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The Single Most Important Habit You Need for Better Health

The Single Most Important Habit You Need for Better Health

Woman Chopping Parsley

Have you ever tried something new for your health because you heard it was good––like buying cereal with extra fiber and calcium––but didn’t notice any real difference in how you look or feel?

You *hope* it is helping you be healthier and strengthening your bones, but you don’t have any way to know if it’s actually doing anything.

Most new habits people try fit into this category. They’re low impact and you get very little or no immediate feedback on how it will impact your life in the long run.

There’s no immediate benefit and, when it comes down to it, you have no good reason to keep doing it.

There are many problems with habits like these. One big one is that with no feedback you don’t know if what you’re doing is helping, hurting or just plain pointless. You have to act on faith that nutrition science (or wherever your advice came from) is steering you in the right direction––not something I’d recommend.

But an even bigger problem is that habits without an immediate and meaningful reward are the first to slip when life gets the better of you.

Would you rearrange your day to make sure you can do something that may or may not be important to you at some unspecified future time? I know I wouldn’t.

This is why I’m always encouraging you to focus on HIGH IMPACT Home Court Habits.

By definition, these are the habits that have the potential to improve your health and quality of life dramatically. The benefits are large, easy to notice, and appear relatively quickly.

When habits like this affect a major part of your life, like health, they often start to impact other habits in that category. It’s no accident that CrossFit fans tend to start eating better once they begin to notice how food impacts their athletic performance.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg refers to these as keystone habits. They “start a process that, over time, changes everything.”

As someone who spent 15 years of my life trying to lose weight, I’ve tried virtually every health and weight loss strategy at some time or another. I’ve counted calories, cut carbs, eliminated fat, and banned sugar. I’ve done years of ballet, stair climbing, distance running, exercise videos and weight training.

Most of these failed. A few worked OK, but made me miserable. And I’ve now settled on the handful of simple Home Court Habits that work best for me at this time in my life.

But of all the things I’ve ever tried there is one habit I’ve developed that stands out above them all. A habit that has improved my health and quality of life in ways I would never have imagined.

That habit is cooking.

Cooking revolutionized my relationship with food and my body. When I learned to cook I finally had the ability to make healthy ingredients taste good. Delicious even.

When I learned to cook I discovered that my body responded differently than it did to the processed foods I’d been eating. That I could eat until I was satisfied, yet still feel energetic while my body settled at a lower weight.

Gone were the days of hunger and longing for more.

Cooking led me to discover the farmers market, which is now one of my favorite places in the world. I made friends with farmers and discovered new favorite foods.

When I cooked beets for my dad he discovered he loved them after 60 years of believing otherwise. Ultimately, this change of heart saved his life.

The truth is I can’t even count all the ways my cooking habit has benefited me. From wooing my husband in the early days of our relationship, to the friendships I’ve built in the food industry.

I probably wouldn’t have started Summer Tomato had I not learned to cook.

Cooking is a game changer. That’s all there is to it.

For years I’ve been explaining this to people, and for years I’ve heard excuses about why people don’t cook.

“I don’t know how.”

“I don’t have time.”

“I hate cleaning up.”

“I’m terrible at cooking.”

What struck me was that these were all the same excuses I used to make before I learned how to cook.

I know how much these feel like the real reasons cooking seems impossible, but I also know that for anyone who does cook these issues have been solved. Cooks have a system that makes preparing meals easier and less of a burden.

So I decided to dig deeper. I conducted surveys, interviewed people and went to people’s homes to see their kitchens, trying to discover the truth about why so many people have failed at building a cooking habit.

Time, knowledge and organization are all part of it, but the root of the problem was actually really surprising.

Tomorrow I’ll explain the true barrier that stops people from cooking regularly and how successful cooks get around it.

Think about all the people you know who cook regularly. What do they have in common? What’s different in their process than in your process? I’ll tell you more about what I learned tomorrow.

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