It is never easy to start and adhere to an exercise program. The reasons are many: lack of time, low self-esteem, guilt that you are stealing time to exercise, did I mention a lack of time, and the list goes on. I am not unaware or insensitive to these realistic roadblocks to living a healthy lifestyle; heck I have faced these same issues.
Roadblocks can be daunting and seem insurmountable. It’s bad enough that the obstacles above are hard to overcome, but the fact that our culture and society has not yet embraced the many benefits of living a healthy lifestyle makes it that much harder.
There is plenty of evidence that people who live healthy lifestyles stay healthy and become less likely to add to our insurance costs by reducing the onslaught of diabetes two, overweight complications, cardiopulmonary issues and the list goes on. But we cannot entirely blame society for not endorsing healthy lifestyles. Some of the blame lands right on our own shoulders. The inability to recognize that taking care of us and ours is a fundamental necessity for our well-being.
Here are some guidelines to achieving and continuing a healthy lifestyle:
1) Set reasonable goals: Gentle does it. Rome was not created in a day, and neither are we. Patience is the key. For example, if you have been leading a sedentary life and making bad lifestyle decisions, for any amount of time, allow yourself time to feel and see the differences. Consider yourself an investor in the stock market; you are the investment. Any improvement in your health is an investment that holds a great return for you.
2) Make it fun: Healthy lifestyle changes need not be daunting. Find something you like to do physically and embrace it. Make small changes to your diet and allow yourself to adapt to minor restrictions before moving forward.
3) Make physical activity part of your life: Get up and move. Walk, swim, bike, jog or any form of getting the heart rate up and the circulation pumping is beneficial. Do not confuse healthy lifestyle options to athletic endeavors such as road races, bike races, Spartan races and the like. If these events motivate you, great, but participating in an athletic event isn’t on the checklist to a healthy lifestyle.
Proper eating habits, canoeing, walking or hiking and good sleeping habits will do just fine.
4) Put it on paper: Make it real. Write down reasonable goals and times you can exercise. Place it on the refrigerator where it is visible. Again, be patient with these new changes. Allow behavioral patterns to take root first, then flourish.
5) I think the most successful way to attain and continue your fitness plan is to seek out and join others who share your pursuit of health. I know from experience how powerful this connection is. When I hear the alarm at 5:00 am I just want to roll over and fall back to sleep for another hour, but I know that my swim buddies will be there.
The connection that we have developed is not one carved out by competition but instead encouraging each other to continue to stay healthy and enjoy the emotional bond of kindred spirits. We splash around and laugh as we do it, much to the chagrin of our on-deck coach I must say. After these sessions, I am invigorated by the exercise and fulfilled by the human connection of friendship and encouragement.
As a side note, you don’t have to get up at five in the morning to do this. I feel I get a leg up on the day, and no one can take that away. This feeling is a little empowering considering that I carved out an hour for myself in a world that takes much of this away from us with daunting work and family responsibilities.
- Find the time that works for you.
- Develop fitness relationships to inspire and empower your journey.
- Demand that life gives you the time you need to be or get healthy.
- Know that a healthy lifestyle is a necessity for wellbeing and therefore a priority in our lives.
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Great article, Chad!