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Kobe Bryant's 5 Healthy Habits

Ed note: This week, First Lady Michelle Obama is guest editing the iVillage website. She worked with the editors there to create a weeklong series of great articles and videos with advice for families looking to Rev Up their Back to School Routine and introduce healthy new habits for everyone in the household. On the site today, basketball star -- and father of two -- Kobe Bryant weighed in about healthy habits that help him perform at this peak: 

Today we’re focusing on smart ways to adopt healthy habits and we have some great advice from a guest writer -- basketball phenomenon and father Kobe Bryant. While I was in London leading the US Delegation to the Olympics, I had the thrill of seeing Kobe and Team USA play France, and I met with Kobe and the whole team after the game to say congratulations. As everyone knows, Kobe is an extraordinary athlete, and he has all kinds of great tips and insights on how to become healthier. Part physical and part mental, I hope his advice inspires you to make some changes you can stick with! - Michelle Obama 

Let me start by saying it is a great honor to be a part of this week’s living healthy conversation on iVillage. I've had the privilege of meeting the First Lady, the president and their two beautiful daughters, Sasha and Malia, on several occasions, and I am very excited to help with this initiative in any way that I can. Plus, having two daughters of my own has really elevated the significance of living healthy for me. Leading by example is always the best way for kids to learn.

First Lady Michelle Obama cheers on Kobe Bryant and Team USA  at the USA vs. France men's basketball game at Olympic Park during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, July 29, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

When it comes to healthy living there are certain habits that come naturally to me and others I've had to struggle with and that continue to be a challenge to this day. Sure I want to live healthy, but I've found that just keeping my eye on the healthy goal is not going to get me through a late night craving for sugar cookies! (My fave!). But I'm a competive person so instead, I look inward for a game of one on one. Sometimes I win (I dropped 16 lbs in preparation for the Olympics) and other times those darn sugar cookies kick my butt :-). For me, the trick is to focus on the next swing of the ax and not to focus on how many swings it will take to bring down that massive tree in front of you.

With that being said, I want to share with you my list of 5 healthy habits that have helped me over the years. Some are physical; others are mental and spiritual. Hope you find them useful and best of luck on your journey toward being healthy!

My 5 Healthy Habits

Exercise: We all know the significance of staying active. The hard part is finding the time to do it. The key here is to find a routine. I take my kids with me to the track sometimes and they enjoy running, walking or just laughing at my agony. LOL But carving out a set time so that your body gets used to it will help exercise find and keep a place in your schedule as well as help your body adapt to the soreness from your activity.

Nutrition: My Achilles heel! I only started really focusing on my nutrition a few years ago. I started experiencing low energy and was feeling bloated. Then it hit me: 'Kobe you’re not 25 anymore' (I once had pepperoni pizza before scoring 81 points). It was time to adjust, so the struggle began. Lots of veggies, fruits, fish and lean meats. Portions were small and I found myself craving a snack every two hours!! So I would dig through the pantry searching for anything to munch on to hold me over to the next healthy meal time. Recently I changed my outlook and it really helped. Instead of viewing my new way of eating as a diet, I looked at it as a way of life. Balance was the key. I didn't want to feel like I was punishing myself. Now, though it's still difficult, I enjoy the veggies much more knowing that if I have an occasional cookie I'm not a failure :-)

Help others: Sounds simple I know, but the amount of good energy and inspiration YOU feel when you help someone else achieve their goals is infectious. You will also be less stressed if you’re not constantly critiquing the person in the mirror. Looking beyond that mirror gives you a broader life context and puts whatever challenges you may be facing in perspective.

Decompress: We all have bad days. They happen. It's life. Instead of bringing that heavy energy to those around you it's important to decompress. Find a space where you can be alone and let your mind settle. Whether it's meditation, painting, piano or just reading a book, finding that space to simply listen to your mind and body is critical. It doesn’t have to be for a big chunk of time, but be sure you do it!

Don't forget to LIVE: I think too much sometimes and forget to simply enjoy the blessings around me. So I have to remind myself to see the beauty in life, look for the good in people, laugh and cry, be angry get frustrated, be happy and BE MYSELF. These are all important parts of the ups and downs of life. Live to learn. Learn to live!