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Posted on 12-04-2013

What separates the people that are getting chronic diseases from the people that live into their 60's, 70's and even 80's without any chronic disease or use of rely on the use of medications. Below are 10 of the most common traits all healthy people share. There are also action steps to get you closer to making them a daily habit for yourself.

1.)  They eat a whole foods based diet.

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Most healthy people understand that if it’s processed, it’s most likely not healthy. They also understand that the FDA, Big Food Brands and the USDA are not necessarily in your corner when it comes to health. If it says “sugar free” and “fat free” it’s usually going to do more harm than good.  They tend to eat things that are fresh, natural and organic as opposed to genetically modified, pesticide rich and artificial.  They also tend to drink water and avoid the sugary drinks, especially pop (or soda/coke for you folks in other parts of the country.). They also understand that sugar is a poisonous substance to our body and avoid it as much as possible. One good rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t grow in nature, it’s probably not healthy.

Action Step:

Start increasing the servings of whole foods and decrease the amount of processed foods every time you go to the grocery store. Buy a blender to make smoothies filled with raw vegetables (like kale and spinach) and healthy fruits like bananas and berries.

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2.)  Their health is their first priority.

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When you ask most people what their #1 priority is, they usually get around to realizing it’s their health. If you ask most people would they rather trade places with Steve Jobs, they’ll most likely answer no. He had plenty of money, but he had poor health. This is why healthy people realize that spending money on things that will keep them healthy like massage, chiropractic, gym memberships and organic foods realize that they’re investing in their #1 asset, their health. Healthy people also respect the body’s ability to heal and overcome disease. Taking medications often doesn’t get rid of the symptom or problems. Instead, it masks the issue until it requires surgery or more medication. They take steps to change their eating habits, exercise more and use conservative approaches to get their health back on track rather than masking the symptom. They also realize that if they’ve spent the last 30-40 years earning money for retirement, they want to be around to enjoy it and in good health. They also realize that by staying healthy, they’re going to save thousands of dollars on medical bills, prescription drugs, etc.

Action Step:

If you have any sort of symptom going on right now, whether its headaches, high blood pressure, back pain, etc. Make sure you go to a chiropractor, acupuncturist, naturopath, and/or a dietician to increase your bodies function to heal.

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3.)  They get plenty of sleep.

Sleep is where most of the healing occurs and where our brains tend to handle the stress of the day and minimize the release of cortisol (a hormone released during periods of stress.) Excess cortisol can lead to weight gain, joint soreness, irritability and fatigue. Getting plenty of sleep is the cornerstone of healthy people. They cut out the distraction at night, watch less TV and read a book before bed time to help relax their mind. Studies show that 8 hours of sleep increases your ability to focus and decreases your susceptibility to stress and chronic illness.

Action Steps:

Create a daily ritual that includes turning off the TV, doing a daily gratitude journal, and relaxing before bed. Doing meditation and deep breathing exercises is also helpful. Try not eating 2 hours before you go to bed. If you’re hungry, a scoop of peanut or almond butter will curb those cravings.

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4.)  They create goals and to-do lists and share their goals.

If you want to be healthy, you have to create health goals and you have to have some way of keeping yourself accountable with those goals. You can’t just say “I want to lose weight.” If you want to make a goal, healthy people realize that setting dates and being specific is the key. Instead of saying “I want to lose weight,” be specific about it. Instead, for example, if you’re 180 pounds and you want to get down to 160 pounds, set a goal as, “I want to lose 20 pounds within 3 months by eating whole foods, drinking more water and exercising at least 3 times a week.” Then post that goal on Facebook, Twitter or just share it with your friends or family. Also, one study found that the most successful people take before and after pictures at their milestone goals increased the chance of hitting those goals by nearly 80%. Healthy people use S.M.A.R.T. goal setting. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. If you don’t hit your goals, don’t get up. Count getting close to your goal as a success as well!

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Action Steps:

Create a goal today that will get you healthier in one month’s time. Make it as specific as possible and share it with as many people as possible. Jay-Z just decided to do a 22-day challenge of going vegan. He announced it to his fans and on Facebook. Also, look for an accountability partner that wants to get healthy with you and create goals together and a system for keeping each other in check.

5.)  They exercise on a daily basis and mix up their work outs.

