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In today’s world, we all know the basics of how to get fit: eat right, make good choices, and maintain balance. And if you don’t know the basics, then the resources for learning them are endless - Internet, magazines, TV shows, and all the "helpful" advice of friends, loved ones, and complete strangers.
Being healthy is even interwoven into our pop culture. “The Biggest Loser” has had 13 successful seasons of Americans watching other Americans suffer to take off hundreds of pounds in a short time to essentially save their lives.
Movies like “Super Size Me,” and shows like “Extreme Makeover: Weight-loss Edition,” emphasize how miserable it is to be unhealthy, but how it’s never too late to turn it around. These programs are widely viewed by the general population, so millions of people can see what having a good diet and consistent exercise will mean for your health and happiness.
So, then why do most people need a frightening health scare (and sometimes a large cash prize) to push them from knowing how to be healthy into actually practicing healthy habits?
Here are my thoughts:
Maybe the truth is that we do need to be frightened into taking better care of ourselves. Therefore, my goal today is to frighten you down the path to better health and fitness BEFORE a real health scare gets you there first.
Let’s start with this question: How fit, happy, healthy, and abulatory are you right now? Honestly.
Think about your answer, and then think about how you'll feel in 10 years... 20 years. Based on your current daily choices, how independent, happy, fit, and mobile do you think you will be 10 to 20 years from now?
Next question: How many years of your life do you want to live in pain or suffering, and potentially with the loss of your independence? (The right answer is zero)
Here is the scary truth. The choices we make and the habits that we put in place now will significantly affect how our bodies can function on the inside and the outside in our future. All the preventative actions you could have taken, but didn't, will come back to haunt you once the fatigue and pain of poor health sets in.
But there is some good news: You don’t have to rearrange your life or go to miserable extremes to achieve better health. You simply need to make 3 or 4 of the following things a priority everyday.
WATER: Have it handy. Know your style. Do you like refill bottles vs. plastic vs. glasses of water, etc…? Always have your favorite way to drink water available. Schedule a midday check-in to ask yourself how much water you have had to drink. You will notice an increase in your energy level and ability to concentrate on days that you are hydrated from the day before. (If you need help, follow me on Facebook or Twitter and I will ask you once a day how much water you’ve had).
GOOD EATING: You don’t have to go on a “diet," highly restrict yourself, or calculate each and every morsel of food. Have a loose plan for the day, stay conscious, and make good choices along the way. Sometimes, writing down what you eat will help you stay aware of what's gone into your body. For other people, making these choices with a healthy buddy holds them accountable.
FUN EXERCISE: (20-60 min) This one requires a little more committment. Many people think that there just isn't enough time in the day to be active, but believe me, there is (like that hour you spend in front of the computer checking for emails). Start with 20 minutes, 3 times week doing a little walking or a fun workout video. You can add in more work out time as you feel the need. If you're feeling overwhelmed, re-evaluate. Find a friend, commit to a class, or hold yourself accountable for sticking to a schedule.
RELAXING/STRETCHING: (5-20min) For some reason, people forget about stretching until they are in pain. Pick a time of day (morning or evening) and write yourself a note to stretch. It could be as simple as sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you and trying to touch your toes for a minute, or you could try out some yoga. Just once a day will make a dramatic difference in your life.
You are probably already working on at least one of these right now. Pick two more and make a plan for tomorrow. Write it down, find a friend, make sticky notes... do whatever it takes to follow through with your committment.
Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP on trying to get yourself into the habit of making these a part of your routine. Life is a process. The more you try with these aspects of better health, the sooner they will stick, and trust me, eventually they will! Once you get on a roll with better health, it feels so good that it no longer feels like effort to keep yourself going at it. I promise.
We can’t prevent aging and all health issues, but we can improve our overall quality of life if we just take a small amount of time and effort to drink water, make good eating choices, exercise, and stretch a little on a daily basis. You can do it! You owe it to yourself and your family. Don’t be that person that waits for a health catastrophe or needs a $250,000 cash prize to finally care enough to make some changes for the better.