“I want to be healthy” these words have been expressed many, many, many times by my patients. What do those words truly mean? The Merriam-Webster definition of healthy is: having good health; not sick or injured. Many of us are not sick or injured, so why do we not feel healthy?
Answer: We have ideas and images of what “healthy” looks like, these images are fuel by images in magazines, television and infomercials. On a daily bases we hear… lose 20 pounds, walk every day, stop eating fast food, cook dinner every night, go to gym, quit smoking, eat breakfast, pack a lunch every day, buy organic, and the list goes on and on and on. In reality, the promoted visions of healthy bodies are realistically out of reach for many of us. Seriously, do you think you can be or want to be a size 0?
The daily realities of many families today are: balancing work and family life, driving the kids to school and athletic functions, endless errands, house chores, job priorities, longer and longer work days, after hour work meetings and for increasing number of us, taking care of our aging parent(s). The “I want to be healthy” doesn’t make onto our list and we start with the negative self-talk about not being healthy. The negative self-talk makes us feel unhealthy, disappointed and a failure. As you can see, being healthy is not just a physical state, it is an emotional state as well.
Many of us want to be well, to feel strong, and to feel that our body is working well, but we feel unprepared and overwhelm to begin the process of being healthy. Healthy is a life practice and requires patience, discipline, focus, and realistic goals. Start the process with one small step at a time. Make one healthy choice today, and stick with it all week.
Here’s a few suggestions to help start moving you towards your healthier life. Pick one of these suggestions and do it for a week, then add another suggestion next week and repeat.
- Try not to eat dinner after 6pm.
- Drink more water.
- Walk 10 minutes in early morning, before you start your day.
- Stretch ever morning for 5 minutes before you start your day or before you go walking.
- Pack a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack for your work day.
- Take your lunch break at work; no more “working lunches”.
- Drink alcohol only on the weekend.
- Go to bed the same time every night and get up the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Laugh and smile as often as possible.
- Change “I can’t” to “I can”.
The decision to be healthier is a personal one, it is our desire to be the best version of ourselves as we can be. The above suggestions are small steps to help you move towards your ultimate goal. The ultimate goal could be simply as to feel healthy overall or could be healthy enough to run a half-marathon. By starting small and building discipline around little successes, we can build momentum towards our ultimate goal of “I want to be healthy.”