They days of only doing cardiovascular training are over. Healthy people realize that a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise is essential in being healthy. Weight bearing exercise helps us burn fat faster and also helps us build stronger bones and a stronger core. If you’re unfamiliar with weight training, look into hiring a personal trainer for one month to educate you and make sure your form is good. As I stated in #2, investing in your health goes a long way in ensuring that you are healthy to enjoy retirement and all the money that you’ve earned.

Action Step:

Hire a personal trainer to learn how to weight train. Find an accountability partner. Go to sites like meetup.com and find other people that are working out. Get your spouse and/or children involved in doing exercise. Make it a game and have fun with it. Exercise does not have to be boring.

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6.)  They drink plenty of water.

Water is the lifeblood of our system. It’s what most of our body is made of. What most healthy people understand is that nothing hydrates you except water. Flavored waters such as Propel or Crystal Light, Gatorade, Powerade, Tea, Coffee, Soda are all things that will actually dehydrate you. If it’s not water, it does not hydrate your body. They also understand that most of those things contain sugar or chemicals like high fructose corn syrup that act just like sugar.

Action Step:

Get a glass water bottle and make it a goal of refilling it at least 5-6 times per day. This makes it easy to track.

7.)  They don’t sweat the small stuff and make it a habit to be thankful.

Learning to keep a positive attitude all the time helps to combat the effects of stress and the hormone cortisol. They learn how to take bad situations and turn them into positive ones. Not getting caught up in the little things will lead to a more productive day and a happier life. A couple ways to look at negative situations are by asking questions. “What’s the worst thing that can happen if x, y or z happens?” Once you realize what the worst thing that can happen is, you can often time move past it. If you’re in an argument, just say “I agree.” In a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People, it says to never criticize people and never argue. It gets you nowhere and can really put you in a bad mood. Healthy people are also grateful for all of the good things in their life. They tend to focus on the 99% of things that are going right and let go of the 1-2% of negative things.

Action Step:

Start a gratitude journal and every night write down the things you’re thankful for. Constantly evaluate the worst case scenario so you realize that you’re capable of handling even the worst case scenarios.

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8.)  They maintain good posture.

Tony Robbin’s, notable personal health motivator talks about how your posture is the window to how you’re feeling. If you’re in a bad, depressed mood most people tend to slump their shoulders and hang their head lower.  If you’re in a good, positive mood most people have their heads up high, shoulders back and their chest out.  Also, some people have issues with their spine that prevent them from having proper posture. If you’re concerned about your posture and what you can do to change it, consult a chiropractor. They are the only doctors on the planet trained to help correct spinal dysfunction.

Action Step:

If you’re having a bad day or in a lousy mood, evaluate how you’re carrying yourself. Think about how happy people hold themselves and assume that posture and smile. Daniel Tosh said in his stand-up routine, have you ever seen an unhappy person on a jet ski? Think about how they’re sitting: Heads up, smiling with their shoulders back.

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9.)  They don’t make excuses.

It’s easy to blame stress, the economy and a host of other things on why you are unhealthy and not where you want to be in life. Healthy people take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming others. They own up to their mistakes and are able to make the necessary changes to become healthy. As George Washington Carver said, “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

Action Step:

Stop making excuses! The gym is too far away. It’s too expensive. It’s a genetic condition. I HAVE to eat when I get sad. All of these are common excuses. Get rid of them and learn to take action and responsibility. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to change.

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10.) They practice a proactive approach to health rather than a reactive approach. 

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Getting sick is often due to a lack of doing the right things all the time. Being pro-active and preventing illness and disease is a lot easier than trying to fix the problem after it's begun. Eating well, thinking well and moving well should all be done on a daily basis. As Benjamin Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Healthy people also understand that prevention is not the same as early detection. A lot of times these terms are used interchangeably. But prevention is the act of doing something that promotes health and wellness and decreases your changes of becoming ill. Early detection is utilizing a technology such as MRI, blood tests, etc. to determine if you have a disease so that you can be treated earlier.

Action Steps:

Incorporate healthy eating, moving daily, exercising, positive mindset, gratitude journals and all of the other things we talked about to become proactive about your health rather than reactive.

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Are you doing all the things you should to be healthy? We hope so. If not, get on it! Don’t wait until January 1st to do it. Start today. If you liked this article, share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Print it out and mail it to a friend.

Dr. Canfield

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