With the holidays a matter of days away, most of us wait until January to make our resolutions for the coming year. But the truth is, every day–today–is a perfect time and opportunity for a fresh start at just about anything to improve our lives.
As I get older I find that it’s becoming harder and harder to motivate myself to do the same things that I used to even though I know what is good for me to do. For example, I’ve always been athletic and not only interested in exercise, but I use it as a mental escape and a way to relieve stress, and last but not least, to look good in my clothes and feel attractive.
I frequently counsel patients on the importance of staying active despite growing older, but I realize from personal experience that this is much easier said than done. One important realization that I’ve made, however, is that it’s not easy for anyone. Some people are just more motivated than others or they work harder to find their motivation to exercise and stay as healthy as possible. I heard a quote from a professional body builder who said that it’s never convenient for him to work out, but he made a commitment to himself to do it in order to reach his goals and be successful. One can extrapolate this mantra to any goal in life and it was somehow particularly soothing to hear someone else verbalize that it’s not easy for them to work out—even when that’s what they do for a living.
I remember my sister saying years ago, “Leslie, you take good care of yourself.” Ironically, my motivation for exercising and staying in shape had never included being healthier or taking care of myself, but as she recognized, that’s exactly what I was doing. I believe we should look at exercise in this way first and foremost because that’s what it does for us. Exercise keeps the heart healthy, lowers blood pressure, prevents and reduces depression, lowers stress and keeps us looking and feeling younger, to name a few benefits.
Another reason to exercise and get fit is to save money. It’s expensive to be unhealthy. Many people who don’t exercise or eat right have hypertension, diabetes, joint disease, chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety. I’ve heard too many patients worry about how they’re going to pay for their medications and because of the expense they don’t have money for enjoyable activities. Taking care of yourself is another way to gain control of your finances, health and your life. Let’s not be so complacent that we’d rather spend money on a pill for a preventable malady than work to keep ourselves healthy. We are responsible for our own health just as we are responsible for paying taxes and taking out the trash.
For many, getting healthier is a major change in a way of life. Therefore, it’s best to have patience and take it one step and one day at a time.The most important part of being and staying healthy is about what you eat. Start with a good meal plan and lose weight the healthy way. Losing w eight has a positive feedback effect of losing more weight because of having increased energy and that subsequently encourages increasing activity. Most fitness professionals will tell you that your diet is 75% of the work of being in shape. Decide now–today–to take the first step and start eating right. The rest will follow.