my healthy rules

I’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the new book by Bob Harper (of The Biggest Loser fame) called The Skinny Rules. I haven’t read the book, but thanks to a sneak preview on Amazon, I did get a look at his 20 rules for dropping weight. Obviously, since I haven’t read the book or implemented any of the ideology, I can’t really comment on it—although, admittedly, I’m intrigued after hearing quite a few people say they’ve dropped weight and had more energy on his plan. Maybe one day I’ll read it and try it out, but for now, I’ll remain comment-free.

Anyway, this post isn’t about Bob Harper’s book. But it is inspired by it.

When I was contemplating Mr. Harper’s rules, I started thinking about my own set of rules. Not skinny rules. But healthy rules. My rules, either conscious or not, that I try to follow on a daily basis to feel my best and be my best. I think we all have our own, unique set of healthy rules. Whether it’s intentional or not, we set goals for ourself in all areas of our life, including our health and fitness. Maybe you didn’t write it down. Maybe you didn’t tell anyone. Maybe you didn’t even acknowledge it, but you probably are trying to hit some goal today.

It got me thinking about all those things that are second-nature. The steps that I take that are the foundation of my healthy lifestyle. My simple, nonnegotiable principles to being healthy, to borrow Bob’s tagline. I thought it might be fun to list out my healthy rules and compare them with everyone else’s.  These are my daily principles for a healthy life, what are yours?

 1. Drink water all day long.

My giant, pink water bottle almost never leaves my side. I know a lot of folks will give specific amounts (“drink eight glasses!” “drink your weight in ounces!”) but I find that if I just sip on water all day long, I’m adequately hydrated. It’s become a habit now. I feel naked if I don’t have my big ass water bottle in my hand.

 2. Eat something green at every meal.

I’m not sure what it is about green plants that makes them so chock full of vitamins and minerals, but they are definitely nutritional rockstars. I try to pack them into every meal, every day.

3. Eat dessert everyday.

I know some folks think this isn’t a “healthy” rule, but to me, it is! Not only is it healthy for my mental state (c’mon, life is short, people!) but it is also healthy for my eating habits. By indulging a little everyday, I never feel deprived and never feel the need to overcorrect and binge on a whole pan of brownies. Sometimes it’s a small as a square of dark chocolate, other times it’s a slice of triple chocolate cake with cream cheese filling.

4. Sweat three times a week.

I’ll break down this rule a bit below, but my bare bones fitness rule is about just flat-out moving. I literally didn’t exercise more than walking from my fridge to my couch for years, and I never want to fall back into that. Just as long as I’m doing something that makes me sweat at least three times a week, I’m happy.

5. Lift heavy, lift often.

I was terrified of strength training for the longest time. Not only were the giant machines and weights intimidating, but I was for sure that I’d gain back all my weight if I focused on strength instead of spending hours doing cardio. The truth is: I feel my strongest, healthiest and fittest when I’m lifting heavy weights and lifting often. I am no longer a cardio-only kinda girl!

6. Have protein at every, single meal. And a lot of it.

Protein in my friend. It helps me recover more quickly from my heavy weight-lifting. It helps me feel full and satisfied with my meals and keeps my appetite in check for hours and hours. I wrote a whole post about the awesomeness of protein. Protein is good!

7. Keep the animal products to a minimum.

There are quite a few different sides to the whole eating animals debate. I fall staunchly in the middle. I consider myself a flexitarian, which basically means, I eat everything! But I do think that a lot of times, I use animal products (meats, cheeses, yogurt, etc.) to fill voids in my meals that should be filled up with nutrient-dense plant foods instead. Every day, I look at my meals and try to make sure I’m not filling up on cheese or chicken when I could be eating cucumbers or cauliflower.

8. Take my supplements.

I’m the first to tell you that I hate, hate, hate taking 12 pills a day. But I’m also the first to tell you that when I consistently take my supplements, I feel great! Is it actually changing something in my body? Who knows. It could just be the placebo effect, but either way, I feel the difference and that makes it worth it.

9. Get eight hours of sleep a night.

I’m one of those people who needs at least eight hours of sleep a night. Without it, I’m pretty much worthless the next day (and I’m really at my best at nine hours). It’s a definitely necessity in my life. Each evening, I figure out what time I need to wake up the next morning, count back eight hours and that is my required bed time. Nonnegotiable. Yes, that means my bed time is at 8:30 some nights.

10. Embrace the decaf.

I love coffee. I love the taste of it. I love the ritual of it. I love the romanticism of it. I don’t love how caffeine makes me feel. Just a few cups spread out over a few days, and I’ve got one nasty rebound headache. Going decaf a few years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my health and sticking to it is a daily decision.

What are your healthy rules?



