adrenalin and CRH is a short-term decrease in appetite. Cortisol on the other hand lasts longer and is designed to replenish our bodies with food after the stressor has passed.

The problem of today is that dealing with our stress does not involve physically expending calories, however, the effect of cortisol is the same – eat after the fight or flee. So eating becomes the relief from the stress. While that response worked well for our ancestors, it leads to weight gain for us today.

For many people, the food they turn to is simple carbohydrates (aka sugar). The body’s response to sugar (a sugar high) is to release insulin (and usually more than it needs). Because insulin is the hormone that allows those calories to be stored as fat in our cells, and we have more of it in our bloodstream than we need at the time, too much sugar is stored resulting in low blood sugar (the crash). Our body recognizes that it needs more sugar … and the cycle continues.

While initially, this is a behavioral response, it can quickly evolve into a learned response, meaning you consciously turn to food in times of excessive stress. So how do you break the effects of stress?

Do the following things:

Exercise – Find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Not only will it burn calories, but it will help control your cortisol level.

Eat right – You can eat small meals throughout the day consisting of foods high in fiber, but low in sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Get enough sleep – Sleep deprivation increases cortisol levels.

Relax – Choose an activity that makes you feel relaxed and calm. It will counter the biochemical effects of stress.

Minimize caffeine and alcohol – These can also raise cortisol levels and can keep you from getting enough sleep.

Try taking multi-vitamins – Stress can deplete essential vitamins, especially the B and C complexes.

While you may not be able to completely control the stressors in your life, you can control how you react to them. Use the information in this article to take control and avoid stress-related weight gain.

Cortisol and Endorphins

Exercise can give you joy? Working out can make you happy? Yes, experts in the fields of fitness, psychiatry, and psychology say there is ample evidence supporting the idea that exercise and physical stimulation cause happiness.

Let’s talk about Cortisol and Endorphins …

The human body is an amazing machine, and it actually rushes to its own rescue when it recognizes the physical stress that comes from exercise.

Cortisol is a hormone your body produces when it recognizes stress in any form. Anger, fear, and anxiety can also produce cortisol in your body. Unfortunately, cortisol buildup causes inflammation and can damage your organs. Exercise uses cortisol as an effective fuel, burning it much faster than it can be replaced.

And no doubt you have heard of the morphine-like endorphins that are released when you strenuously exert yourself. When you take a walk, go for a run, dance, lift weights, practice yoga, or Pilates, these hormone molecules called endorphins act on your brain’s neurons, blocking receptors that send pain signals to other areas of your brain.

And on top of that, some researchers have said that endorphins are more naturally and powerfully able to create feelings of happiness and joy than harmful drugs like opium and morphine.

How Getting Fit Can Make You Happier

Did you know that getting fit and in shape can actually make you happier? Chronic depression is combated with regular exercise, and aside from helping you return to your natural body weight, regular exercise and other fitness activities are great for your heart and your circulation.

Most fitness experts will tell you that a brief and brisk half-hour walk immediately makes you more alert. And intense physical activity of any kind actually stimulates certain brain chemicals which cause you to feel happier and more at peace.

Of course, there are the self-esteem benefits that make you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror and see how all your hard work is paying off. The key to becoming happier is regular exercise and dedication to your fitness goals. This includes ensuring you are drinking lots of water throughout the day, and changing your lifestyle to include a healthy diet.

WebMD is one of the most respected healthcare websites on the entire Internet. They explain just how getting fit can make you happier, and it all has to do with chemicals called endorphins. These wonderful little natural mood boosters actually talk to your brain and help reduce your perception of pain.

And these endorphins are released in great quantities when you exercise for an extended period of time. Have you ever experienced a euphoric feeling after an intense workout? Long-distance runners call it the “runner’s high”. This is due to the massive release of endorphins in your body, which drastically and quickly cause a happier and healthier outlook.

