A Mass General fitness expert says the basics of healthy living include vigorous workouts, watching your diet and getting adequate sleep.

In health and fitness, the big picture often gets blurred by minor details. With fitness information and marketing so widespread, it’s not surprising many people who exercise regularly or want to exercise regularly get bogged down in things like: What are the most effective exercises for sculpted shoulders? And the best foods to eat to reduce belly fat?

Practicing a few fundamental habits goes a long way to improving your health and well being.

This information overload and hyper-attention to particulars can create a situation in which people don’t do anything, unless they feel like they’re being perfect.

All of this is absolutely unnecessary.

My advice is: Don’t get stuck on subtleties. Focus on the basics of healthy living and worry about the fine points if and when it’s necessary. Practicing a few fundamental habits goes a long way to improving your health and well being.

The basics of healthy living are principles that lead to better health and fitness when followed consistently. They’re purposefully rudimentary because a solid foundation of good habits must precede tiny details. For example, worrying about which cardiovascular machine burns the most calories before establishing a consistent habit of exercising is putting the cart before the horse.

Here is my list of the basics of healthy living:

  • Don’t drink your calories. Choose non-caloric beverages like water.
  • Eat lots fruits and vegetables. Aim to include some every time you eat.
  • Avoid processed food in favor of whole food as much as possible.
  • Have some protein with each meal.
  • Make your workout an appointment in your schedule. Don’t cancel on yourself.
  • Workout vigorously whenever you can.
  • Move as much as your job allows during the day.
  • Get adequate sleep and take time to recover from hard workouts.

I realize my list may look like a lot to tackle all at once. That is completely understandable.

If you struggle making changes, pick one thing you are confident you can manage and practice it until you make it consistent. Once you’ve mastered one thing, move on to another.

Making changes takes time and determination. So don’t overload yourself by juggling too many at once. Master the basics of healthy living and reap the benefits of feeling and looking better!


Mike Bento is an advanced trainer at The Clubs at Charles River Park and Massachusetts General Hospital. He holds a master’s degree in human movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist.