The pursuit of a HEALTHY and HAPPY life really can be puzzling at times.
We read about great habits to put in place. Some are even presented as MIRACLE SOLUTIONS at times.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”… Right?
Or DOES IT?
In the end, even GOOD HABITS can turn out to be BAD when taken out of context.
And here are those that have really CONFUSED ME in the past.
Disclaimer: None of the content below is meant to replace medical advice. Please always consult a medical professional before implementing any changes to your lifestyle that might impact your health. For more information, read our disclaimer here.
1. Eating Fruits Every Day
As a child, I was really NOT into healthy food. I only liked pasta, bread, chocolate… basically, unhealthy carbs.
I had a hard time eating vegetables and even most fruits didn’t really interest me.
Luckily, though, my eating habits started changing in my teenage years.
Since FRUITS were so sweet, I had an easier time regularly eating those than vegetables. And I felt very positive about the fact that this was a major step towards a healthier life.
Of course, I wasn’t totally wrong. Fruits contain a set of nutrients and elements (vitamins, minerals, etc.) that are really beneficial to us.
HOWEVER, I have since then experienced the BENEFITS of including some “FRUITLESS PHASES” throughout the year.
I’ve had a set of health issues related to FOOD, and if you’re interested to read more about this, here are a few articles in which I tell some of my stories regarding this:
- The 5 Steps Of The Bad Sugar Cycle: How Sugar Makes Me Sick
- 7 Reasons Why I Quit Sugar (And You Should, Too)
- Wildfit 90-Day Challenge: An Honest Review
I went to see several doctors and made many tests. I’ve been advised to try out different diets, which were always cutting out at least REFINED SUGAR.
A few of those diets even excluded MOST SUGARS for a limited time.
And what I’ve learned for myself is that IT REALLY CAN BE GOOD to leave out fruits for at least a couple of days, every now and then. Of course, you should be eating very healthy (e.g. tons of vegetables) to truly feel the benefits of such periods.
But the body seems to be used to having FOOD CYCLES. And we sure did not have fruits in abundance all the time a few hundreds of years ago.
Hence, in my personal opinion, there are several reasons WHY one should leave out fruits every now and then:
Uncovering a potential FRUCTOSE intolerance.
Our body only can process a certain amount of fructose in a day. It would be hard to reach this limit by only eating fruits. Indeed, you would have to go WAY over the recommendation of 2-3 fruits a day to reach this point.
Unfortunately, however, many processed food items now have replaced refined sugar with fructose. So that it can be really hard to keep track of the ingested quantities.
By leaving out fruits (and eating healthier) for at least a few days, you can see whether you feel generally better and more energetic.
Provoking a temporary KETOGENIC phase.
Supposedly, our bodies are used to having different cycles which were historically depending on the seasons.
And those most probably included:
- low-calorie intake phases (such as winter, when food must have been rare),
- low-sugar phases, and
- high-sugar phases (when fruits and sweet veggies were ripe and easily available).
Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly DID NOT experience low-sugar phases during my first 30 years… Our modern diets are pretty sugar-intensive.
Which means that our body’s FAT-BURNING MODE (or ketogenesis) never gets triggered.
By leaving out sugars every now and then, you give your body a chance to get into KETOGENESIS. This process, besides its fat-burning effect, also seems to allow your body to clean itself or get a detox, if you will.
Helping your TASTE buds to change.
I WOULDN’T HAVE BELIEVED IT if I hadn’t experienced it myself.
Leaving out sugars for a few weeks really changed the way food TASTES.
A simple CUCUMBER appeared to be super sweet. All the vegetables have a more intense flavour.
In some cases, you even start liking food that you HATED BEFORE.
Causing a shift in your CRAVINGS.
And it’s the Wildfit 90 Day Challenge that really made me leap forward. It tackles the whole SUGAR-ADDICTION thematic, both on a rational and more emotional or even subconscious level.
It made me realise that it’s difficult to properly SHIFT your cravings regarding sugar when you EAT IT EVERY DAY… It’s a bit like a smoker who’d spot smoking cigarettes but keeps going to the smoker area every few hours.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should quit sugar and especially FRUITS forever. Hell no. But you can give your body a chance to develop other gut bacterias and shift its cravings by taking a temporary break.
2. Doing Sports Every Day
“DOING SPORTS” is one of those traditional HEALTH MANTRAS that can be pushed too far easily.
And I can plead SUPER GUILTY for sure on this one.
I used to think that SPORTS was the ANSWER and the CURE to everything.
Wanna lose weight, be healthier or more endurant? Need to release stress? Wanna give your brain an energy boost?
