As a coach, my mission is to support awesome people and help them live a life they love. I do that by getting to their “best case scenario” in life and business while moving at the speed of joy 🙂 What that means to me is that my clients achieve more than they ever thought they could while actually enjoying the journey. My passion is to help people find that sweet spot of continuous growth that makes them better and truer versions of themselves while experiencing more joy, fulfillment, and peace.
To make that possible, I’ve found it’s useful to create a strong foundation that allows us to operate at a higher level. Only when our basic needs are met, we can actually explore the higher grounds of self-actualization. Thanks Maslow.
So, I created a list of the eight most important healthy habits to help set that foundation. As someone who spent over a decade in the fitness industry helping people transform their health — and as an avid learner who geeks out on human performance research, self-love, and self-care — I believe in a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle 🙂
Before I fully committed to my personal development and self-care, I was a busy overachiever who had things to do and places to go. In other words, I had no chill and the narrative that I don’t have time to slow down, read, meditate, walk in nature, or take a bath. Five years ago, a lifestyle that put my needs first seemed absolutely impossible and out of reach.
Since I didn’t like how that felt after a while (think anxiety, weight gain, lack of joy, and time for anything I enjoyed doing), I started working hard on redesigning my life. I quit my full-time job as a fitness manager for a big company (which I worked very hard to get to), I enrolled to become a certified life coach, I moved to a new gorgeous, and inspiring apartment, and I stopped dating people who were waving the red flags. I also invested all of my savings into starting a new business, a personal trainer, and my own business coach. I began to go to the beach on weekdays because I could. I met up with friends for coffee and talked about my dreams. I could drop everything, get on the first flight and visit my dad in Bulgaria to spend the last week of his life with him when I found out his days with us here were coming to an end. I started spending time with my daughter that was more fulfilling because I was rested and present. I can go on and on 🙂
I credit the shift I’ve felt to dozens of self-help books, Landmark Leadership Courses, my life coaching certification course, and working with other life coaches. It wasn’t an overnight transformation but a process that took several months.
Yes, I’m making more money while working less on average. As an entrepreneur, I have bouts of intense work, followed by recovery and reflection. We are not supposed to maintain the same level of productivity constantly.
I love waking up on Mondays, and I love helping my clients feel the same.
“If you seek tranquility, do less. Or (more accurately) do what’s essential. Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more tranquility.” — Marcus Aurelius
I found that most of us benefit greatly from a structured plan that addresses overall health, fitness, and a work/life balance. But if you’re anything like most of my clients, you probably feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all the work done and still have some time for fun, relaxation, friends, and family.
I know what that feeling is. I’ve lived it, and sometimes I even slip back into that unhealthy rhythm. Thankfully at this point in my life, those periods are short because I recognize the signs of depletion, and I course-correct immediately.
I feel that the problem is twofold — we live in a culture that glorifies exhaustion and grinding, and we’ve also allowed our productivity or success to define our worth.
We can spend a lot of time on these topics. If you aren’t ready to change and put yourself first, please call a coach and see how you can start making small steps.
But if you are ready to start implementing more healthy habits, please dive in the list 🙂
#1 Time Blocking
We are starting with this habit because, to have time for health and fitness, we need to control our time. One primary source of anxiety in business owners and professionals comes from the daunting feeling of long to-do lists and never-ending work. By focusing on your schedule, you can create more time for wellness and decrease stress levels.
A fantastic strategy is to spend your Friday afternoon or Sunday night listing all you need to do during the week. That includes responsibilities, time for family and friends, and self-care. I block time for work, meals, exercise, friends, social media, chilling, reading, opening mail, budgeting, finances, studying, etc.
After the list is made and the tasks are distributed throughout the week, I make sure each day has only one important task. That should be the most important thing to get you to your ultimate goal (promotion, new job, graduation, complete a project, develop a new product, write a book, write a song, etc.). That task would probably take about half of your work time.
To achieve the most productivity, ensure that you don’t let yourself get distracted, interrupted, or pulled away. To read more on that topic, I recommend reading Gary Keller’s book “The One Thing.”
Implementing these strategies, I don’t wake up on Monday stressed out that my entire to-do list needs to be tackled immediately. As suggested by the book, take care of the one thing that would make doing everything else easier or unnecessary. You’ll see extraordinary results in your work and personal life.
If you find it impossible to fit in all of your personal life and your professional commitments, then you are trying to do too much too soon, or you’re not delegating and prioritizing well. You’ll have to take an honest look at your life and choose what matters the most. Start there and let the rest work itself out.
To maximize your time and be most efficient, focus on limiting distractions, a.k.a social media, email checking, and multi-tasking. Think of your work in terms of projects, and set up a distraction-free time to work on them. For example, writing this blog post has been a project on my schedule for a couple of weeks that I keep revisiting in chunks of time. I don’t do anything else in the one hour I’ve set aside to work on it. Responding to lengthy emails could be another project that you have set up daily while you address any tasks that could be done in three minutes immediately.
Be realistic with your time and always round up the time you think each project should take. If you time-block in advance and set your priorities, you are much more likely to turn down offers and projects that are not fitting in or give more realistic time frames.