  1. says

    My main healthy rule is M-F I try to stick to my grocery meal plans when alone. My apartment is situated literally steps from awesome takeout and bars. So I can’t come home and say, “I’m lazy, I should call the Thai place on the corner!” I only eat out M-F if I have company that wants to explore (which is not often during the week). This forces me to eat healthier and save money! :)

  2. says

    I totally agree with the dessert thing! I tried to cut them out and then binged for a week. I felt like crap! Oh, and I meant to tell you, when you mentioned using the little baggies for your supplements – we use these teeny-tiny Tupperware sets for ours. I think we got four with a set, and they weren’t expensive. The hubs takes a lot more than I do, and they all fit in the container. I got them from ordering from a party, but there are always online parties somewhere. And if someone else already mentioned this – forget I wrote it, haha!

  3. Ann says

    Hi Cassie! I actually follow the Paleo Lifestyle (95% of the time). I’m training for an Ironman with my husband, so we eat non-optimal foods immediately after our long workouts (3+ hour workouts). Paleo pretty much follows the above Skinny Rules. I’ve lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks and I feel great! I even felt strong on our 75-mile bike ride last weekend.

    Here are the basic rules I follow.
    1) No dairy – except for whey protein right after workouts. Plus, meals after long workouts to replace glycogen stores.
    2) No grains – same as above – only eat them in limited quantities immediately after long workouts.
    3) No legumes – they’re difficult to break down/digest. I stay away from them even after long workouts usually.
    4) No processed or fried foods. I don’t like the taste of them anyway.
    5) No refined sugars. I use dates, raw honey, maple syrup, raw sugar and coconut sugar to sweeten baked goods (Yes, you can make baked goods on Paleo and still lose weight!).
    6) Stick to fruits, veggies, lean meats, eggs, nuts and seeds.
    7) Workout 6 days per week for a total of 10+ hours.
    8) Sleep 8 hours (tough during Ironman training!)
    9) Enjoy the one rest day each week.
    10) Weigh myself daily. Keep on top of issues before they start.

    Good luck with everything! I’m a Hoosier-native myself, but live in Denver now. Boilermaker Alum. Love Indiana! Take care!

    • Cassie says

      I know almost nothing about the Paleo lifestyle, so it’s fascinating to hear what it in involves. Thanks for sharing! :)

      OH and good luck with your Ironman! You’re awesome. :)

  4. says

    I TOTALLY agree with you about the strength training. I feel in much better shape and much happier with my body when my focus is on pushing heavy weights. I love it so much.

    I disagree with Bob’s white potato rule. WTF Bob? It’s a whole vegetable, not a refined wheat or something. I don’t get why that would be bad.

    • Cassie says

      I was a little intrigued by that one, too. I know a lot of folks are harping on the “no carbs after lunch” and the “go to bed hungry” ones, but the potato one was what really stood out to me. I mean, I know it’s starchy, but it’s still a real, whole vegetable. Although, I haven’t read the book and I’m assuming he expounds on what he means for each rule, so maybe it isn’t as cut and dry as he makes it seem.

      Okay, I should really just read the dang book. 😛

  5. Helen says

    I have to agree with all of your healthy rules. They just are common sense to me. Ever since I got pregnant, I switched to decaf and have realized that for me, it wasn’t the caffeine I needed, just the routine of making the coffee in the morning and savoring it, so this has become a new rule. Unfortunately, I’m missing my kettlebells during pregnancy, but I can’t wait to get back into them post-baby.

    • Cassie says

      It is definitely the routine of coffee that I love so much. Sure, the buzz is nice when I’m really tired, but day-to-day? It’s the routine!

  6. says

    At dinner (because it’s your last chance of the day) or at a party (because you need to fill yourself up so there’s less room for crap), fill at least half the plate with vegetables.

    Also, dessert every day is non-negotiable!

  7. Caroline says

    I really appreciate this. I especially like your rule about dessert–not just because I LOOOVE it, but because folks need to remember that life is indeed very short. For me, just because I try to stay away from refined sugar, dark, dark (even 100%!) chocolate will do the trick. But of course, something like that incredible cake once in a while is necessary.

    Also, I am a huuuuge coffee drinker, and I know that there are some benefits to caffeine (or so I’ve heard), so why did you switch to decaf, and how have you felt that it’s helped you?

    • Cassie says

      I switched because caffeine is a migraine trigger for me. I went from 2-3 migraines a week to maybe one or two a month!

  8. Diana says

    I agree with you on lots of these Cassie! 8 hours is the magic number of sleep for me too. And when I drink water throughout the day I can really feel the difference. I liked Bob’s rule about eating apples and berries every day – I know they’ve got tons of nutrional positives and I love them both.

    Thank you for giving us your version of healthy rules. Its true that we all have our own set that we follow, whether we realize it or not.

  9. says

    What kind of supplements do you take? I’ve never really been into even vitamins but I’m reading more and more about how hard it is to get all our nutrition from food and thinking I might be persuaded to get on the bandwagon!

    (Sorry if this is a semi-dupe comment–my computer has been experiencing some internet hijinx all day!)

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