Produced in your spinal cord, brain, and other parts of your body, these chemical good guys also act as sedatives. However, unlike chemical sedatives such as morphine, there is no unhealthy addiction or dependence created when your body is flooded with these miraculous stress relievers.

WebMD researchers go on to explain that regular exercise of even mild intensity levels promotes positive self-esteem, can erase feelings of depression, is great for lowering anxiety and reducing stress and can even improve your sleep patterns.

Your outlook on life is always better when you feel good about yourself, and the chemical process already hardwired into your physical makeup ensures that you feel happy and energized after a workout.

You knew that getting fit and losing weight would help your heart, lower your blood pressure, and improve your strength and body tone. But now that you understand your body is chemically aligned to make you happier when you exercise, you have just one more great reason to start a regular fitness program.

5 reasons to start an exercise program

You can’t get away from it. You know you’re supposed to exercise because every time you go online they’re talking about exercise. You probably know that exercise improves your health and it helps you lose weight. However, there may be some benefits that you’re not aware of. These exercise benefits may be exactly what you need to find the motivation to start an exercise program.

  1. It makes you feel like a kid again – When you try a new sport or fitness activity, it can remind you of when you were young. Do you remember running on the playground and your feet moving so fast you could barely keep up? Do you remember the joy? There is a sport or fitness activity out there that can make you feel young again. Seek it out!
  2. You’ll sleep like a baby – Exercise not only fatigues your mind and body so that you must sleep, it also releases hormones that help regulate your sleep cycle. If you struggle with insomnia or find that you wake frequently during the night, try exercising.
  3. It helps with anxiety and depression – Did you know that about 10% of the population suffers from some form of depression? Even more, people deal with chronic anxiety. Exercise has been shown to help reduce symptoms of both of these conditions. Exercise releases hormones that mimic antidepressants and anti-anxiety hormones. You not only feel great right after a workout, the effects last the rest of the day.
  4. You get smarter – Who doesn’t want to boost their brainpower? Exercise has been shown to increase creativity, critical thinking, and boost your thought response time. There are two reasons why this happens. First, when you exercise you pump more oxygen and nutrients into your brain. Second, exercise requires you to learn new movements. It’s brain training!
  5. More confidence – When you approach a fitness program with a realistic plan, you’ll create a pattern of success. Each workout you complete and each goal you achieve makes you feel more confident.

Exercise isn’t just great for your body, it’s also great for your mind and spirit. You’ll feel happier and more excited about life. And when life’s inevitable challenges arise, you’ll feel more capable of handling them.

How Workout Dates Help You Stick To Your Goals

The key to attaining your fitness goals is to work out with consistency. You start a new exercise program filled with excitement and goals, but soon you are bored with the same exercise routine, discouraged by the lack of results, or sidetracked by life in general. Pretty soon, you are back to your old ways of sitting on the couch and eating ice cream and potato chips.

Keeping that excitement and commitment going over the long haul is hard, but here are some ways that can help you stay the course:

Find an Exercise Buddy

Whether you exercise with a friend or your significant other, being accountable to someone other than yourself is a great way to keep you on track. When you commit to working out with someone, you do not want to let them down, nor do they want to let you down, so not showing up for a workout becomes more difficult than just going.

Schedule Your Workouts

If you are like me for something to get done, it has to be on my schedule. If not, something always takes priority, and consequently, the non-scheduled things take a backseat; workouts are no different. However, by scheduling your workouts both on your personal calendar and the one you have at work, your workout time becomes just as important as anything else you have scheduled. If you are using an electronic calendar, such as Gmail or Yahoo, set the reminder so you get either an email or pop-up reminder a certain time before your workout is supposed to begin.

Exercising on a consistent and routine basis will eventually become part of your healthy lifestyle. Eventually, you will reach a point where you will feel guilty if you have to miss a session – even if it is due to something beyond your control. But to get to that point, where exercising becomes second nature, requires diligent and deliberate dedication to succeed on your part.