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Best Healthy Habits: A 13-Step Weekly Checklist

Building and maintaining healthy habits is something that happens over time.  Feeling confused about which habits to focus on is totally normal!  With all the access to the information we have today, it can be downright difficult to know where to put your attention and intention. With healthy sleep habits, healthy eating habits, healthy exercise habits, and even professional and personal healthy habits, it can be a lot to keep up with!

This checklist aims will give you the habits that will help you make the most of life no matter what your goals are.

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Extremes: A Few Words on Exploration

People are all different.  


In many ways, we are not as individualistic as we would like to think.  For health and wellness, the habits for success for each of us are close to the same.  Be aware that the variation within those habits is wide.  This variation can even swing within the individual during different seasons of life.

For example, when we are young, we can likely recover from more stress with less sleep.  This does not mean young folks should sleep less. This just acknowledges that as we age, we should pay more attention to if we are sleeping well and take serious action when we are not.

Another example is deep focus.  Our brains love having deep focus and problems to work on.  If you are studying for exams, have an essential work project, or are launching a company, you may need to spend 2 or even 4 times as much time in deep focus for a few weeks or months as you otherwise would.

Noticing the Changes

These variations within ourselves become evident over time. Our own physiology will make this more evident over time.  To know what does and does not work for you, testing the extremes is necessary in some areas.  We shouldn’t try the extremes for too long but may need to test them. We may not know what does and doesn’t work for us without pushing the boundaries.  You can try to sleep for 12 hours a day for three days in a row, and it is probably not going to work.  You can also try to eat in a caloric deficit for three years, but you’ll find your quality of life drastically diminishes. 

Test the extremes periodically, but do not live in them.  Now for a practical checklist.

1.) Get your sleep in order

Get around 8 hours of quality sleep each night.


Want to have the healthy habit that will give you superpowers?  Superpowers like better mental acuity and memory while growing stronger and faster?  Want to have the secret to being a better human? Be more fun to be around? Be generally more admirable?


This sounds like something from either The Matrix or a testosterone replacement therapy advertisement, but it is not.  Dialing in your sleep is the magic pill that unlocks all of the abilities and more.  Healthy sleep habits belong at the tope of the healthy habits checklist.


Getting around 8 hours of sleep each night opens up the door to a better brain, a better body, and a better attitude.  Getting quality sleep is difficult for many of us.  I am writing an in-depth article diving into what I have found that works for me.  I will LINK HERE once I have completed it.

A few highlights include:

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  Aim on the higher side if you exercise.

  • A cool room. I use the 8Sleep cooling mattress to help.

  • Blackout curtains

  • White noise

  • Morning and evening sunlight

  • Limit screen time the 2 hours before going to sleep, and use blue blockers if you must.

  • Consistent bed and wake times

  • Limit liquids a few hours before bed to avoid excessive nighttime bathroom breaks

  • Limit caffeine to 200mg per day and none after 11:00 am

  • Limit alcohol to a few drinks per month 

  • Avoid night shift work if at all possible

More on sleep to come, though this list is a great place to get started.  As a weekly checklist item, can you be honest with yourself in achieving these conditions six of the seven nights of the week?  If the answer is yes, welcome to a world where you are one of the few superhumans.


Here is a simple comparison of 2 nights of sleep, one with alcohol (left) and without alcohol (right). Nearly a 50% improvement in resotrative sleep. Going to be earlier helps, of course, but booze makes it all worse.

Whoop App sleep scores can show when a healthy habit is beneficial
Two nights compared. Sleep scores showing my sleep quality consuming alcohol versus no alcohol. You can see heart rate lowering over the night when alcohol was consumed versus starting at a much lower heart rate when no alochol was consumed.

2.) Connect With others

Make it a priority to spend no less than 2 hours per week connecting with others:


Connecting with others is vital to health and happiness.  Even the most introverted of us benefit from human connection, though that connection might look like connecting with a spouse or lover instead of a group of friends.

Setting aside time to laugh by the pool with friends, play a game, a sport like pickleball or soccer, or gather over a meal are all great ways to bond and expand your heart and mind.  Listening to others gives you a new perspective, a chance to laugh and learn, and a chance to be a friend and help others.  These can all lift you up and make life more enjoyable.

Going out with friends isn’t always on the table, nor is it enjoyable for some of us at a high frequency.  Connecting with our partner can still offer many of the same benefits.  To be free in our lover’s arms, to laugh, to kiss, to share moments all make life worth living.  Whether it looks like exchanging naked massages or hiking through the mountains, these moments and these memories help make each day more wonderful.  Just taking the time to appreciate your significant other can make life easier and fill your cup.

