Health doesn’t happen overnight! How many of us have tried and failed at “getting healthy” with some new fad or even the tried-&-true methods? My experience in private practice as a nutritional consultant gave me insights into patterns of success; from my observations, I created the “Art of Health for Busy People”. The following four chronological steps toward health dovetail with the “Art of Health for Busy People”, but in some ways these steps are the starting point, especially for those who struggle with meeting their health goals.
- The Decision
In some ways, this is the most important step, the step you have to return to over and over again. I like to call this phase eye of the tiger, because it requires focus and intention — you have to decide that you want to move toward health. And this isn’t a one-and-done! To be successful, you must decide this for yourself repeatedly. You must become clear in your mind that health is important to you, that it is crucial for your well-being. Focus on this solely, as your first step: get clear you want this. Without clarity, without the deep understanding that you want health, it will be easy to fall back into old patterns.
This step is about getting your head in the game and, as we all know, it is so easy to become side-tracked by life, by tempting sweets or the ease of fast food. That is why focus and intention is so significant. Find tricks that will remind you that you want this thing, that you value health and that you are willing to do the work.
This step can take different lengths of time for different people! Some may be able to sit down with themselves, thinking: “Health is important to me. I prioritize health.” And they are able to move quickly forward with the next steps. Some may find that it will take time to change their thinking around health. That they will have to focus in on this for some time. Don’t worry about how long it takes you! Just focus on becoming clear in your mind that health is important to you, that it is something you want.
- Choosing Sleep
Step two is about proactively choosing sleep, good sleep. While part of this is focusing on getting more sleep, this may not necessarily have to do with increasing the time from when you get into bed to when your alarm clock goes off in the morning.
Getting good sleep is more complicated than just putting yourself to bed, exhausted at the end of every day. Sleep hygiene is a routine, a practice. Take the time to slow down in the evening prior to going to bed, setting routines that remind your body that it is time to go to sleep. Keep in mind that studies emphasize how disruptive it can be to our sleep cycles to use our devices in bed (phones, tablets, etc). Use this knowledge to make choices about your sleep routine, so you are proactively choosing good sleep.
- Choosing Food
It may be obvious for me to say “eat healthier foods” and I hate to be too obvious, but here it is: Eat Healthier Foods. The thing is, once you have the first two steps down, this step is so much easier! Your body will respond to the steps that you have made toward health and it will crave more nutrient dense foods. That said, this may require you to do a little digging on “what nutrient dense foods are” or “how to eat more healthily on a budget”. Keep reminding yourself that health is important to you, that it is something you want, even when it requires the extra work!
- Choosing Exercise
Similarly to the step above, exercise is the next obvious movement toward health! And similarly to the choice above, choosing exercise will be easier if you have been moving chronologically through the previous steps. It will also be easier if you find an exercise that doesn’t feel boring or frustrating for you. Running isn’t for everyone! Neither is dancing or yoga. But what doesn’t work for me, may work for you. Find a way to move your body for 30 minutes every day. The internet has a wealth of free videos that can guide you in yoga or in a dance routine. Find something that feels good to you! You’ll be more likely to continue to choose to do it if you are enjoying yourself.
These steps are practical movements toward better health, a routine to be repeated, day in and day out. There is healing in repetition!
I want to make a note for those who suffer from significant health challenges: I know that so many people struggle with health challenges that are not easily defeated by these steps. Getting your head in the game won’t kick diabetes, cancer, or any other significant health challenges. These steps, however, will help support you as you work with your physician or healthcare professional on a management plan for whatever you’re dealing with. Know that I empathize with the additional struggle of having health challenges; it has defined my life and brought me to where I am. I wish you health!