To all of these questions, I would mainly have ONE single answer: DO A MORNING RUN, every day.
And it doesn’t really matter whether, like me, you’d be a fervent runner OR were practising any other sports, every day, all the time, as a remedy for anything and everything.
The matter of the fact is that YOUR BODY ALSO NEEDS A BREAK!
If you are a sports fanatic or if you PLAN to be one, consider this:
- your performance will increase more and quicker if you give your body a break, regularly (at least once or twice a week).
- doing the same movement over and over again can cause you harm. Consider VARYING activities. You can do a “sport” one day and walk or stretch on another.
- SPORT is NOT the answer to everything. Are you trying to overcompensate for something else that you may not be doing right in life?
This last question turned out to be crucial for me.
I realised that my SPORTS MANIA was caused mainly by:
- the need to release incredible amounts of accumulated stress.
- the need to compensate for BAD EATING HABITS.
And I know that some of you will start ROLLING THEIR EYES. I used to do the same when people were criticising my sporty lifestyle.
Until I ended up with bad knees.
It made me reconsider. And in hindsight, it really feels to me like…
ANYTHING I MAKE IN EXCESS is there to COMPENSATE something.
What’s your stance on this?
3. Reading Before Going To Sleep
Ha! Here’s an unexpected one.
Isn’t reading the BEST THING EVER before going to sleep?
Literally EVERYONE says that a good book should always be at arm’s length on the night table.
But is it always true?
A few years ago, I was trying to implement this great, healthy habit myself.
And because I love learning languages, I had decided that I would try and read just a few sentences in Russian or Greek, right before going to sleep.
So, I had a Greek children’s book and a bilingual Russian novel on my night table, ready to be consumed.
I reached out and went for the Greek book. I started reading, and, to my surprise, I was understanding more than I thought I would. This beautiful language was fascinating me, and every sentence I read was only reviving this PASSION.
I was SO excited about my progress, that I started looking up more words and diving deeper into the story.
10 minutes later, I was FULLY AWAKE. As if I had just had coffee, if not worse.
That’s when I realised that READING (ANYTHING EXCITING) BEFORE GOING TO SLEEP is NOT a great idea.
A very good friend of mine had a similar experience as a teenager when reading HARRY POTTER for the first time.
PICK THE RIGHT READ if you intend to fall asleep soon…
4. Drinking Green Tea In The Evening
About 10 years ago, I had to face tough panic attacks. They came out of nowhere, and quickly developed to an extent I had never thought would have been possible.
In order to face the situation, I started reading about other people’s experiences. I tried to gather all the facts and possible tricks to help me out of this bad fear trap.
That’s when I read about CAFFEINE. Because this substance makes your heart beat faster and increases your nervosity, it can be a really big TRIGGER for panic attacks.
I wasn’t a big coffee drinker, but MY first panic attack was definitely triggered by a DOUBLE very strong homemade coffee.
But after reading quite a few posts on the topic, I realised it WASN’T ONLY COFFEE that produced this effect.
Certain teas, INCLUDING GREEN TEA, will wake you up.
So it’s not a great idea to binge on them at night…
5. Being Modest
Being modest is often seen as a very valuable character trait.
And I used to see it as the most important virtue to have. Because I can’t stand pretentious people.
BUT being OVERLY modest will HOLD YOU BACK.
There are many ways one can be modest and humble.
For instance, you can simply decide NOT TO MENTION one of your achievements or how many possessions you have when there would be a good occasion to in a conversation.
That’s an attitude that I actually find quite positive, depending on the situation.
It’s good training to NOT ALWAYS spill out all the things you have to say in every group conversation. Especially when it could put someone else at discomfort because they appear to have achieved less than you did on the subject.
BUT on the other end of the spectrum, some people tend to DENY THEMSELVES ANY PRAISE by modesty.
If you are one of those, YOU ARE GOING TOO FAR and could hurt your own personal development.
I should know this, as being overly modest was one of my character traits in the past.
At high school, I was a straight “A” student, but I refused to see myself that way.
I would always say “Oh I got lucky” or “Next time I will have a bad grade for sure”.
When others would call me “very intelligent”, I would blush and turn down the compliment. Saying that my IQ was probably no more and no less than anyone else’s.
And, as a matter of fact, I would REFUSE to acknowledge any of my strengths and skills EVEN TO MYSELF.
Which means that even on the INSIDE, I started believing that I was not worth much.
Being MODEST or humble means being verbally cautious about your ability to achieve something. So, in essence, you are signalling DOUBT, even to yourself.
And it took me YEARS to figure out how I was hurting myself without knowing by BEING TOO HUMBLE.
I had to go through one of my LOWEST points in life to realise this.
When I got PANIC ATTACKS for FEAR OF DISAPPOINTING MY SUPERIORS at work. Because I had CONVINCED my inner self that I was not able to do a job as well as my bosses perceived it.
They told me I was GREAT, but I simply could not believe it. So I thought “they’re going to be disappointed, I cannot live up to the expectations they’ve formed about me”.
That’s when I realised how much it is important to have a healthy dose of self-confidence.
And that being too modest is NOT A VIRTUE. It’s a lie. And it’s an obstacle to your personal growth.
6. Making Sure You Never Get Cold
I guess, like me, you’ve been often told to wear warm clothes not to get cold in the winter.
My grandma would always be mortified if I’d walk out with wet hair. “You will get cold and sick!” she’d say.
All of this really made me think that GETTING COLD equals GETTING SICK.
However, I first started questioning this when looking at the SAUNA practice. Normally, the best thing to do after 10 or 15 minutes of hot sweat in a sauna is to GET INTO A VERY COLD POOL for at least a few seconds.
I spent a few weeks in a small Icelandic village and people there told me they normally LEAVE THEIR BABIES sleeping outside in the stroller, even when the weather is VERY COLD. While they go and have a great coffee and conversation with a friend inside, in the cosy, warm café.
And they laughed at how tourists often get scared. They feel the need to “save” the infant and run inside to ask whether someone forgot their baby.
But in fact, the Icelanders told me, babies sleep much better outside. They are warm enough, and the cold and fresh air just makes them sleep better and deeper…
So, is getting COLD sometimes good and sometimes bad?
In the meantime, I believe that we have just gotten TOO COMFORTABLE in our western societies.
We got so used to living in a PERFECT TEMPERATURE environment, that we get scared every time we start feeling cold.
And I strongly believe that it’s even all much more of a mental mindset than anything else.
If you believe that the COLD WILL HURT YOU, it probably will. But if you see it as something that makes you stronger, well, once again, it probably will.
And the Wim Hof Method* seems to partly confirm this. Wim Hof also called the ICEMAN, has developed a method based on exposure to cold, breathing exercises and meditation that allows him to be exposed to EXTREME COLD without any noticeable impact on his body.
His health even seems to have been IMPRESSIVELY strengthened through exposure to cold.
Wim Hof’s story and case fascinate me because, for some time, SCIENTISTS DID NOT BELIEVE his achievements were authentic. They thought of him as a fake.
Until they were invited to conduct experiments and measurements of his prowess. Scientists had to acknowledge that Wim Hof was able to survive situations that they thought of as IMPOSSIBLE and lethal.
Even Small Exposure To Cold Is Beneficial
But you don’t have to go to these extremes to get the benefits of being cold.
Here are a few easy-to-implement practices that will help you rip the benefits of exposure to cold:
- Slightly lower the ambient temperature at home or at work.
- Take a 5-minute hot vs. cold shower every minute.
You can start with just a few seconds of cold and increase the proportion until reaching a 20 seconds cold, 10 seconds warm ratio.
- Use the opportunity to go out on a long walk when the weather is cold outside.
You can start off wearing warm clothes but can try to slightly increase your exposure to cold with time. I did this by wearing simply leggings to go out for a walk in the mountains this winter. However, I was still wearing warm shoes and a thick jacket, scarf and cap.
- Make sure that the temperature in your bedroom is low enough (between 60 to 68°F or 16 to 19°C).
This will help you sleep better and also has positive effects on your health.
7. Watching The News Every Day
Growing up, I used to think that WATCHING THE NEWS every day was a sign of high education and even a MUST for any somewhat cultivated adult out there.
It’s important to know what’s happening out there in the world, right?
You want to be informed about all the political and economical details presented in the daily NEWS. Otherwise, people will look at you like you’re from another planet.
Well, I’m a weirdo then. Because I TOTALLY STOPPED WATCHING THE NEWS.
And that’s for my OWN SANITY.
It was all triggered by ONE job interview.
I had taken a year off to travel and had stopped watching and reading the news every day. Until I started to prepare for a job interview.
I felt like my knowledge gap about what had happened in the world for the last 6 months would be a huge disadvantage.
So I started binging on TV and Podcast news.
It wasn’t long until ANXIETY, STRANGE FEARS and PESSIMISM took over.
Luckily, I quickly realised WHY this was happening, and decided NOT TO WATCH NEWS anymore.