3.) Hydrate

Drink water: 50% of your body weight in pounds in ounces.


Hydration doesn’t have to be complicated, but it often is!


An easy formula to follow is:

  • ½ of your body weight in pounds in ounces of water per day

So if I weigh 180 pounds, then I would aim to drink no less than 90 ounces of water each day.  The more you exercise, the more you should drink.  “Drink plenty of water” may have been decent advice, though we can be a bit more specific.

The effectiveness of hydration is limited to the amount of sodium and electrolytes you consume.



We can’t talk about hydration without talking about sodium and electrolytes.  If you were born in the 20th century, you have seen sodium demonized over the years.  Common recommendations were to limit salt intake due to an insane rise in blood pressure levels.  If you have a diet that consists primarily of real foods prepared at home paired with a decent exercise habit, then adding salt to your water may be a necessary step for adequate hydration.  


Part of the ‘avoid sodium’ narrative from back in the day is based on the fact that people were eating a lot of canned vegetables and preserved meats where one serving could have over 1,200mg of sodium.  If you monitor your sodium intake from food sources and realize it to be less than 1,000mg daily, it is probably a good idea to add 3-5 grams of salt to your water each day. I like to add salt to the water that I take to the gym as my one salinated water for the day.


Consuming enough electrolytes is easy enough. 

So long as you eat leafy greens, fruit, and meat each day then your electrolyte levels are probably good to go.  


If you are in long endurance events, are training in the heat or are prone to cramping, then having an electrolyte supplement like LMNT can be extremely beneficial.  


Plus, these flavors taste incredible.  Bonus points for LMNT as it has salt in each packet as well, so you can knock out two birds with one stone!

4.) Nutrition

Have a goal to work towards: Know your caloric baseline and have a path to raise or lower your body weight.


Hitting your nutrition goals can be easy if you know what you are shooting for.  When I hear that someone is struggling with their nutrition goals, I’m not shocked to find out that they do not have a clearly defined nutrition goal to aim towards. Healthy eating habits do not have to be overly complicated.

Check out these tips to guide you toward your healthy weight. 


Having a Goal

Nutrition goals typically fit into four distinct areas:

  1. Lose weight (fat)

  2. Gain weight (muscle)

  3. Improve performance/recovery for training

  4. Maintain

Identify one of these as your primary goal and move towards that.  I have created this in-depth article to help you understand your caloric needs based on your activity level and how to use nutrition to help you get there. 

A summary looks like this:

  1. Understand your baseline (use this calculator to help).

  2. Understanding how to count macros is critical to maintaining a healthy weight and can help you get the most out of your nutrition.

    1. Eat nearly 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day.

    2. Aim for a fat intake between 20 and 35% of your total calories based on your goals.  Prioritize healthy fats.

    3. Eat the remaining calories from carbohydrates, prioritizing fiber and saving processed carbs (if you can afford them) to time exercise.

  3. To lose fat, cut 250-500 calories per day based on your size from carbs and/or fat.

  4. To gain muscle, add 250-500 calories per day based on your size from mostly carbs

  5. To improve performance/recovery from training, try to max out intake from carb sources.

  6. To maintain, go back to your baseline caloric intake.

  7. Be sure to hold a caloric deficit or surplus for no more than three months.  Ideally, go back to maintenance calorie levels for two weeks after each 6-12 week bulk or cut.

It Comes Down to Energy Intake


A healthy diet can be improved with great quality foods, but most of it comes down to appropriate energy intake.  Fruits and vegetables may get you part of the way there, though these steps will help you maintain a healthy weight, with healthy eating being one of the top five healthy habits.

5.) Get Outside and walk

Walk 10,000 Steps Each Day.


Is there some magic about hitting 10,000 steps each day?  Sure, there is.


Moving more at a low-intensity can:

  • Improve heart health

  • Burn calories without beating up the body

  • It can moderate your blood sugar levels if walking after a meal

  • Help your brain to reset from screen time and work

  • Provide a chance to bond if you have a pet or a partner to join

  • It can help you to get exposure to the sun


All of these are great points, but I love the points on moderating blood sugar and exposure to the sun. It’s amazing what a few minutes of walking each day can do.


