Ever wonder why so many people struggle with becoming healthy and maintaining wellness? Is our American culture conducive to a sedentary lifestyle? Are there too many junk food temptations lurking around every corner? Do we simply lack willpower? Maybe so, or we may just be looking at this from the wrong perspective.
I always thought being healthy was only for certain people. You know “the type”–those select, magnificent few who have enough self-control to deprive themselves of delectable foods and punish their bodies through rigorous exercise and other torturous healthy habits. However, I recently began thinking about health from a different perspective–the why. Do I just want to be skinny? Happier? What is the difference between those that live a healthy lifestyle and those who don’t give it a second thought?
This “health revelation” all started when I recently got over a very bad upper respiratory infection, and it was no fun, to say the least. I couldn’t go to work for several days, my husband had to help with the kids and the house, and I had no desire to even get out of bed or do anything at all. It was then that I realized how often we take our health for granted. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to live my everyday life until I could not physically function in it. This got me thinking, why do we wait until our health has declined to where we can’t function like we used to before we decide to finally get healthy? As Jim Rohn once quoted, “Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live.”
Poor health is conducive to a poor quality of life. How do we expect to rise above poor life quality and not address this issue of health! Everything you do in this life stems back to the condition of your body. Poor health has the ability to rob you of your purpose; work, relationships, finances and your emotional well-being are just some of the many areas in life that are affected.
Until we realize how deeply embedded the issue of health in our lives, we will never find the motivation to rise out of our thoughtless habits that are destroying us.
There has been an influx of resources on health over the years, yet we are as unhealthy as ever! I could sit here and write about what we all know– eat more vegetables, hit the gym and reduce all the stress in your life, but the advice will only work if 1: You actually apply it and 2: You continue to do this for the rest of your life, which requires a great deal of willpower. As Dr. Darya Pino Rose says in her book, Foodist, “Like a muscle, willpower has limited capacity, and when exercised extensively it can become depleted.” In short, willpower can only take you so far, thus creating the health dilemma many of us, including myself, struggle with. So what do we do?
Before you can get healthy, you need to be motivated enough to initiate the changes it will take. To stay healthy, there has to be a purpose greater than the obstacles to maintain it, and it all starts in your mind–the why! Your mind may have fallen into a default mode of unhealthy habits over the years, but just like a computer, your thoughts can be reprogrammed. Change your focus and it will change your life. Health is much more than weight loss or stress management; it’s the very core of our physical presence here in this life that has the power to affect everything connected to it.
How do we get to the point where we actually care about our health? Well, for example, there was a time in my life that I hated cooking. One day, my husband and I happen to catch a show on the Food Network that we really enjoyed watching. Over time, we started seeing previews to other cooking shows, which subsequently we also started watching. Within a year, my husband and I were so into cooking that we thought we were the next Iron Chefs! We had begun buying advanced cooking tools and starting cooking more advanced, sophisticated recipes. There came a time where we slowly stopped watching these cooking shows, and eventually our desire to cook fizzled. In the same way, to desire health you need to set your mind on health—read web articles and books, watch programs on health, whatever format serves you, just expose yourself to it. The more you program good health in your mind, the greater your interest will be for it. Once health becomes a personal desire for you, the next steps become that much easier.
So how do you take these newfound desires to be healthy and make them practical? Establish healthy habits. A healthy lifestyle has to be a “doable” one in order to be sustainable. Keep it simple. Identify the root of the bad habits and replace them with healthier choices. Joyce Meyer says, “The more good habits you develop, the less you have to fight with the bad ones.” Don’t focus or trip yourself over stopping the bad habits–good habits will always overtake bad ones. Slowly incorporate healthy habits into your life that you can see yourself practicing daily.
I love food and I always will—I have simply conditioned myself to like healthier versions so that I can have a better life. I drink lots of water, not because the health magazine says to, but because I understand the benefits of drinking it and the consequences of not getting enough. As difficult as it was initially, I’ve learned to enjoy exercise. Feeling healthy, strong and in control becomes a driving factor to keep doing what it takes to stay that way. This is not just for the strong-willed but for those who know the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It begins at the mental level; eventually your actions will follow your way of thinking. Your reasons for being healthy have far more power than just a fleeting wish to “be skinny.” If you keep a handle on your thoughts, focus on why, it will keep you on the road to a lasting happy, healthier life!