HEALTHY HABITS HIERARCHY


By Dwayne J. Clark

Over the years, I’ve learned that there are layers of action that lead to health and longevity. Not so different from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, these layers of action start with what I would consider the very foundation of my wellbeing and work their way up. While everyone’s hierarchy of healthy habits may not look exactly the same, I wanted to share mine to prompt you to consider your own.

SLEEP

A good night’s sleep is extremely important for good health and longevity. It’s when the brain and body cleanse themselves of toxins and create new, healthy cells. I prioritize sleep above all things because I understand how important it is to my performance as a husband, father, and CEO. If you find you’re regularly not getting a good night’s sleep, leaving you lethargic, irritable, and inattentive in the morning…it’s time to make a change. Consider:


  • Unplugging two hours before you go to sleep.

  • Investing in your bedroom so that you feel comfortable and at peace.

  • Getting a sleep tracker and logging your deep and REM sleep. Initially, see if you can get one hour of deep sleep every night.


For more examples of changes you can make to ensure that you’re getting the best sleep, check back in on my recent blog: 9 Ways to Get the Sleep Your Body and Brain Deserve.

RELATIONSHIPS & PURPOSE

Close relationships create happiness that in turn feeds the body and brain. While we know we are social beings, we’re not often taught how to connect our friendships. Feeling connected to other people can give you a sense of purpose and meaning–as well as confidence–allowing you to face challenges, learn new things, and be resilient. People who know they are needed–those who have a purpose–tend to live healthier, longer lives. Maintaining meaningful relationships may mean:


  • Taking/making the time to do enjoyable activities with your friends. Don’t put it off!

  • Picking up the phone and calling instead of texting.

  • Finding a way to connect with someone 20 years younger than you; friendships of all ages bring new perspectives and insight you may never have considered.

  • Extracting yourself from toxic relationships including at work, at home, and in your friendships.

MOVEMENT

Think about moving rather than exercising. The modern gym is an American concept. The rest of the world sees their environment as a gym and moves to stay fit.


  • Track your steps. Learn your average and evaluate ways to up that number, double it if you can!

  • Commit to getting more movement around your home. Try gardening, tackle a new house project, or walking the dog more frequently to start.

  • Find more ways to move at work like walking meetings, taking the stairs, or even utilizing a standing desk so you have the freedom to move as you work.


For more discussion about movement and keeping mobile as you age, make sure you watch my recent Wellness Warriors podcast episode: “Tamilee Webb shares her journey about Kinesiology and her series 'Buns of Steel'!”

WELLNESS CONSCIOUSNESS

Nobody knows you like you do. Be an expert on your health. Knowing your body better than your doctor lets you take charge of your health and healthcare. We need to look past what we see in the mirror and instead focus on how we feel. A couple of things you can do to keep tabs on your body are:


  • Investing in a good scale, blood pressure cuff, and glucometer (if you’re worried about diabetes).

  • Testing and recording each number–weight, blood pressure, blood sugar–every morning to learn your trends.

  • Documenting your movement and keeping a food diary, and note how these are impacting you.

  • Bringing all your data to your doctor’s appointments and preparing for your time with your doctor in the same way that you would prepare for a business meeting.

FOOD

It’s important to understand which foods are helping and which foods are hurting your body. In the previous section, I mentioned keeping a food diary so you can create data for your physician, but it goes deeper than that! Knowing where your food comes from, avoiding hidden and over-processed sugars, and buying local are all things that can help get you on the right track. Make sure that you also get into the habit of:


  • Writing down the foods that you know upset your body. Avoid those, and sugar, for 30 days and document the results (weight loss, less gas/nausea/bloating).

  • Timing how long it takes you to eat your meals, especially dinner. Over the course of a month, see if you can extend your time by one minute each night. Take time to enjoy your food and allow your body to digest instead of rushing it, your food is an experience!

  • Making regular appointments with a nutritionist to get your blood tested for nutritional imbalances and to learn which foods are best and worst for you.

  • Consider filling out your nutritional needs with a personalized vitamin regimen.

PREVENTATIVE CARE

Take advantage of preventative care and medical screenings. Also, do your research to connect with highly-respected medical practitioners trained to treat the body as a whole and improve your body’s innate healing power (acupuncture, integrative-functional medicine, nutrition, massage). Before you schedule an appointment, look into the background, reputation, and legal standing of your potential provider. Once think you’ve settled on a provider, try:


  • Calling and requesting an opportunity for an intake “meet and greet” appointment so you can “try before you buy”.

  • Preparing for your appointment by creating a list of questions and important requests that you need your doctor to address.


How would you organize your hierarchy of healthy habits? What additions would you make? Let me know in the comments below.



~Dwayne


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