Moderating Blood Sugar

A simple walk after lunch can reduce blood sugar levels by up to 18%. This randomized control trial shows that walking immediately after eating or up to 30 minutes after eating can help substantially improve glucose levels.  And this analysis reviewed numerous papers where to find that timing of activity after a meal can lead to lower blood glucose levels.

I take my dog for a 15 to 20-minute walk after each meal while working from home.  Just these 3 walks get me to 10,000 steps, get my dog some activity, and both of us some sunshine.

Exposure to Sunlight


Exposure to sunlight is critical year-round. 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that seeing light in the morning can help you to fall asleep at night while also making you feel more awake. Sunlight helps your body make serotonin which helps with mood and sleep. Light therapy is a useful intervention for disorders that affect sleep. The benefits can also be utilized by healthy people as well.

Similarly, getting light in the evening can help sleep by mitigating exposure to artificial light sources.  This published article illustrates how evening light exposure can help natural melatonin production for a restful night’s sleep.

Walking my dog after each meal helps me to get morning light exposure after breakfast and evening light exposure after dinner.  The walk after lunch allows me to break up the work day and gives me a little nature break after sitting in front of a screen for hours.



Walking can help so many aspects of our lives.  It promotes physical health across many fronts and is undoubtedly part of a healthy lifestyle.  Lowering your risk of heart disease while spending quality time in nature is at the top of my healthy habits.


6.) Moderate Vices

Know an acceptable tolerance level for your vice and do not exceed that level.


We’ve all got vices.

Whether it’s traditionally identified as a vice, like drugs, smoking, or alcohol, or something a bit more sneaky, like watching sports, browsing social media, or binging BravoTV, identifying what the vice is and maintaining a healthy relationship with that vice is vital to maintaining wellbeing and promoting growth in life.


As a guy who used to drink a 6 pack of craft beer a night, smoked cigarettes, and generally just avoided responsibility, it took me a few years of hardship and being honest with myself to realize how to have my cake and eat it too.  It took me a while to realize that I was contributing to my sleep deprivation with this bad habit.


As more and more research emerges, we are understanding that alcohol has only physiological detriments and no benefits.  Social media usage is positively correlated with depression and feelings of self-worth.  Cheap dopamine is a convenience we are better off avoiding.


Traditional Vices

The traditional vices are easy to say, ‘Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t do that.’  Coming from a family hooked on fried foods and other junk food, heart disease, and numerous other health problems were the norm.  I thought that genetics were possibly to blame. Being just 22 years old when put on medications for high blood pressure, I knew it was time to make a change.


Slowly, I was able to quit smoking, pulled back from 6 beers a night to 1 beer a night, and I really thought I was moving in the right direction.  For years I limited myself to one beer each night before realizing that my 4 cups of coffee per day habit was also not a healthy habit.  After a few more years, I realized booze had no benefit.  I was consuming it just out of habit.  This same routine was what had me over-consuming caffeine. 

Now my wife and I may have a glass of wine every other week on date night or not.  I still love a good whiskey or tequila drink in the right company and occasion, but I limit booze to no more than 2 or 3 drinks per month.  This is not because of some ‘holier than thou’ position or something that feels forced.  I’ve just realized that I can’t do more than that and function at the level that I want to function.  


Every time I have a beer, I feel sluggish the next day.  I am less motivated. If I drink once each week, I’m losing no less than 15% of my week.  My recovery scores on my health trackers show a clear physiological negative, and my mental space is much more negative.

It’s not limited to booze

The more aware I become of how my own vices negatively influence my life, I see others and see how the vices they have are having negative impacts on their life.  Cell phone usage, doom scrolling, sugary drinks and other sugar intake, binging TV, and even efforts in the name of productivity can be a vice that is just avoiding work or delaying recovery from life stresses.

The physiological and psychological no-man’s-land
Sure, unwinding with a show or some Instagram can help to take the edge off after a long day or week.  Be aware of when ‘taking the edge off’ turns into mindless consumption.  Mindless consumption is this physiological and psychological no-man’s-land.  You are not progressing forward with any specific goal, nor are you recovering or resetting from the stresses of the week.


Figuring out the threshold of when to consume vices while having an awareness of when to be present for the more meaningful things in life is a skill developed over time.  You don’t have to be neurotic and inspect every action that you take.  Let your awareness of how you spend your time and whether it is allowing you to bond with others grow.  Is it helping you progress toward your goals?  Is it helping you recover from stress, or is just wasting time and energy?

This is one of the most valuable skills to develop over time.  It takes a little bit of living at the extremes to understand what ‘moderation’ really means to you.


