Spring is right around the corner! There is no better time to jump on the “get healthy” bandwagon. There are so many ways to take the initiative and make the choice to take control of your health. It all starts with you, though.
Many people associate “Getting healthy” with making time to exercise. While exercise is a very important step in getting healthy, the first stop should be your kitchen. Depending on your goals, your diet should adjust accordingly. However, any basic healthy diet includes rules to eliminate or limit things like sugary foods and drinks, refined grains like white bread, processed foods, and salt intake; while increasing your water consumption, foods high in fiber and protein, fruits, and vegetables.
An excellent way to help keep yourself on target for meeting your goals in the kitchen is meal preparation. Meal preparation, often called meal prep, is the process of creating healthy meals and snacks ahead of time to help you avoid the temptation to eat unhealthy. A good idea is to prepare meals for an entire week and create a calendar of each day’s meals and snacks. This also helps you keep track of your caloric intake and portion control.
The next big step is introducing regular physical activity into your routines. For someone who does not exercise regularly, any amount of physical activity could provide benefits. If you currently have a sedentary lifestyle or health issues, it is important to speak with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Others who find themselves with irregular exercise patterns, may only need to add some consistency to their regimens. Just like you would use for meal prep, setting up a schedule for your exercise times each week, is a great way to commit to a plan.
Many times, people have the intention to exercise, but struggle with where to start. With ready access to technology, a simple search on the internet can often point you in the right direction of a starter workout plan. Start small and work yourself up to more dedicated and intense exercise plans. Everyone is a beginner at some point. Even something as simple as setting time aside for a 15 minute walk each day can improve your health overall. One way to stay motivated is to exercise with a friend. Relying on the support of someone and having them, in turn, rely on you is a great way to push each other to stay focused.
Once you have the motivation to get healthy, what happens when that motivation runs out? What happens when your weekly meal prep and exercise plans become more of a chore? Unfortunately, that is when people have a tendency to lose their resolve. Excuses to skip a day of exercise or make “just one” poor meal choice occur more often, and we end up falling back into our old unhealthy routines. The only way to overcome this is discipline. The saying goes, “Discipline is doing what needs to be done, even when you don’t want to do it.”
Those who rely solely on motivation often fail, because motivation is fleeting. You will never always be motivated. However, discipline breeds habits. Just like any other habit, something that you’ve disciplined yourself into doing becomes a routine that is difficult to break. Most people have disciplined themselves into going to work, with the reward of getting paid. It is not an optional activity, you don’t allow yourself to make mild excuses not to go to work like “I’m tired” or “I’m just too busy today”. Give your body the same respect you give your job. Discipline yourself to take care of your body, with the reward of living a longer, healthier life.
The intent to get healthy is not enough. It is also important to have clear and concise goals. Your purpose for getting healthy. Whether your goal is to lose weight, overcome a health condition, or simply live a healthier lifestyle so you can live longer, it is important to set a realistic and attainable goal. Simply, “Lose 5 pounds in the next 2 weeks” or “Be able to lower my medication at my next visit with my Doctor”, whatever it may be. Then, WRITE IT DOWN!! Use that goal as fuel for your discipline and motivation. Once you reach that goal, don’t let that be the end. Set a new goal, never stop looking to improve your health and well being.
Eating better, exercising regularly, and staying focused are all excellent ways to put yourself on the right track to living a healthier lifestyle. Another important aspect is being well informed about your body. Having regular blood work done, knowing your blood pressure ranges, and making routine visits with your healthcare provider, are essential to staying healthy. It’s important to have annual well-check visits even if you are not feeling ill. Many times, conditions can be caught ahead of time and even prevented if detected early enough.
Someone once said, “Being healthy is hard. Being unhealthy is hard. You have to choose your hard.” It is very true, even for the most disciplined, being healthy can sometimes be difficult. Staying focused on your goals. Following through. Eating healthy. Keeping up with your exercise when you don’t feel like it. BUT.. Being unhealthy is even more difficult. It may not be difficult for you right now, but eventually an unhealthy lifestyle will catch up to you. And it could catch up with you too late. Consistent health problems. Weight control. Body image. It’s all about choosing. What choice do you make??