Health’s Hierarchy of Habits

Winners and losers have the same goals.

This phrase dominated my thoughts after my high school basketball team was eliminated in the state tournament. I was devastated; basketball meant everything to me then. I found out that the team that beat us went on to win it all.

I realized that most teams probably had this goal – but only one team won it every year. I resolved to work harder my senior year so we could be that lone team. Unfortunately, the same thing happened again; but this time to a different team.

If the goal is the same, what is the difference between winners and losers?

Atomic Habits

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, has a chapter dedicated to answer this question.

“We concentrate on the people who end up winning—the survivors—and mistakenly assume that ambitious goals led to their success while overlooking all of the people who had the same objective but didn’t succeed. Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal.”

I instantly began thinking back to my junior and senior years of basketball. This was exactly how I thought.

According to Clear, setting goals is good and necessary. But the difference between winners and losers are their habits.

“What habits do I need to develop in order to become a champion?” would’ve been a better way for me to approach my high school problem. This is long-term thinking. The development of habits ends up changing your entire identity.


What habits did Michael Jordan have that made him a 6-time NBA champion?

That was the question I needed to answer in high school. “Working harder” is too vague. Everyone can do that.

The reason this is important is because systems win. Focusing on results doesn’t get you results. Focusing on systems (habits), get you results.

Clear puts it this way. “The more evidence you have for a belief, the more strongly you will believe it.” For example:

If you go to church every Sunday for twenty years, you have evidence that you are religious.

If you study biology for one hour every night, you have evidence that you are studious.

If you go to the gym even when it’s snowing, you have evidence that you are committed to fitness.

If you want the identity of being “healthy,” you need to adopt the habits of healthy people.

Health’s Hierarchy of Habits

Based on our prescription of health at RxFIT, I created a hierarchy of habits necessary for long-term health. Healthy people have most, if not all, of these habits.

Most individuals I meet with during our No-Sweat Intros are unhealthy and unhappy with their current health situation. I’ve now seen the transformation to “healthy and happy” hundreds of times. Prescribing the following habits (in varying degrees), and giving them a coach to guide them along the way, always leads to health and happiness.

Let’s take a look at the hierarchy.

The pyramid in the middle includes the abbreviation of the “Five Factors of Health.” To the left of each step, I attached the main resource I have used time and time again to refine the habits. And then to the right of the pyramid, I have attached the habits in their most basic form.

Why This Order?

Each habit builds on the one above it. For example:

  • You and I can’t have a serious conversation about health without first talking about sleep. Sleep regulates all body systems. If you are sleep deprived, your eating, training, thinking, and connecting suffers dramatically. Conversely, with enough sleep you will have less sugar cravings, more desire to work out, think more positively about yourself, and be more pleasant around others.
  • Then, nutrition moves us to the molecular level. Eating healthy in the right quantities is absolutely the next step. Think for a moment about Thanksgiving lunch – do you want to workout after that meal? No way. Do you feel good about yourself? Nope. After you eat, you don’t even want to be around your own family! That’s why you pass out on the couch watching another football game…
  • Then exercise. The science behind sweating is powerful. You perform better cognitively after working out, and your relationships are stronger and deeper with others.
  • Mindset: You know that friend you have that whines, complains, and makes excuses about every little thing going on in their life? They’re a pain to be around. Your mindset directly affects which friends you allow in your social circle. Improving yourself must come before connection with others.
  • And then connection. Building, sustaining, and growing deep relationships doesn’t just allow you to live longer, but also a happier life. The research is clear that the stronger your social connections are, the happier you are as a human. It’s even a better predictor of longevity and fulfilment than health biomarkers like blood pressure and cholesterol. If we can master this final step, we add happiness on top of health.

It’s a fool’s errand, however, to think that developing the higher-up habits will be easier than the lower ones. Each habit below allows you to build on the habit above.


I’m excited to release this to you. I invite you to start implementing the sleep habits tonight. Send me an email in a few weeks and let me know your experience.

Just as winners and losers have the same goals, so do healthy and unhealthy individuals. The difference? Their Habits.

If you need a coach to guide you along the way, schedule your no-sweat intro here. The encouragement, planning, and accountability is worth every penny.



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