How To Stay Healthy: The Way Out Of Self Sabotage
Every morning my alarm clock rings and I don’t really feel like getting out of bed.
Every morning I get up anyway.
Every morning I go down to the basement and sit on my treadmill. (Yes, I said sit!)
Every morning I sit there and scroll my phone for a few minutes and think about how I don’t really feel like getting up and running. How I would really rather crawl back in bed.
Every morning I sit there until my phone gives me the last chance warning. Last chance to get this run done before I need to be upstairs cooking breakfast for the kids.
And every morning I take that last chance. I stand up on the treadmill, put on my headphones to get into a rhythm, and I run.
Some people would credit willpower. You gotta have willpower to do this every morning without fail.
But I think it’s more like a weakness. A low tolerance for feeling bad.
Because if I didn’t get on that treadmill and run, I would almost certainly be facing a day of feeling like a crap.
The treadmill gives me a chance to kill the anxiety that has already been building in the pit of my stomach since 4am.
The treadmill gives me a chance to rid my body of the tension and toxins that would almost certainly lead to a headache later in the day.
The treadmill gives me a chance to eat my meals that day without my blood sugars going all out of whack.
So no, I’m not pushing myself onto that treadmill. I’m not using willpower, which is defined as “the strong determination to do something difficult.” I’m pulled onto the treadmill. By the promise of a better day. By the promise of feeling better.
Doing the run and feeling better is the easier option than not doing it and feeling like shit.
So no, I don’t have any more willpower than the next person.
But what I do have is experience. I have experienced a life where I was stressed and sleep deprived, too busy to exercise or cook healthy meals. And that life didn’t feel good. I was constantly exhausted, borderline diabetic, and suffering from all-too-frequent headaches.
I have also experienced the opposite. I have experienced a life where I made an effort to reduce my stress levels, to sleep enough, to exercise, and to eat healthy. And that life feels good. So good that I don’t ever want to give it up.
It’s easy for me now to make healthy choices, because I have actually experienced the benefits. Because at some point, I managed to lead a healthy lifestyle long enough to see for myself how much better it feels.
And yes, when you first start making healthy choices, it’s hard. Change is hard. Shedding your old routines is hard. And yes, it takes willpower to get through that hard.
That’s why most people don’t stick to it. That’s why most people give up. They try it and it’s hard and they think it’s always going to be hard.
But you don’t have to give up. Because now you know the secret: it’s only hard at first, but then it gets ridiculously easy. It gets easy, because you feel so much better you don’t ever want to give it up again.
It’s easier to be stress-free than it is to be chronically stressed.
It’s easier to be full of energy than to be chronically sleep deprived.
It’s easier to be a healthy weight than to be obese.
It’s easier to be in the best shape you can be than to be out of shape.
It’s easier to feel strong in your body than it is to feel like it’s going to give out and fail you at any moment.
So here’s my challenge to you: just experience it for yourself.
Below are the three steps I have taken to make it easy to choose health over and over again.
How To Stay Healthy
1. Change Your Mindset: Staying Healthy Is Not About Depriving Yourself – It’s About Giving Your Body What It Needs
All too often “being healthy” is associated with depriving yourself. Depriving yourself of food that tastes good. Depriving yourself of alcohol, caffeine, late-night TV…
But I think being healthy is more about giving your body what it needs. Giving your body what it needs for optimal health. Your body needs rest, nutrition, and movement.
Make that your focus – and not what you might be missing out on. Start thinking in terms of what does your body need more of, what does your body have to gain.
When you give your body what it needs, it will reward you 10-fold with energy, strength, and self confidence.
2. Implement One Healthy Lifestyle Change At A Time And Experience It Long Enough To Notice The Difference
In my life, I have found that the way to make long-lasting changes is by taking on manageable tasks. Whenever I have tried to overhaul my entire life at once, I have just ended up overwhelmed and frustrated.
So my advice to you is to focus on one goal at a time. But muster up the willpower to stick to that goal long enough to experience the benefits. I have listed four goals below and links to related articles below each goal.
1. Get at least eight hours of sleep every single night for one week.
2. Work on reducing stress for one month.
3. Exercise at least every other day for one month.
4. Eat only healthy foods for one month.
3. There Are No Failures – Just Reminders
Even if you stick to a healthy lifestyle long enough to reap the benefits, the time will come when you stray. At least that’s the case with me! 😉 Sometimes intentionally, because that piece of chocolate is just too decadent to pass up. And sometimes because the stresses of life will creep up on you and you get tired and overwhelmed.
But here’s the difference. Instead of falling off the wagon for good, you will get right back in it. Because whatever unhealthy choice you made will remind you of how bad unhealthy choices can make you feel.
When you say yes to that sugary dessert, you’ll be reminded of why you don’t eat like that all the time. When you stay up too long on a random Wednesday, you’ll be reminded of why you usually make the effort to get eight hours of sleep. When you schedule too much activity for one day, you’ll be reminded of why you keep your typical routine so much more manageable.
Because you have experienced how good it’s possible to feel in your body, you will want that feeling back.
The promise of feeling good will pull you back.
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