What do you consider the most important machine in your life — Car? Computer? Cell Phone? Television? Something Else? On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to you? Why? What are all of the reasons that make it a 10 in your life?
If you believe that the car belongs at the top of your list, how much time and money do you spend taking care of it? Do you use any old fuel, consider checkups a waste of time, ignore the car wash, etc.? You probably have your own special rules for whatever machine you chose.
Next question, do you treat and care for your own body with the same amount of effort? For instance:
What quality of fuel (food)do you give it? Do you give it an adequate supply of water? Do you skip the boring routines like annual checkups because there are other things you would rather do? Do you keep doing what you have always done (too many calories with no exercise) and expect to get different results? Do you expect the doctor to order some “magic” pill for you to take when you are ill — just as long as there is no change required in your regular activities? Do you avoid making any healthy new habits because the old way is so comfortable?
We cannot trade in our old body for a new one — life does not work that way. As Mickey Mantel once said: “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
There has been a change in attitude the last few years. It is rare to find magazine articles promoting the newest diet guaranteed to erase all the extra weight from holiday season indulgences or how to get ready for wearing that new bikini at the beach.
We now recognize that diets, especially crash diets, are no longer acceptable. Lifestyle plans are the newest buzzwords. Sometimes it sounds like just another variation on the one-size-fits-all idea. It is not that simple!
Oh sure, the same basic principles are necessary — more fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, legumes, nuts, lean protein, less sugar and fat, portion-size control, exercise, fitness and water instead of soft drinks. Unfortunately, not enough attention is given to the uniqueness of each person. We start with different bodies, jobs, family situations, personal and family history, likes and dislikes. Thank goodness, there is more than one way to get the desired results.
The biggest challenge is deciding how important we consider a healthy lifestyle and what we are willing to do to achieve it. Honesty is the first step. Whether we like or dislike what we see in the mirror, it was our own past choices that got us to this point. No one else can be blamed for force-feeding us with junk food or roping us to a chair in front of the television. And no one else can make the choices each day that lead toward better health in our future!
Start by deciding how you want to look and feel. All the things that make life rich and enjoyable — vigor, vitality, optimism, strength, lack of illness and disease — deserve top billing. It may seem trivial, but having deep, meaningful reasons is critical for your success.
You are the only person who can make lasting changes in your life. Recognize from the beginning that it will take time. After all, no one changes from being a star athlete to a flabby couch potato in one or two months — and it does not work any faster in reverse.
A sudden, drastic overhaul of everything in your life simply will not work! More can be accomplished by making small changes — one baby step at a time. Once the first changes become habits that feel comfortable you can be confident moving on to the next goals. Trust yourself and your ability to change. Soon enough, you will have concrete proof of progress.
Which makes more sense — losing 15 pounds in a month but gaining it back before the end of the year? Or, avoid feeling like some kind of a martyr, lose 4 to 6 pounds a month and keep it off for the rest of your life? Remember too, there is more than one way to exercise and find what you really, really like and enjoy doing.
Success lies in the united effort of mind, body and emotion. You may find that writing a personal journal reporting your before-and-after story is an excellent incentive to stay on track. Begin your book with photographs and the usual records of weight, measurements, health profile and physical fitness. It will feel good to add new data as you progress. Statistics are necessary, but probably more important is the diary part recording your feelings about the changing results.
What you experience along the way becomes as interesting as where you think you are going. Record the pleasure you find discovering a new flexibility when you stretch, the enjoyment in finding foods that taste as good as they are good for you, the freedom of living without those annoying aches and pains and, of course, the newfound energy that lasts throughout the day. Every so often, look backwards and savor the progress you have made going one step at a time!
We cannot turn our bodies in for shiny new models but we can feel and look younger than the calendar suggests. The important thing is to start taking care of our most precious machine — our own body. Picasso said this: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
Enjoy the journey to a healthy and happy lifestyle!