Grow your awareness of your own bad habits and elevate your life.

Whoop App Recovery Scores can show when healthy habits are beneficial
The same two nights compared in the lseep section, but shown as a recovery score in my Whoop app. Alochol consumed (left) versus no alcohol consumed (right). A roughly 50% improvement in heart rate variability and a 15% improvement in resting heart rate with no alcohol consumed.

7.) Reset and Recharge

Allocate 3 hours each week to true restoration activities.


Taking time to truly reset can be hard and should likely be scheduled into the week ahead of time.  Scheduling ahead of time can help to make sure that you adhere to the practice.  This is one of the most under-appreciated good habits for great physical health and great mental health.

Recharging takes intention in today’s society.  I’ve already waxed poetically about distractions and how mindlessly consuming drugs, media, and other vices doesn’t actually lend to recovery.  We have to have intention about unplugging from life to let our mental and physical energy levels replenish.  Being truly present in an activity that doesn’t require physical or mental exertion is a safe bet for an activity that fits into this category.

A few options look like meditation, sitting poolside with no expectation of exercise, and gentle hikes outdoors.

My Ideal Recovery Session
A dream recovery session for me looks heavily partner involved, where:

  • A hike or sitting outside with no books, media, or phones for 30 minutes to an hour

  • Exchanging massages and taking a shower together

  • Sexual activity with no agenda or motivation beyond seeking and providing pleasure

  • Sharing dinner over a glass of pinot noir


Sure, there can be tons of variation within this list.  Connecting with my partner for extended periods of time puts my mind at ease, makes me feel excited and rejuvenated, and provides me with motivation throughout the week.  This session could take 3 hours or maybe is split up throughout the week.

For those of you that enjoy meditating, 20 minutes of meditation a day has over 2 hours covered.  I have also found that the more stressful life gets, the more time I need to take to be present and at my best for my wife and others in my life.  This is a sliding scale for all of us, but I’ve found 3 hours per week to be a minimum for me.  Throwing in a sauna or cold plunge can be icing on the cake.


Commit to being in the present moment.

8.) Cardiorespiratory Development

2-3 Zone 2 Cardio Sessions Each Week


Having a healthy diet and prioritizing healthy foods is a great way to prevent heart disease and lower high blood pressure.  The next step is to add extended low-intensity exercise sessions as part of your regular exercise routine. 


What is zone 2?

A commonly used protocol for understanding exercise exertion levels is the 5 heart rate zones.

Without overcomplicating it:

  • Max heart rate = 220 – your age

  • Zone 1 = 50-60% of your max HR

  • Zone 2 = 60-70% of your max HR

  • Zone 3 = 70-80% of your max HR

  • Zone 4 = 80-90% of your max HR

  • Zone 5 = 90-100% of your max HR


So for me, as a 35-year-old:

  • Max Heart Rate = 185

  • Zone 2 = 111-130 BPM


For a healthier life, a longer life expectancy, and prevention of cardiovascular disease, including 2-3 sessions of 30-60 minutes of zone 2 cardio each week is proven to be beneficial.  Zone 2 may not be the most exciting physical activity to engage in, but it can lead to better mental health while lowering the risk of a heart attack.

Even if you currently hit the gym a few days each week, if you are not including zone 2 cardio, then you are missing a big health benefit.  Recommended by health professionals like Dr. Peter Attia, this healthy habit is a no-brainer.

9.) Strength Training

2-3 Focused Strength Training Session Per Week


The strength training rabbit hole can be much deeper than zone 2, though strength training is one of the best healthy habits to have.  The basic principles of strength training are:

  • Identify a technical max in any given lift. A technical max is a 1 rep max attempt where you are exerting near maximal effort without compromising form.

  • Go through 3-week blocks of varying rep ranges in that lift where weight increases linearly

  • Take 1 week of lowered weight and volume as a deload

  • Retest the lift, aiming for higher than the previous technical max

  • Add variation to the lift for the next block


The basic principles of strength training with regard to muscle groups would be:

  • 1 squat pattern

  • 1 hinge pattern

  • 1 pressing pattern

  • 1 pulling pattern

  • 1 rotational pattern


There is so much we could touch on here.  For the purposes of condensing into a simple weekly habit tracker, these are the principles. You could easily hit all of these major patterns in 2 distinct 1-hour sessions each week.

