If you could only do a few things, start doing these 3 things every day

Disclaimer: None of this is a medical advice. I’m not a doctor. If you find it helpful, consult with your doctor.

In my twenties, I ate what I craved, slept inconsistently and rarely did any exercise.

It was fine until it wasn’t. 2017, the year that changed my perspective on the power of foods, exercise, and sleep on our health. 

After a few months of celebrating my 30th birthday, I was due for an annual physical. To my surprise, my vitals moved from being perfect to borderline and on track to be requiring some medications in the next 5–10 years.

My doctor advised some lifestyle changes. But that wasn’t enough. I pursued my curiosity and looked for some medical research. 

I read several studies and including books that helped me understand the impact of food, exercise, and sleep on our body. 

There is a famous question

As you grow old, do you want your brain or your body?

I want both. I don’t want to treat the disease by taking medications, I’d rather ward off diseases.

Just after a year doing these consistently, my vitals are perfect, I can eat however much I want without worrying too much about vitals or gaining weight. My curiosity, creativity, memory are all optimal. 

Without any further adieu, here are the three things you can start doing today that will make you more attractive, cleverer, healthy, happier and ward off diseases.

1. Sleep

Not just sleeping but sleeping consistently. Sleep about the same number of hours every day, i.e., 7–9 hours of daily sleep.

You can try the following to improve the quality of your sleep:

  • Consistency: Weekend or weekdays, try to sleep the same time and wake up around the same time. If you slept late, wake up at the same time. Then go back to sleep early the following day or same time to retain a consistent sleep pattern.
  • Caffeine: Limit caffeine. Remember 1/4 of the caffeine is still in your body after 12 hours. So, if you sleep at 11p, stop taking coffee after 11am. Even if you think you can sleep by drinking coffee before bed, likely you are not getting a deep sleep and unrested in the morning. A consistent deep sleep will reduce your caffeine dependency.
  • Screen time before bed. Lighting and blue light plays an important role for inducing sleep. Use dim-lights and avoid screen time an hour before your bed time.
  • Dinner time The best time to eat dinner is 3 hours before bedtime, allowing the stomach to properly digest. Eating small amounts of foods like complex carbs, fruits, veggies, or a small amount of protein will satiate hunger pains and help you fall asleep faster.
  • Taking a hot shower for at least 10 minutes before 1–2 hours of your bedtime combined with cooler bedroom temperature will help you sleep faster and improve your sleep quality.
  • You don’t go to the dining table and wait for the meals, the same way, go to bed when you’re ready to sleep.
  • Trying reading a book to unwind or listen to an audiobook, bedtime story, essential oils, whatever relaxes you.

2. Exercise

Not just occasional exercise, but doing it consistently.

Pick an exercise that you can do it every day. Walking, running, sports, swimming, cardio, weights, or a good mix of these. Ideally, a 30–45 minutes of low intensity exercises (e.g., walking) and 15–30 minute of high intensity exercises (e.g. running).

If you like walking, walk every day for 45–60 minutes. Walking for 1–2h everyday significantly boosts our immune system. This is my preferred exercise. I walk about 1h on weekdays and 3–5h on weekends (usually trails).

Note that, not all walk are equal. I recommend Forest bathing when possible, i.e., walking in the nature has significantly higher benefits in improving your immunity compared to walking in the city. Nonetheless, walking in general has several health benefits.

3. Eat Healthy

The best diet plan is no diet plan. Focus on eating balanced meals.

What’s a balanced meal? 

  • 1/4 of your plate is whole grains: quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, other whole grains of your choice.
  • 1/4 of your plate is protein: Protein of your choice. I highly recommend plant-based proteins like Tempeh, lentils, beans, etc. But if you can’t give up meat completely, choose your animal protein wisely 🙂
  • 1/2 of your plate should be vegetables. Again don’t fill it up with mash potatoes. Not all vegetables are equal. Go for dark leafy vegetables, the cruciferous family or follow the rainbow color.
  • Bonus: Cut fresh fruits and nuts of your choice and enjoy as dessert

What you eat improves your mood and energy. 2/3 of your immune system is in your guts. And your gut needs a good amount fiber and essential nutrients to help fight diseases. Add more vegetables, fruits, nuts, healthy fats, and other fiber rich food to your meals.

Avoid processed food as much as possible. 

Further Reading

  • How Not to Die — A great read to understand how plant-based whole foods diet can reverse diseases and improve longevity. This absolutely the best book I’ve read on nutrition and diet, highly recommend it.
  • Why we sleep — This is a must read for every person on earth. You will understand how a good night sleep makes us cleverer, more attractive, slimmer, happier, and healthier, and ward off cancer.
  • Ikigai — The Japanese Secret to a long and happy life. Ikigai is the art of doing something — and doing it with supreme focus and joy — as revealed by the daily habits of the world’s longest-living people.
  • The body keeps the score — An essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society.
  • Lifespan — reveals the emerging technologies and simple lifestyle changes — such as intermittent fasting, cold exposure, exercising with the right intensity, and eating less meat — that have been shown to help us live younger and healthier for longer. Lifespan will forever change the way we think about why we age and what we can do about it.

I can’t wait to hear from you if you’re already doing these 3 things or hearing your thoughts once you’ve tried it for a few weeks. 

Stay healthy, Stay happier, Stay sharp. Stay tuned.