We all know that living healthy is what we should do, but, for most of us, it is just so hard to make it a long-term, lifestyle. So how do we do it? Why does it seem so easy for some people, while the great majority of Americans, just can’t seem to either get on-board or stay on-board with a way of living that benefits everyone?
First we need to look at what it means to be ‘healthy.’ It doesn’t mean being skinny. It doesn’t mean participating in the endless food fads, popular diets, newest workouts, or any other fleeting thing. It does mean making good decisions when it comes to eating, physical activity, and even things like going to the doctor or dentist. Being healthy can mean feeling good. Having energy. Not being sick! It is also a matter of caring for yourself, and your family, in a way that allows you to participate in life without suffering the ramifications of ‘bad’ health decisions that you make or made. Being healthy is both long term and short-term actions. Being healthy benefits the individual and the whole community.
People who are healthy are, in general, happier. It is a great burden to deal with the effects of things like illness, obesity, even being tired all the time. Community groups that consist of mostly healthy individuals are happier and able to focus their resources (time, money, problem solving, creativity) on things other than trying to care for the members of the group who are unhealthy. According to healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org, a function of the National League of Cities, which exists to help build healthier communities in the United States, “The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. Childhood obesity alone is responsible for $14 billion in direct medical costs.” Just think what we as a country could do with all that money!!
That should motivate our whole country to action!! We all know the facts, so its going to take more than that to motivate us to live consistently healthy lives. Considering the implications our own unhealthiness has on others should, however, help us move toward the goal of healthy living.
Knowing that the facts aren’t enough to keep us motivated, what is ENOUGH? The first step in getting and staying motivated has to be a realization that something does need to change. But where do you need to make changes. Identify where and why you need to be healthy. Do you need to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, get your teeth cleaned or get your annual checkup done? After you have identified where the changes need to be made, you need to decide what your goals are. In order to stay motivated realistic goals need to be set. Don’t set yourself up for failure, it is impossible to stay motivated in the face of impossible tasks and constant failure. If you want to lose weight, determine how much and how long it will take you to reach a healthy weight. For most people losing three pounds a week is a realistic and healthy goal. Wanting to look like a Victoria Secret model or Captain America is not very realistic. Expectations that are too lofty often lead people to lose motivation more quickly. If you want to start eating healthier you’ll have to work new healthy habits into shopping, cooking, and dining out. It is probably less attainable to decide one day that you are only going to eat vegan, organic foods. Set realistic goals!!
Another key to motivation is finding people to support you. There are people everywhere who are trying to live healthier. Find them and walk with them on your journey, you will motivate each other! Remember, though, that your life and how you get healthy are not the same as anyone else’s, so don’t compare your life to theirs! Using someone else as your benchmark for success is not going to give you sustained motivation.
Many people who are successful at living healthy use visual aides to keep them motivated. Hang the jeans you want to fit into on the outside of your closet, where you can always see them. Use a dry erase marker to right motivational phrases or your goals on your bathroom mirror. On your kitchen cabinets post your goal weight, or reminders of how you want to feel, to help guide how you eat.
Above all BE POSITIVE. Focus on what you have achieved, not matter how small it seems. Remember how you felt eating unhealthy food, and how you have a little more energy now. Tell yourself that you are worth the effort, and your family needs you to keep living healthy. Think of the things that living healthy will allow you to do. You can be more active, live more life, live a longer life, spend your future time and money on fun stuff! And, it may seem cheesy, but talk to yourself. If you ever watch highly successful athletes, you can see them getting themselves ready for the competition. They tell themselves they can do it, and beat their chests. Yell, cheer, jump around. This is a fight worth fighting, get excited and stay MOTIVATED!!