There are many ways to keep resolutions for a healthy lifestyle; putting a price tag on your failure (make a bet with someone and be ready to pay if you don’t stick to a plan), making small goals instead of focusing solely on the end results, and finding yourself an accountability partner who can help challenge you on the days you lose your motivation.
There are 7 habits that people who live healthy lifestyles all have in common. These habits involve self-mastery as well as mastery over our interactions with others and our perception of the world.
Habit 1: Pick your battles
We are all inundated with potentially stressful situations every day however there is a brief moment where we have the unique human ability to choose our response. Unfortunately, we have all been conditioned throughout our lives to react in certain ways to certain circumstances, and by reacting with conditioned responses, we give up our precious ability to choose the outcome.
For example, if someone is rude or inflammatory to us, our conditioned response would generally be to respond back, at the very least, with annoyance and sometimes even anger. Instead of giving in to this conditioned reaction, we can choose to not let it bother us, or even better, we can choose to understand and forgo the tension. If we can choose positive, or at the very least, neutral responses it has the power to bring us closer to our goals and increase the boundaries of what we can control. On the other hand, poorly chosen responses, or conditioned responses that are merely thoughtless reactions, will likely bring about negative consequences and shrink our scope of influence. This generally leads to feeling more out of control over your lot in life when, in reality, our responses often shape our perceptions and, indeed, even determine success or failure.
Take responsibility for your health
Poor health and disease are at an all time high and many of us assume this as a normal part of aging. Many people accept the burden of their poor health and the compromised quality of life that comes along with it as something that just “is” instead of something that can be controlled. They put themselves into the hands of doctors and pharmaceutical companies instead of taking an active role in their own self care. This is a prime, but unfortunate example of a conditioned reaction.
Instead of accepting poor health or chronic disease as your fate, be proactive by challenging the notion that you are a helpless victim and take responsibility for your health by carving out and living a healthier lifestyle.
Habit 2: Create and visualize your “end game”.
Get clear on what it is you really want. Take time to visualize what it is you really want to achieve whether it is balanced health, more money, to be more organized, or creating an entirely new life, allowing yourself to really be clear about exactly what you want in your life will help you create a plan to get there. Writing this end game down or creating a board in which you have cut out pictures of your ideal life (a vision board) will allow you to keep it fresh and clear in your mind.
Once you have your end game expressed you will be able to make smaller goals that ultimately will help you reach your desired result. Taking stock of your smaller achievements will show you how much further you have to go in making your goal. Also, having a clear understanding of your goals allows you to make smarter decisions that are more supportive of achieving them.
Begin with Your Health in Mind
The health you have as you grow older will be exactly the culmination of all of your health choices up to that point. If you wish to be physically active, mentally sharp and full of energy in your old age, the decisions you make today and every day after should be heavily influenced by this desired result.
Poor health and disease did not happen overnight. While you may not feel as if your health is compromised, your daily habits may still be promoting disease through chronic inflammation and acid forming diet, and if they are, they will eventually catch up with you. It can be extremely difficult but luckily never impossible to reverse the damage caused by unhealthy habits which is why the lifestyle you choose today should be lived with the best possible health choices to positively affect your health in your golden years.
Habit 3: Get your priorities straight
There are only 24 hours in a single day and if you don’t manage your time wisely, many of the things you hope to accomplish will never get done. Mastering the first two habits will teach you to commit yourself to action and getting clear on your desired end result but you must then have a clear understanding and the discipline to match in order to prioritize the actions that will help you achieve your goals. Without this, you’ll end up wasting time on frivolous activities and your goals will become much harder to achieve. Luckily, by taking small steps to increase your productivity (setting timers for tasks, uninstalling “Angry Birds”, and creating a definitive schedule for Facebook, Twitter and other social networks), you will find it gets easier to stick with priorities that really matter.
Make your health your number one priority
Certain aspects of living a healthy lifestyle are often thought of as restrictive, time consuming, or just plain difficult. If you attempt to follow a lifestyle that is too restrictive and complicated, you will certainly become burned out and frustrated,and will more than likely return to your old unhealthy habits sooner than later. This is not inevitable, however and full preventable if you invest your time and effort wisely by focusing on adding in healthier activities and nutrition instead of on taking away the negative aspects of your routines. Slowly, the good will crowd out the bad.