I turned to more RELIABLE and more emotionally NEUTRAL sources of information, such as weekly newspapers. And I discovered that STICKING TO WRITTEN sources of information worked better for me.
I am highly sensitive and IMAGES trigger me, a lot.
By regulating the amount and sources of news I consume, I’ve been able to improve my mood and mental health A LOT.
8. Washing Yourself
It’s been only a few weeks since I heard a great, interesting interview with a German skin doctor, Dr Yael Adler.
In this interview, she explained how our SKIN already does ALL THE WORK for us, naturally.
Our skin is able to clean itself. It produces natural defences against dryness and dirt. And it also prevents us from smelling bad, naturally, provided we are wearing clean clothes.
No need to use creams, oils or EVEN SOAP. At least when it comes to taking a shower.
Dr Yael Adler explains how washing your body and skin daily with SHOWER GEL or SOAP actually DESTROYS this natural eco-system.
According to her, the only reason for us to use soap regularly on our skin is to WASH OUR HANDS after using the toilet or being in a public area. And that’s because the diversity of bacteria is simply TOO HIGH for our bodies to naturally be able to fight them all (as we would have been easily able to do in a small tribe with a regular pool of bacteria).
I found this whole topic fascinating and decided to read her two books in the coming weeks. They’re only available in German, so I’ll keep you posted about further lessons learned here in English…
9. Waking Up At 5 am…
There is this strange rumour circulating around on many blogs and channels that WAKING UP AT 5 AM will give you magical powers, instantly.
If you wake up at 5 am tomorrow, it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
I’ve done this in the past. I’ve had some phases of my life where I’d get up that early (sometimes even earlier) every day for a few weeks or months.
And I will admit that in any case, it DID CHANGE MY LIFE.
But NOT always for the better.
Here are a few pros and cons I found out about this UNICORN HABIT:
Waking up at 5 am is good because…
- You wake up with the feeling that you are AHEAD of the game.
This mentally gives you a boost. You feel like you can achieve so much more. As opposed to getting up around 10 or 11 am and feeling like the whole world already got so much done while you were snoozing around.
- The CALM and QUIET around you makes it easier to focus on a task.
That’s especially true when you live in the city. The 5 to 6 or 7 am time zone is just much quieter than anything happening after that, until 9 or 10 pm at least.
- You have FULL MENTAL CLARITY.
You just woke up. So, provided you had an OK night of sleep, your brain is CLEARER than if you’d try to get a task done at the end of the day.
BUT WAKING UP AT 5 AM IS REALLY BAD BECAUSE…
You will end up SACRIFICING EITHER your social interactions OR your SLEEP. And in the worst case, BOTH.
If I need a regular 8 hours’ sleep to feel well in the long-term, and I want to get up at 5 am every day, I should FALL ASLEEP AROUND 9 PM EVERY DAY.
9 PM. I am not kidding you.
And that’s just the time by which I should instantly FALL ASLEEP. To be realistic, I should probably BE IN BED BY AROUND 8.30 PM!
In most cases, that leaves me TOO LITTLE time with my partner, friends or family.
In may be different for you, of course.
But in my case, I started seeing my friends less AND became more tired.
What I’ve tried to do INSTEAD is to SHIFT MY MINDSET.
I started wondering WHY waking up at only 7 am would be bad? And my conclusion was that it’s NOT.
It’s just about mindset. If you believe that YOUR LIFE IS A RACE, then you will always feel like you are BEHIND.
Be kind to yourself and GIVE YOUR BODY the sleep it needs and your HEART the social time it needs FIRST.
10. Watching Documentaries
One of my NEW YEAR’S resolutions this year was to STOP WATCHING SERIES and drastically REDUCE TV TIME.
BUT I included an exception. I decided that DOCUMENTARIES or documentary-like TV were OK. Because they teach me something.
I still feel like this is a GOOD rough rule to follow.
However, a few days in, I realised just HOW ADDICTED TO TV TIME I WAS.
I started watching A LOT OF DOCUMENTARIES. I found that I spent almost as much time on TV and NETFLIX, just that the type of content I was watching was different.
In the meantime, documentaries have become SO APPEALING that it’s almost like watching a movie.
And that’s OK. I still prefer spending time like this than watching endless series and feeling like I only entertained myself for hours, but in an unhealthy way.
However, PAY ATTENTION to your TV consumption as a whole. Even if you are learning something, WATCHING TV is a VERY PASSIVE ACTIVITY. And studies have shown that high TV-consumption (above 3 hours per day on average) lead to negative health consequences at ANY AGE.
So, don’t be fooled and watch documentaries IN MODERATION.