One common issue that we work on with my entrepreneur clients is that because each one of their projects could be done in a few hours, they feel that it should have been done already. As entrepreneurs, we have many projects that could be done under one workday, BUT there are so many of them. The idea is not to judge ourselves for not getting it done yesterday but to focus on prioritizing.
Don’t forget to treat your personal time with similar respect where you put your phone away when you spend time with your friends, family, or self-care. Research shows that switching between tasks back and forth slows us down dramatically, so think how much time is lost each day checking each social media or email notification. How often do you forget what you were doing in the first place? Set solid boundaries and enjoy the benefits!
Lastly, if you have multiple online calendars, and if you have to share your calendar with others, I suggest using a paper calendar as a master schedule. You can transfer all your professional and personal commitments to your paper calendar that you can carry with you and maintain all your privacy and peace of mind. I use erasable pens to fill it out and then adjust throughout the week as needed. My absolute favorite is the “Law of Attraction Planner” because it has the days divided into 30-minute slots, and I can see my entire week on one page. It has a bunch of other bells and whistles, but those are my favorite tools.
Now that we have the organizational part done lets dive into some healthy habits.
It’s not the lack of information that has the U.S at over 70% of people overweight or obese. We all know that exercising more and eating better is key to longevity, and having the energy to live a fulfilling life. In the next few points, I’m going to lay out habits proven to keep you healthy and strong.
#2 Drink Your Water
I know, I know. I’m not the first person to lecture you about your 8 cups of water. But most people don’t drink enough water regardless of the amount of information available on it.
Here is what works best for me: find a bottle that can hold your water for an entire day or at least two smaller ones, and keep them with you throughout the day. If you exercise, you need more than 8 cups, so plan accordingly.
Not drinking enough water affects your health in many ways and may lead you to snack more than you need. And just so we’re clear, soda and energy drinks are not acceptable ways to hydrate or stake awake. Implement all these healthy habits, and you should be able to get through the day with healthier energy and caffeine sources. Constant caffeine and sugary drinks are not a sustainable way to live and definitely not worth the negative health consequences. I stick to sparkling mineral water when I need a little bit of excitement. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s inexpensive, has zero calories, and no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors.
#3 Plan And Schedule Your Meals
First, make sure to eat seated and away from your desk. That way, you are focused on how much and how fast you are eating, so when you are 80% full, you can pack up the rest of your food. The most recent nutrition research shows that eating until your 80% full may be the most determining factor for a trim waistline. Another benefit of this approach is that you’re bringing mindfulness to your eating and nutrition. You just need to know how much and what you are eating.
When I was a manager for corporate America, my eating was driven by stress and anxiety. Not only were my breaks not relaxing, but I always went back to work too full and sluggish because I had stuffed my face. I was running on adrenaline all day, and it was affecting my eating habits — we all know how unsustainable this lifestyle is. But when we live like this, we’re just borrowing time and health from our future selves. Have the discipline to sit down and enjoy three meals per day without getting distracted from your phone or work.
The quality of your meals also matters. Your mind and body deserve to be fueled with the cleanest sources of energy. If you drove a Bugatti, you wouldn’t fill it with the cheapest gas in town, would you?
If grocery shopping, cooking, and meal planning seem impossible or boring, consider meal deliveries. Not only is it a great life hack, but there are several very healthy options on the market that won’t break your bank. I’ve enjoyed ordering from Thistle for months. I enjoy the peace of mind of having healthy, plant-based, and well-balanced meals on the busy days of my week. Using those options could also help you establish healthy habits and learn what balanced meals look like.
If you cringed just by reading the word “exercise,” you first need to work on your relationship with your body and movement.
Change your perspective, so you feel empowered, proud, and joyful as you move your body. Your body is not a punching bag for your poor nutrition and drinking choices. Going on a run because you ate too much the night before is a form of self-abuse. Start thinking of movement as a way to promote health — not to reverse the damage that you’ve done. The magic is that as you continuously focus on promoting health and not “fixing” your body, your body will probably look and feel better as a result of your consistent work. The keyword here being “consistent.”
With over a decade in the fitness industry, I can confidently state that the clients who see the most results are the people who stay consistent. It’s not even the people who work the hardest. So set your working out schedule and create rituals. If you have to, become the person who belongs to a gym, carries a workout bag, and brings a lunch cooler to work. Decide on your routine and create the schedule you’ll need to stay consistent. Treat your workouts like an appointment. That’s one reason why hiring a personal trainer works — because you actually have to show up to an apportionment.
Another factor to consider is that the different types of movement can foster different qualities of your personality. Weight training makes you feel strong and capable. Yoga brings grounding and peace. Dance makes you feel free and self-expressed. Group sports foster your sense of community and belonging. What type of movement do you need in your life right now?
The ideal scenario is to have a mix of different exercise and physical activity throughout the week. My weekly routine at the moment (because it’s ever-changing) is to lift weights three times per week, warming up with a few minutes of yoga, go for a jog once per week (or do a dance class), a yoga class once per week and then as much walking, hiking or surfing I can fit in during the weekend. Of course, use common sense and seek advice from your physician before starting an exercise program.
