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It’s Not a Diet – It’s Not Exercise – It’s a Lifestyle Change

This morning I drove down a suburban street on the way home from dropping off my teenager at school. On this one street alone, there were about a half dozen people out walking. Some had dogs with them; some had a partner; some were alone. These people were different sizes, shapes and ages. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these individuals made walking a regular part of their life.

We are an educated society. We know what a healthy lifestyle looks like. But yet there are more and more new diets popping up all the time. Health clubs make a fortune on cancelled and unfulfilled memberships. The medical and psychological industries are treating more patients with stress related health problems. Our health and how we feel about ourselves physically directly affects our quality of life.

It’s not always easy adapting a healthy lifestyle, but by following these tips, you can be on your way to lasting change.

Connect to Your Desire

What do you truly desire when it comes to your physical health? Forget about what your partner wants or what you think you “should” want. If you hear yourself saying “I should lose 10 pounds”, ask yourself if that is what you really want? Why do you want to make health changes? Why now? When I look at my own health choices, exercise is something I truly want to do. Drinking 64 ounces of water, on the other hand, it not a true desire. All my friends tell me I need to drink more water, but until it becomes my own desire, it’s probably not going to happen.

What Does Health Mean to You?

In order to adopt a healthy lifestyle, it needs to fit who you are and your current phase in life. For instance, if you find exercise boring, then you will need to incorporate some type of movement in your life that is fun. Consider dancing or walking and talking with a friend. You would be amazed at the number of activities that the average person would not consider exercise, but actually, in reality burns calories. Sometimes a busy lifestyle means you will need to find healthy foods that are convenient. Or you may need to consider a 15 minute workout everyday instead of four one-hour workouts every week. Good health does not have to look like what the magazines suggest. Aim for a lifestyle and a physical body that makes you feel good.

Make a Realistic Commitment

Once you’ve connected to your desire, and you have a clear picture of what good health means to you, then make a realistic commitment to live in this manner. Take baby steps towards your overall goal. If you currently do not have an exercise plan, but you want to work out five times per week, start small. Shoot for working out two times per week, and do that consistently for several weeks. Then slowly add a day until you reach your goal. So many diets fail because they deprive you of any “yummy foods”. Let’s get real. Do you honestly think you will go through your entire life never eating pizza or cookies? Isn’t it more realistic to allow yourself some non-diet foods in moderation every once in awhile? Remember your goal is to maintain good physical health, not achieve it and then lose it.

Manage Stress in Your Life

So often it’s stress in our lives that leads us off the healthy path. When we are stressed, our defenses get weak. We seek comfort, and that often means unhealthy and excessive eating, vegetating in front of the TV, or other lifestyle choices that do not support good health. Simplify your life. Try slowing down your schedule. Identify your stressors and develop solutions to conquer stress. One of the stressors in my life is sibling rivalry. If I plan to have a peaceful evening, then I need to get very clear with my boys about what is expected of them. There will be no fighting, or they will both go to their rooms. This is an example of taking a proactive approach to controlling stress in life.

Get Support and Celebrate

Success in making lifestyle changes depends on the support of others. Why do you think Weight Watchers is so popular? Weight Watchers is a diet plan just like the rest of them. However, it is helpful to have the accountability and the camaraderie of other individuals that are trying to make changes in their lives. Join forces with friends and family members that want to develop a healthy lifestyle. Exercise together. Support each other by sharing healthy recipes. Encourage one another when you’re struggling. And most important, celebrate your successes together. The other night I had dinner with a dear friend. A good portion of our dinner conversation focused on our efforts and successes with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I celebrated her recent commitment to working out daily, and she expressed genuine happiness for my current success with preventing migraine headaches in my life.

While making some of these healthy changes can sometimes be difficult, if you keep at it and don’t give up, your new health program will become a way of life. It is then that you know you’ve adopted a healthy lifestyle. This new lifestyle will become as automatic as tying your shoes.