It’s always ten, isn’t it?
So my daughter challenged my husband to come up with ten things he does in his own life to maintain and enhance his health and well-being. Ten activities, ten habits, ten whatevers.
He, in turn, challenged me.
There’s a philosophical component to this challenge and I suspect one needs to be a little on the OCD side, but there are things each of us does everyday, personal rituals, that contribute to our health and well-being or, maybe just maybe, detract from our health and well-being.
Since I come from a long line of OCD-ers and health nuts, at least on my dad’s side, these sorts of rituals are pretty much second nature to me. I’m not claiming everything I do is right for you or that it stops me from falling down and breaking bones– which I do with some regularity. But in general it seems right for me.
And if Tom Stronach says one word about my butt I’m gonna smack him upside the head unless he says it in Scottish, in which case all is forgiven.
1. I drink water, around 2 liters a day. This doesn’t mean I never ever drink a Coke or a beer or tea or coffee, but I believe water is best for hydration and re-hydration. And I like it.
2. I exercise first thing in the morning before eating. I drink some water, maybe grab half a banana if I’m feeling hungry, and then I’m off on a 2-3 hour hike with my dog. A. I can’t hike these hills with a full stomach and B. Despite conventional wisdom which tells us to eat breakfast I couldn’t care less about breakfast and I never have.
3. Unless I’m too sick to get out of bed, I hike every single day. Jake requires two hikes/walks per day and what Jake requires Jake gets. I don’t think of exercise as exercise. Our early morning hikes are the best part of my day. I’m convinced my brain would not work very well without fresh air so we go regardless of the weather. My mental health depends upon activity.
4. Background noise. I’m referring to all the background activities I do day in and day out. I rarely sit still. Even if I’m on the computer I’m busy doing ten other things like gardening, watering the plantings– which takes two hours of running in and out the front door and back door– or playing ball with Jake, or dusting or sweeping the floor or washing dishes or making a tuna salad or cutting up vegetables… This is deliberate on my part. I’ve made a habit out of inefficiency.
Example: If I’m making a cup of tea I fill the tea kettle and turn on the stove, get a cup from the cupboard, retrieve my tea canister from the pantry, remove a tea bag, put it in my cup, return the tea canister to my pantry, grab the jar of raw honey and loosen the lid before I set it down, return to the pantry for a box of ginger crystals, carry the box out of the pantry, remove a package of ginger crystals, return the box to the pantry, retrieve a spoon from the silverware drawer, set it down, retrieve a pair of scissors from my office (to open the package of ginger crystals) and set the scissors down near my cup, pour my hot water, add a spoon of honey, return the jar of honey to the pantry, cut open the ginger crystals and add them to my tea, throw away the empty package, stir my tea, put the spoon in the dishwasher, return the scissors to my office, run to the garage freezer for a ginger cookie, grab a plate and, finally, sit down to drink my tea and eat my ginger cookie. Do you see how inefficient I am? Sorry if I’m making you dizzy. It’s by design. I’m inefficient all day long.
Here’s another example – laundry. After folding laundry I make a minimum of three trips up and down the stairs to put it away. I never carry everything at once. One of my OCD rules.
5. I never ever eat low-fat or diet foods. Ever. I avoid them like the plague. Diet sodas are full of chemicals and low-fat foods are full of sugar, sodium, and highly processed carbs. I don’t worry about eating fat, as in I do not believe fat makes one fat, but I’m choosy about my fats– I eat the natural fats along with my meats and I use olive oil and butter for cooking, occasionally canola oil for baking. My cholesterol is off the charts good. May be just me, but it is.
6. I avoid processed meats, although I do occasionally indulge in nitrate-free bacon. I avoid processed foods, period. Even when at a party. I’m particular when it comes to my calories.
7. I minimize my carb intake, but if I’m baking I don’t hesitate to use unbleached white flour. In other words I do eat desserts but I bake my own. I have a rule about desserts- if it’s not homemade I ain’t touching it. And I don’t like ice cream at all so I guess that helps. I know… Crazy, right? Can’t stand ice cream.
8. I love cheese and eggs and chocolate. Unappologetically so.
9. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink much. An occasional glass of red wine or a little whiskey is about it for me.
10. I make exceptions, especially for crispy French fries with loads of ketchup or a great wine or a fantastic cocktail. And I don’t stress about exceptions because they are just that, exceptions.
Oh, I’m going to add a few extras:
11. I don’t own a scale and I never will own a scale.
12. I think sex is healthy.
13. Love and kindness are good for your heart.
So here’s your challenge– What ten habits do you incorporate into your life that enhance your health and well-being?