Become a High Performer: 31 Habits in 31 Days
The 24/7 High Performers. Ever wish you could be one of those people? You know who they are. They always seems to have their life together. Carrying their water bottle with them. Bringing delicious-looking, healthy lunches to work. Full of energy. You admire them. But do you ever wonder just how they came to be? Time to find out.
I've worked with clients for years, and although they are all different, they can all benefit from some of these same "upgrades" in their day. I’ve crammed 31 of my favorite and simplest habits, recipes, and practices and incorporated a simple, one-day-at-a-time approach.
These are 31 habits that the healthiest people swear by.
Week 1: Let's Get Started
Day 1: Close your eating window
It’s day 1, and as promised, we are keeping it simple. Change nothing about what you are eating, but give yourself parameters. Eating within a defined eating window not only gives you guidelines of when to shut down the kitchen, but defining those times — and sticking with them, — can help you avoid overeating, especially late at night.
- Good: 12-hour eating window. Eat breakfast at 8am, finish your last meal by 8pm
- Better: 10 hours
- Best: 8 hours
That’s it! Don’t worry, we’ll get to the best ways to fill those windows. For now, just practice having guidelines. It all starts with discipline and planning!
Day 2: Start a Hydration Plan
Water = Energy
- Calculate your needs: Forget the old adage of 8 glasses a day. Your hydration needs are as individualized to you as your shoe size. And you wouldn’t wear shoes that were two sizes too large, would you? Here’s the simple calculation: Bodyweight in pounds divided by 2 = total ounces of water you should be drinking every day.
- Get the right water bottle. My favorite water bottle has to have two components. It must have measurements along the side so I know how much I have, and can quickly tell how much I have left. It should also be able to hold half of your total daily need. This way you can aim to drink one full bottle by noon, and another full bottle by bedtime. Simple.
- Take it everywhere. Fill it first thing in the morning and carry it with you like it’s gold. Take it to meetings, drink in the car, take it when you’re doing groceries. Whenever.
Can’t get in the habit? Set the timer on your phone to go off every 60 minutes. Alarm goes off, take 4 gulps of water. Reset. Sound silly? The healthiest people use small tricks like these every day.
Day 3: Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating involves being aware of what you’re eating, in the moment that you’re eating it, so that you can truly be satisfied when you’re done.
We satisfy our hunger in a variety of ways. The act of eating food fills our stomach and signals us when we are full. Ever been the victim of mindless eating? True satisfaction is more than just chew, swallow, repeat.
Practice mindful eating to fully satisfy all of your eating senses. Over time, you’ll find that you taste your food more, and need less. Here’s how:
- First, see your food. Really see it. Take just a moment to look at your food and notice what you like about it. The vibrant colors of the veggies or fruits, the beautiful orange color of salmon. Just appreciate it.
- Next, taste the food. Take a moment of that first bite to remember what makes this food so yummy. Let it sit on your tongue so your taste buds can absorb it. Then chew your bites slowly and appreciate the crunch, the juiciness, the savory, or the sweet.
- Remove distractions. Eating during work, watching tv, or being on social media means more focus is on the task vs. the food. When we eat without realizing we are eating we miss the experience. All of a sudden that delicious snack we packed didn’t even happen … but it did. Now guess what? You’re at the snack machine looking for something else because you didn’t actually get to enjoy your original snack.
Mindfulness matters. Try it and you’ll see!
Day 4: Add in the good
The healthiest people have a secret. They don’t focus on what they shouldn’t have, they prioritize what they should. And it’s easier than you think. Start by adding one vegetable or fruit every time you eat. Not sure how to do that? Here are a few suggestions:
- Top your scrambled eggs with salsa (yup, those are veggies!) and a few chunks of avocado. (yup, that’s a fruit!)
- Toss a handful of spinach into your smoothie.
- Pair your snack of almonds with some crisp baby carrots or a juicy apple.
- Raw sugar snap peas, cucumber, and strips of red pepper with hummus make the perfect afternoon snack on a warm summer day.
- Finish off dinner with a treat of grilled fruit.
Day 5: Take advice from other healthy people
The beauty of the internet is that we have information at our fingertips. The problem may be too much information. How do you figure out what’s real and what isn’t? That’s why you’re here isn’t it? Take the worry out of what you read. Here, we’ll do it for you. Spartan Race founder, outdoor adventure enthusiast, and probably one of the healthiest men on the planet, Joe De Sena tells us his 5 favorite foods for eating clean and crushing it! (As a Dietitian, they happen to be mine too!)
Day 6: Forget what you thought you knew about fat
Fats got a bad reputation back in the 70s and 80s when it was thought that reducing fat in your foods would reduce fat in your body. A low fat approach has been around for years, but obesity is still on the rise.
The truth is, healthy fats empty from the stomach slower than carbs and protein alone. They are also more challenging for the body to break down. This results in us staying fuller, longer.
Bonus! Many healthy fat sources (nuts, seeds, avocado) also contain fiber. Fiber also takes extra work for the body to break down, helping to maintain feelings of satiety and fullness. By incorporating a healthy fat food like almonds we are able to maintain this feeling, being less likely to snack on unnecessary calories throughout the day.
Day 7: Tell someone
Accountability is huge. Holding yourself accountable is eventually all that matters. You’ve made it a week now and you’re either successful (brag it up!) or you need reinforcements (no shame there). Time to tell a friend and start building a supportive community.
Do yourself a favor and tell a friend that will support and encourage you. You are a product of the 5 people you spend the most time with. One of those people is you. So tell a friend (or friends) and make it real.
Background on the 31 Habits Project
How does a 50-pound overweight teen become a dietitian and Spartan Pro Team Select member?
Years of hard work and a lot of trial and error.
Anne L’Heureux is Spartan’s Nutrition Editor and was recently named a member of Spartan’s Pro Team select. But who she is today, physically and emotionally, is far from the 14-year-old, 50-pound overweight girl with poor self-esteem that she was.
“It took me over 10 years to slowly piece together what I needed to do to be successful in getting in shape. I don’t want others to have to wait that long.”
Anne has compiled 31 of her healthiest habits into an easy to follow plan that will set in motion a healthier you. All you have to do is follow the simple plan for 31 days. So put the excuses aside and let’s go.
Note From Anne:
If you were to meet me today you would think that eating right and training hard came easy to me. You may even think that’s why I became a dietitian in the first place. You would probably be surprised to know this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although I grew up in a loving home, that love was often shown with food. By age 14 I was over 50 pounds overweight and was beginning to lose friends due to lack of wanting to be active. My poor habits weren’t broken until my early twenties, and even then it was a slow and somewhat steady stream of changes that got me to where I am today. It wasn’t easy, but it has makes helping clients with the same challenges a lot easier since I can put myself in their shoes. But while it took me years, I want it to take you a lot less.