They say actions speak louder than words. But if you listen closely to the words of healthy people, you’ll see that the things they say might actually be a little different than everyone else. We spoke to experts in different fields—nutrition, fitness, sleep, cardiology, and more—and asked them: What things do healthy people avoid saying? Their answers may prompt you watch your words more closely and, more importantly, change your mindset about healthy living.
1. "I Earned This Cheeseburger.”
“Healthy people understand that their favorite chocolate cupcake is not earned at the gym,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D.N., author of Body Kindness. “Look at food as the gasoline for your body, fueling your muscles to do the exercise and activities you enjoy.” With that mindset, when you face a cupcake, consider, How would I feel if I ate too many? That should help to motivate you to savor just one. And expand your definition of what a “treat” is. “A treat isn't a reward, it's a food you enjoy—and that could be mac and cheese or a really good salad,” Scritchfield says. Sit down when you're eating something you like—really enjoy it, and appreciate every bit and the people you're with.
2. “Just This One Time.”
When you set a goal, you intend to stick with it, right? “But if you decide you will never eat donuts again, and then say ‘Maybe I’ll have one just this one time…’, you are not only breaking your own rule but also increasing the chances that you will do so again,” says Cleveland Clinic staff cardiologist Haitham Ahmed, M.D., M.P.H. “This affects your control and confidence in your own plan, and before you know it, your whole plan unravels and you are no longer practicing the behaviors that you had intended to.” If you find yourself struggling to stick to your goals, they’re probably too strict, Ahmed adds. So rather than making a goal to exercise every single day (and setting yourself up for failure), make a goal to exercise 30 minutes at least four days a week. Or instead of vowing to banish chocolate altogether, make a goal to choose fruit instead of chocolate or another dessert at least four days a week. “You are much more likely to adhere to a goal like this,” he says.
3. “I Can Catch Up on Sleep Later.”
“Sleep is not like money—you don't borrow from yourself to just pay it back later,” explains Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D., director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. And that's actually a good thing, because you don't need to repay yourself for hours lost. However, it also means that every night is important. “If you want to keep your body working well, you need to get enough sleep, every night,” Grandner says. And the research consistently backs this up: adequate sleep can help with a healthy weight, heart, brain, and may even help to prevent diseases like diabetes. But how to actually make it happen? Step one: aim to get plenty of light during the day. “Our internal clocks keep all of our biological rhythms in order and in sync.
But since these systems are imperfect, we are constantly using light to synchronize our clocks,” Grandner says. “If we don't get a strong daytime signal of bright light, then we don't have as strong of a nighttime signal and our body has a hard time knowing when to get ready for sleep.” So get outside for at least 30 minutes daily, ideally in the morning. Then power down your devices at least an hour before bedtime. Otherwise the blue light from your phone or laptop will send a “daytime” signal to your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.