For some of you, this will sound like a LOT, and that’s okay. Do what you can now, and start working up to a schedule that allows for more movement daily. Just because you can’t exercise several times per week now doesn’t mean you should give up on it altogether. One day per week is 100% better than the week before when you didn’t work out at all. Progress, my friends, not perfection.
Remember to choose the activities and sports that make you happy — or at least the ones you tolerate, but you love the results from.
We were not biomechanically designed to spend our days seated in front of a computer, so the least we could do is to designate time to move with intention. Your body loves squatting, deadlifting, pushing, pulling, and rotating. If you don’t know how to or if you need to modify the movements due to an injury or disability, hire a well-qualified trainer. It will be worth every penny. I’ve invested my fair share in personal training and physical therapy, and I love what it does for me. So play your favorite music, find something you enjoy, and stick with it. Your body matters. It is the only one we have to live in, after all.
#6 Designate Self Care Time
Yes, we’re all crazy busy. But if you want to be productive and truly be the best version of yourself, you need to take care of yourself. Nobody else will, and nobody else should. It is your responsibility to make time to feel good.
My weekly habits are a salt bath, reading, staring at the view from my window while drinking my coffee, a walk on the beach, or a yoga class, and I am incorporating a form of creativity time when I can. I often draw and color with my daughter or build legos. Nail, hair care, and massages also could fall in the self-care category, but only if you enjoy it and not as your effort to be more attractive.
No matter what it is, self-care should be something you want to do, not something you feel you should do. So, if yoga is not your thing and you prefer coloring or baking — enjoy it, guilt-free! As Jen Sincero said in “You Are A Badass,” treat yourself as the most awesome person you know. Treat your body with care, stretch it, exercise it, hydrate it, celebrate it, dress it up, show it off. You only get one, and spare parts are pricey.
It’s also good to add mindfulness practice in the form of prayer, meditation, tuning in, or zoning out that connects you with your higher self, the universe, or God as a way to care for your spirit. Miracles happen when we are grounded and in-touch with ourselves. When we are aligned, our purpose seems clearer, we make wise choices, and we feel at peace. Standing in a place of clarity and peace makes everything seems possible—even your to-do list.
Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep (8.5 hours for me, please). Find out the optimal time and the best window for you to consistently get the same amount of sleep.
When you do this, you’ll have more energy, be more productive, and see more results from your workouts. Our minds and bodies need time to recover. There aren’t always obvious signs that our health is being compromised, so we have to tune-in to our bodies to really listen to what they need. For me, if my eyes are twitching and my fuse is getting shorter, I know it’s time to slow my roll.
I think it’s funny how so many working professionals believe that they can feel like shit and still produce good work. Imagine what your contributions to this world would be if you were well-rested, hydrated, fed, exercised, and connected to self and your tribe. I want to see the result that that version of you produces. As a society, we have so much shame around laziness and selfishness that we can’t distinguish between our needs and what’s actually being slothful.
On that note, women are notorious for having some sort of self-worth issues that prevent them from taking even minimal care of themselves, especially when spending money on themselves. If you don’t think you are worthy of pampering and spoiling, why do you think others would see value in doing so for you? We set the standards for how we are being treated by the example we give for what WE do for ourselves.
There is no medal at the end of this race for you arriving at the finish line exhausted and worn out. Just FYI.
#8 Schedule Time For Connection
In today’s busy world, it’s so easy to isolate ourselves, and that’s a problem when we’re wired for human interaction and connection.
In an interview with Lewis Howes on The School of Greatness podcast, Researcher Brene Brown said that happiness depends on connection and belonging. Investing time to catch up with friends and share your thoughts, ideas, and goals will inspire you and charge your soul’s battery.
In terms of success, our reality is created in language. We shared around the fire for thousands of years, so don’t underestimate the power of sharing your thoughts. Next time before you set yourself up for a Netflix binge, consider calling some friends first.
I feel that culturally we are making a shift, and we are leaving behind the old narratives of grinding and glorifying exhaustion. More CEOs are treating their performance like Olympians by hiring coaches, health experts, and treating their physical and mental health the respect it deserves so they can achieve everything they are dreaming of. FYI — high-level athletes are extremely focused on their recovery as a strategy for their top performance. In their corner, they have masseuses, psychologists, coaches, nutritionists, and other experts.
If you see more organizations implementing mindfulness and fitness programs at the workplace, it’s because they’ve seen the overwhelming research that when their employees are well, their productivity rises, their sick days decrease, and overall health costs decrease. Therefore they have a healthier bottom line.
Take your profitability, productivity, and wellness in your own hands and organize your life around the health of your mind, body, and spirit so you can thrive and have a healthy bottom line.
After reading this list, you probably discovered something new for yourself. You might be a master of five or six of the habits already. My suggestion is to make your list with your non-negotiable habits; you print it out and stick it to the fridge or in your office. We both know that 1,000 things compete for your attention at any given time. Don’t expect to remember your commitments. To be successful in anything, you need a system.
Write them down, put them up, and follow them: set reminders, notifications, and rituals. Honor your word and honor yourself.