For example, let’s say you hate the gym. You decide to embark on a healthy lifestyle so you sign up for a gym membership. You go and buy trainers, clothing, all the bells and whistles of what going to the gym entails. You even go for a week, two, maybe even a few months. Slowly you remember that you do not like running on a treadmill, can’t stand waiting in line for the weight machines or jockeying for a position in Zumba class. You cut back your time at the gym, at first by 10 minutes then by a day until one day you realize you have stopped going. What you really do like is to be outside. Instead of going to the gym, make time to take a 20 minute walk outside after or during lunch or after dinner and pick a place to walk that you love. If you like shopping, going window shopping is a great way to get your exercise and figure out what you’ll buy when you lose those 5 pounds. You work at a desk all day so why not create a standing work station or bring a pedal bike for under your desk. Building in 5 minute stretch breaks for every 20 minutes of work, reaching down and touching your toes while picking up the kids clothes off the floor, parking your car further away from the entrance from the mall or taking the stairs those three flights up to your apartment instead of the lift are fantastic ways to build in exercise and not have to step foot in a gym.
With food, instead of going cold turkey on all your favorite foods, perhaps you choose to add in a green smoothie or juice, use spinach instead of romaine lettuce in your wraps. You try one new vegetable or fruit a week. You commit to one meatless meal in a week. Then, you start to notice that you are getting more satisfied including foods that you don’t have as much room as you normally would for junk food. There are many ways to make eating healthy delicious so you never feel deprived. Being healthy does not have to be painful.
Habit 4: Cultivate a win/win scenario
We all naturally use personal gain as a strong motivation in life. Because of this fact most problems or challenges that affects others is best resolved through a solution that benefits everyone involved.
Many people only care about “what’s in it for them” and pay little attention to the effects that their decisions have on others. These people are limiting themselves, often without realizing, because it is far more difficult to achieve goals without the help and support of others. In some cases, even impossible. Eventually, in time, even these people realize they need help from those around them, but because they have a tendency to be self-centered and imposing, they are unlikely to get it.
Look for a win/win with your health
With the many distracting and negative influences of our society, it often requires a lot of discipline and motivation to achieve and maintain good health. Having the support of the people around you makes it significantly easier. In the same regard, if you allow your healthy lifestyle to impose on the lives of others, you might find they resist your healthy lifestyle changes or risk alienating them which makes your pursuit of a healthy lifestyle more difficult.
Your family members tend to be your most important relationships and have the most significant potential for providing support and it is important to have them on your side. Better health is an obvious win for yourself, but your effort to achieve it may be a source of contention among your family members. However, if you handle the situation intelligently, your ambition for better health has the potential to be a big win for your family as well.
Habit 5: Understand to be understood
Stubbornness and an unwillingness to at least acknowledge another person’s viewpoint is the number one reason many relationships erode.
When someone opposes an opinion that you hold strongly, it’s often a natural reaction to push your opinion harder. This is often met with further opposition and can cause a downward spiral that leads to an ugly argument or even a damaged relationship. The only way to avoid this situation and turn it into a productive conversation is to make an emphatic effort to understand the opposing point of view before arguing against it. In many cases, you’ll either find that the opposition was based on a misunderstanding, or you’ll learn something new.
Seeking First to Understand Better Health
In pursuit of better health, it is a virtual certainty you will come across many varied differing viewpoints and suggestions, even from doctors and health care professionals. Many opinions will be diametrically opposed to each other. The profit based motivations of big business tend to make these different viewpoints even worse, often fostering more confusion with every new diet book published. Health related opinions tend to be debated with great passion, and as such, it greatly increases the need for effective and considerate communication.
Habit 6: Harmonize to synergize
Synergy is often a result of the previous two habits. When all parties are focused on finding a solution that will benefit everyone, and when each varied opinion is taken into account, the result is usually a series of creative possibilities and opportunities that would have never been conceived independently.
Creating synergy in your health
The human body is a complex organism and there are still many questions still unanswered by modern medicine. Many health conditions, as a result, may seem impossible to resolve. A one sided approach to resolving any health condition is never as effective as the treating the condition with a synergistic approach. By listening to all the angles given by the varied opinions of health care professionals, doctors, even family and friends we often open the door to new ideas and opportunities for improving or, indeed, even renewing our well being.
Habit 7: Stay sharp, focused, and maintain balance
Being effective is being able to make intentional progress towards an established objective. The previous six habits provide the tools you need to promote balance and development within the physical, spiritual, mental and social aspects of your life, and in turn, become a more complete and effective person. Staying sharp and focused is about continuing your growth by maintaining this balance.
Keeping our bodies healthy is key in our ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Being spiritually at ease by having a firm grasp on our values and inspirations allows us to guide our lives in the direction of what we wish to experience. Staying mentally sharp and expanding our knowledge increases our ability to understand and recognize our spirituality and to keep our lives on track with the direction it provides. Finally, social interaction is one of the most satisfying aspects of life and gives us a feeling of belonging, provides fulfillment, and in turn, promotes better health.