  • Session 1 = hinge pattern and pressing pattern with rotation work in warm-up or accessory work

  • Session 2 = squat pattern and pulling pattern with rotation work in warm-up or accessory work

The author squatting with a barbell and weights. Strength training appropriately is a healthy habit
The author front squatting. Getting in the weekly squat pattern.

10.) Calisthenics/Gymnastics Work

2 Sessions of Body Weight/Core Compression Work Per Week


We are talking about abs here.  Working on gymnastic hollow body progressions is fun.  It can work on grip strength since a lot of drills have you hanging from a bar, and it will help you to be more well-rounded and protected in both lifting and endurance work.


This can easily be combined at the end of strength sessions and still fit into your 2 sessions in under 1 hour.

Pick one of these to add to the end of each strength session.  Rotate through.  Increase time or reps over time as they become easier.  On strength deload weeks, only do 1 set so you can deload your body completely.  If you have an interest in growing your skill set and adding more movements to your tool belt, a simple Google search for “core compression work” will leave you with years of work and progressions to try out.

Building a strong core is a new habit you will not regret.

11.) Deep Focus: Professional Skill Development

Have a Professional Goal and Dedicate 5 Hours Each Week Towards Achieving


This may already fit within the scope of your current employment.  Even still, having an hour a day, 5 days each week to really push into leveling up that next skill or ambition is key to continuing to grow your salary or your business.

I am currently working to develop a series of assets around health and wellness. These assets will address the most common questions I hear in the health and fitness space.  They are in the form of blog content which I will augment with video content over time.  I am spending no less than 5 hours each week delivering this content.

Maybe you are studying for exams, learning to code, or trying to understand marketing and SEO for your business.  Slot out 1 hour each workday to figure these skills out and go for it.  You’ll be surprised how much your skills will grow over the course of a few months, not to mention a few years.

12.) Deep Focus: Physical Skill Development

Commit 1 Hour Each Week to Acquiring a New Physical Skill


Juggling? Skiing? Backflip? Carpentry? Drawing? Musical Instrument?

The list is nearly endless, but find something that occupies physical space that requires focus and attention to get better at.  Continuing to get better at general physical skills over time makes life more fun. It is also a good habit to keep your brain learning new things.

13.) Take Responsibility

Be Aware That You Are In Charge, and Take Charge


Take charge of your life by accepting responsibility for every possible outcome and working to influence that outcome.

One of my favorite ways to live this principle daily comes from Seth Godin.  He states something along the lines of:

  • “If it takes less than 2 minutes to complete, just do it.”


This was in reference to all the ‘little’ things that pile up in our lives, like:

  • Emptying the dishwasher

  • Dropping a load of clothes in the laundry

  • Taking the trash out

  • Et cetera


These small tasks are easy to avoid when we feel pushed to our limits each day.  By acknowledging that a task takes less than 2 minutes to complete and then accomplishing it, we get that little hit of dopamine that comes from feeling successful.  This turns into a habit.  After just a few short weeks of building this habit, bigger and more daunting tasks become less cumbersome and more achievable.

Seth Godin and Nike Logo

bonus: seek assistance where appropriate

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help


This could be as simple as a Google search, but it could certainly look like therapy or support groups.

Asking for help is extremely beneficial to our overall health.  We should, of course, make an honest effort to figure things out on our own.  Sometimes we need a gut check from our partner, or we need guidance through grief from a licensed professional.

Asking for help often falls into the ‘takes less than 2 minutes’ task avoidance previously mentioned.  We avoid asking for help the same way we avoid the laundry because it all feels too overwhelming.  Pair that with the embarrassment of acknowledgment that you actually need help, and you can run from help for years. 

Don’t do that. People care about you.  If you have tried to help yourself and it isn’t working out, find help.  Whether the help is with cleaning up the kitchen after a long day, putting something on the top shelf as a short person, or seeking out a professional on a given subject, just do it.


Developing and maintaining healthy habits is a gradual process that requires attention, intention, and self-awareness. There may be variations within these habits based on individual needs and circumstances.  They are still foundational practices that can benefit everyone. 


I hope that this 13-step weekly checklist gives you a practical guide to focus on the essential areas.  Monitoring your sleep, connection with others, hydration, nutrition, physical activity, and mindful moderation of vices is a huge benefit to your overall well-being. 


By incorporating these habits into our life and periodically testing the extremes to understand our own limits, we can cultivate a healthier lifestyle, enhance our well-being, and unlock our full potential. 


Remember, small, consistent steps taken toward a healthier lifestyle can lead to significant long-term benefits.

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