Sometimes it feels as if everything around us is dominating our attitude, our choices, our behaviors, our health. If you don’t take care of your own health, who will? Is your body appreciative of the care you’ve been providing? There is no better time than today to start taking better care of you.
We often think that caring for our bodies is simply eating well and exercising regularly. While eating well and moving more are foundational to good health, there is so much more involved! Our mindset, our sleep habits, our relationships, our environment all play a role in whether we are moving closer to optimal health or closer to sickness and disease.
Change is hard. Many of us have tried to change habits in the past. We often start excited and focused on our goal only to have life happen and set us back three days after we begin. Before we start to modify our habits, we must determine WHY that even matters to us. What is your health ‘WHY’? Have you considered the things your good health will allow you to be, do, and have? Regardless of age or current health status, our daily choices can help us in becoming the dominant force in our own lives. Consider writing down WHY getting or staying healthy is important to you. Is it to lower risk, gain confidence, be more active, care for kids or grandkids, or simply to enjoy each day to the fullest? When your ‘why’ is big enough, the ‘how’ becomes easier!
Sometimes it feels as though our lives are on autopilot and everything is happening to us, leaving us little or no ability to control what’s going on around us. As much as we cannot control the circumstances we may find ourselves in, we can control our response to them including our attitude and behaviors! There has never been a better time to control the controllables!
What we eat, how we move, when we sleep, who we spend time with, where we work and our emotions around all those things are controllables! Even when it feels as though life is out of our control – there are lots of things within our control! Emotional management may be the single most important habit when it comes to managing our health and becoming the dominant force in our lives!
What if instead of blaming others and creating excuses, we make the fundamental choice to take responsibility and be open, curious, willing to learn and grow, be accepting of feedback, thinking abundantly and being action based? What if we really did choose to control the controllables? How much more productive, confident, happy and willing to serve others would we be?
Let’s take a look at six key healthy habits and how we can control behaviors around them, leading to becoming the dominant force in our lives!
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is the foundation of optimal health and wellbeing. Just a 10% reduction in your weight lowers your risk of disease by over 50% and that risk continues to drop as you reduce your BMI below 25. Learning healthy habits around our weight is key to lifelong good health.
85% of diets fail. But what about the 15% that are successful? The National Weight Control Registry shows us common practices that helped people lose at least 65lbs and kept it off for at least five years. Those habits include eating breakfast, eating a balanced diet, paying close attention to dietary fat and calories, increasing physical activity and monitoring weight on a regular basis. Fueling every three hours, eating breakfast, making healthy food choices, eating low-glycemic foods, planning your meals, and drinking eight glasses of water a day all help with weight loss and maintenance.
Sixty percent of us get no regular physical activity. And 50% of us that do begin exercising quit within 6 months. Focusing on simple movement and activities you can do daily right now are the keys to creating more movement and sustainable fitness routines in the future. N.E.A.T. (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is a great place to start – those are all the movements your body makes outside of planned exercise. NEAT activities include stance, standing, strolling, stair climbing, samba and switch – doing things by hand instead of machine, i.e. washing dishes, shoveling snow, washing your car. Finding ways to incorporate standing while on the phone, doing squats while brushing your teeth or dancing while folding the laundry can do wonders for your healthy motion habit!
Sometimes we think sleep is the one healthy habit we can skimp on and still manage our lives well. Sleep is essential to restoring organ function, stabilizing chemical imbalance, refreshing areas of the brain that control mood and behavior and improving performance. The level of depression in those with sleep issues is 5 times greater than healthy sleepers. Simple habits around sleep can help us get the recommended 8 hours per night. As the day winds down, it’s good to decrease stimulation, eliminate cell phone use, minimize liquid intake, avoid exercise within 4 hours of bedtime, avoid alcohol, and resolve family issues – don’t let the sun go down on your anger! Creating healthy sleep routines will allow us to get better sleep helps manage our weight and moods and be more productive and alert throughout the day.
Long-term success with healthy behavior change depends on choosing the actions that support your health. This may include how you make choices, knowing your triggers and behavior patterns, and maintaining a sense of calm and resilience. As we become more self-aware, we will increase our ability to thrive, not just survive. By being mindful, we don’t have to rely strictly on willpower for motivation and behavior change.
Your people, your home, your workplace, and the things you surround yourself with enhance or diminish your health. As we take control of our personal environment, we start to create conditions that support long term health. Building a support system, whether it is a coach, a friend, a spouse or a group of co-workers, will help us create an environment of support. We all need to feel connected. Support systems are key in building healthy habits!
These 6 habits seem simple, and are common recommendations, yet most of us do not practice them. Knowledge isn’t enough! We need a strong reason why in order to make healthy choices. Spend some time considering WHY you want to be the dominant force in your life. We all have a choice –– let’s start today making one healthy choice at a time and move closer to the best version of ourselves.
Source: Dr. A’s Habits of Health, Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen