If I were to speak to a big group of people and ask them what they should do to improve their health, everyone would begin shouting out all kinds of answers. “Eat organic!” “Exercise more!” “Get adjusted more often!” “Get more sleep!” “Stop stressing so much!” We could likely sit there for hours coming up with all kinds of ideas, and we’d likely all be right.
So why don’t we do all of these healthy things?
We’re all at different places in our health journey… and really that’s okay. However, the faster we move further down the right path, the better our results. We don’t have unlimited amounts of time to make these changes, getting started and keeping things moving becomes more important with each passing day. I think we know this, but it’s still challenging to make changes that some people would consider “the basics.” Why?
Some of us were brought up in homes that ate almost exclusively fast food, while some had “home cooked” but not necessarily healthy options. Some families were always active, while others had single parents just trying to keep it together. Heading to the gym regularly would have just been too much, so it just didn’t happen. Our parents only got so far with the information they had to work with, and we all started at different places with regards to how we view our health.
Our past doesn’t need to dictate our future, but the habits we’ve built up over time will create different challenges. What’s easy for one person is a huge obstacle to overcome for another. While some people can’t imagine smoking, another family grew up in a household with generations of smokers. While one person knows all about nutrition, another person is still trying to figure out if they should be low-fat or low-carb. Should they walk, run, or do yoga? Is CrossFit the answer or should they do something less intense?
I think deep down we already know some things that we should be doing (or not doing).
We know that when another week passes and we haven’t exercised or done our stretches that we should be doing those things. We should be making progress towards better health, but we’re often stuck on what to do first or it just seems to require too much mental energy to get things rolling. Often, it takes a major health crisis to create the motivation for change and even that can be short lived.
In my last blog post, I discussed why you shouldn’t spend a lot of time beating yourself up about things like this because it just doesn’t help. Your health journey is a big reason why you can’t waste any more time lamenting your inability to change at the pace you would like. So many people miss a week of working out, feel bad, and then proceed to miss the next six months because of it. Or they have one bad meal and that leads to a weekend and then weeks of bad eating since it doesn’t seem to matter anyway.
Better health really is a journey
I didn’t work out for years (most of my adult life). Really I only have been consistent since I turned 40 – about 6 years ago. Why? Did I not think I should be doing that? Of course not. I just wasn’t having any fun, I wasn’t seeing results, and I enjoy crossing stuff off my list… permanently. Exercise isn’t like that. Turns out every thing that’s good for you isn’t like that.
The only thing that got me moving further down the path of being consistent with exercise was a total change in how I was viewing it. I turned 40, realized that this was a big number and that what I was doing now was going to determine what kind of 60 year old I was going to be. I see big differences between patients that are 40, but even bigger differences between those patients that are 60. It was such a big difference that I realized I had to get my act together if I was going to be the 60 year old that I wanted to be.
Better health requires consistency…
…and that’s where it becomes clear how far along the path we are. Drinking lots of water and no soda, that’s a step in the right direction. Are you getting adjusted on a consistent basis (weekly, monthly) — that’s another step towards better health. How often do you exercise? I mean, really exercise? Nothing wrong with being active, but when’s the last time you got your heart rate up or did movements to strengthen your muscles? When was the last time you were really sore from exercise? (You should be sore, it means you worked hard enough for your muscles to notice.)
There are people out there that will answer “yes, I do that” to almost all of these questions. They eat “clean,” they exercise consistently, get adjusted, meditate, get massages, stretch and get enough sleep. You know what? They avoid most health issues and the feel good most of the time. These things do work and the more good things they do versus the bad things does have a cumulative effect. It matters and it makes a difference.
Your consistent choices will determine how healthy you are. As much as I would like to convince myself that I exercise enough, eat good enough, and take care of myself — my results show how far along the path I’ve gone. And I’m not done yet and neither are you!
What’s the next step?
Write down a list of everything you’ve been thinking about regarding improving your health. Every restaurant you swore you’d never eat at again and every step you’ve been wanting to do to “get healthier.” Now pick your top 10. Narrow that list down to your top 3… now just pick one thing. What’s the one thing you can do to move further along the right path? What new habit will you cultivate that will become “just something you do”?
Which habit will make a big impact, will make you feel better, and let you know you’re making progress? Just pick that one thing and do it consistently until it’s just a part of your daily routine. Then pick the next one and on and on we go. Trying to do all ten will be overwhelming and the likelihood that you’ll stick with ten new things all at once probably won’t happen. Become a master at adding one more healthy habit and they’ll stack up. Good luck!