Like most people last year, you probably made resolutions. You started with the best of intentions, you wanted to be healthier, lose weight, be happier, but by March you had probably slipped back into your old habits. So what happened?
Like so many, you like became the victim of your routine, the rut that you’ve carved for yourself that you just can’t seem to climb out of. They say that there is comfort in a rut because the route is predictable and you can feel both sides. Albert Einstein, however, argues otherwise, noting “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So is this the year you are going to do something different? Are you going to break out of your rut into something new?
Frankly, cemeteries and hospitals are full of people who were “too busy” or “not interested” in changing. Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? Because of the inability to adapt. While you may live the illusion that your life is stationary, in fact it’s changing all the time. You are not the same person now that you were last year, last month, or even last week. The box that you’ve created for yourself is just an illusion of stability.
So, what’s holding you back? Why are you so afraid of change?
1. Time – Lack of time is an illusion. While many people may claim to not have enough time to modify their lifestyle, in reality it is more of an issue of not setting aside time to change the lifestyle that seems to control them. In other words, you must control your life, not the other way around. While, at times, it may seem that you life is always out of control, this too is an illusion. Ultimately, your lifestyle is determined by the decisions you make and your priorities. For example, many patients in our office claim they are too busy to exercise or don’t have time to get adjusted. The truth of the matter is, however, these things are just not a priority. Going to happy hour with their friends or watching their favorite show or having time to relax is just more important. Does that make it wrong? No! It just means that exercise and health are not a priority.
You have the same amount of time as everyone else. Why is it, then, that it seems like other people are so productive or can get so much done in a day. The answer is time management and priorities. Maybe, for them, exercise is more important. Or, maybe they have become more adept at managing their time. Either way, they are in full control of their time and its effects. Be it for better or worse, so are you.
2. Money – One of the biggest misunderstandings about health is that being healthy is expensive. Sure, having a personal trainer and buying all organic foods can have quite a price tag, but you might be surprised at how inexpensive health is. You don’t need a trainer or fancy gym membership. You don’t have to eat unusual foods that you can’t pronounce, but you do have to eat food.
Back in the day, there were no gyms or gym membership. People got their exercise by living life. Admittedly nowadays, people are more sedentary than ever. With more service professions, televisions, computers, and telephones, we are becoming more inactive with each year.
The good news is that the outdoors are still there. You can still go for walks or ride a bike. Can’t afford weights? Make a “poor-man’s weight set” out of some old milk cartons (a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds). Or, use cans of food. Gravity is also a form of resistance. Calisthenics, such as jumping jacks and push ups rely on gravity as a resistive force. Both are also free.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, fruits and vegetables are a lot cheaper than processed versions of the same and are definitely better than the frozen preserved foods on grocery store shelves. Now, certified organic foods will cost more than other foods in the supermarket, but there are many inexpensive natural ways that you can research online to remove many of the chemicals used to treat our food.
When it comes down to it in the end, being healthy is a lot cheaper than being sick.
3. Ability – I’ve heard every excuse in the book about why a person can’t make the lifestyle changes necessary to change their life. Having worked with thousands of patients over the years, one truth consistently proves itself over and over again. The only person standing in your way is you.
So many people suffer from pain or some form of disability that they feel prevents them from exercising. In all my years working with the public, I don’t think I’ve ever run across a patient that can’t exercise and I’ve never seen a person that can’t make better choices. You need to get control if yourself. You need to take charge of the decisions that you make or live with the consequences of the your bad decisions.
Can’t exercise? Baloney! You just need to find an exercise that you can do. If you can’t run,walk. If you can’t walk, bike. If you can’t bike find a pool, or do seated exercises, or even exercises in bed. You have to move. It’s what your body is built to do.
4. Drive – I can honestly say that you are probably no different than everyone else. Most people don’t like to exercise. There’s a reason that only about 25% of people have a regular exercise regimen. There is also a reason that only about 2% of people are actually consistent with their exercise routine. You are not alone. That being said, there is a significant statistical difference in health between people who exercise and eat well versus those who don’t. Simply put, people who exercise and make better choices tend to live longer and better.
You control your destiny and illness is not an accident. The choices you make now good or bad will have a significant impact on your health later in life. In this era of instant gratification, it’s sometimes difficult to see the end of the game while you are still playing, but you have to think of health as an investment. Small deposits now can yield a much larger return later. While your friends are falling to illness and infirmity, you are still chugging right along because you chose, even though you hated every minute of it, to make an investment in your health. Is that enough drive for you?
5. Fear – What have you got to lose? Weight, inches, risk for disease? Or, are you more concerned about time, money, and change? Many people are so afraid of losing their quality of life now that they give no thought to the quality of life they will lose later unless they change now. Is fear of change holding you back? They say that the one constant in the universe is change. Every day you are getting older. Every day you have new stresses, new challenges, new opportunities. How can you hope to stay healthy in a changing world if you are too afraid to adapt.
Are you afraid of failing? Thomas Edison once said about inventing the light bulb, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Life is about failure. Growth comes from failure. You learn from failure and can look at it as either in the way or on the way. The choice is yours. How much potential for growth and change is your fear costing you? Great things come from great changes. You just need to find it within yourself to make the changes necessary, even if you may not like them or they may make you uncomfortable. I would think that the greatest fear would be knowing that you can become healthier but not doing enough to realize the possibility.
Get out of your own way. Ultimately, health is a choice. First, you have to decide to be healthy. Then you have to formulate a plan. As they say, no plan is a plan to fail. You can’t build a house or win a war without a plan. You need a plan. So, here are some recommendations to help you realize health success:
1. Begin with the end in mind – You need a goal or goals. Be realistic with them. Rome wasn’t built in a day and losing 10lbs. a week just isn’t realist or even healthy. The more realistic your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them, which fuels additional drive for success.
2. Create a plan – Your plan should include your goals and a step by step approach to achieve them.
3. Do your own research – You’d be surprised how many of people you may trust with your health and health decisions may not be giving you health advice but, rather, disease management advice. You may also be surprised that some of the “health” advice you are getting may actually be unhealthy and just downright wrong.
4. Don’t be afraid to try new things – Often, you’ll find a solution in the least likely of places.
5. Find an exercise that you love – The number one person to sabotage your exercise is you and the most successful exercise you will ever do is the one you will actually do consistently. Working out should not be a punishment. It should be fun. If you resent working out, you have not found the right workout for you. It’s out there. Keep looking until you find it.
6. Don’t make too many changes to fast – Improving your health is about lifestyle change. That being said, too much rapid change becomes a punishment, and no one likes to be punished. Make smaller changes over time. Begin by adding things (reward) rather than taking things away (punishment).
7. Don’t feel like you have to live in a bubble (punishment) – Even a dietician cheats from time to time. Even a personal trainer skips a few days working out. The difference between a healthy person and an unhealthy person is about consistency. Are you consistently eating cake or carrots? Are you consistently exercising regularly or have you taken the past few months off? You can still enjoy life. Just be more moderate with your indulgences.
8. Be consistent – Consistency breeds results. So-so habits, so-so results. Excellent habits, excellent results. Don’t ever give up. Being healthy is a journey, not a destination, that requires time, consistent work, and patience.
You can be healthy this year, if you put yourself to it. If you require additional assistance in being well, do your research and find a health partner you trust to guide you back on to the road to health. The path to wellness changes very little. You just have to decide to get back on the path. Be well.