Several years ago, I reluctantly faced the truth.
My family’s medical history was stacked against me
Seems the ancestral tree was plagued with a deadly list of health issues — cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol to name a few.
There seemed to be a progressively high incidence in the current generation and, after doing some research, I discovered an obvious pattern — a definite correlation between lifestyle, diet, and the ultimate consequences of both.
The three most negative influences appeared to be:
- the consumption of processed, convenience, and fast food
- a sedentary lifestyle, and
- a dismissive attitude toward precautionary health measures
My family members weren’t the only ones affected
More and more of my friends and business peers were experiencing similar challenges in the form of low energy, less strength and flexibility, and general complaints about chronic aches and pains.
Beyond the superficial ailments, their lives and income were being affected. They found it increasingly necessary to take time off work, which also correlated with an increased number of doctor’s visits.
And yet, many of them refused to consider the source of the problem.
Hoping to remedy the symptoms with a “magic” pill, they rationalized their situation with much too-common rhetoric:
“I don’t have time to exercise,” or “ I’m much too busy,” or, “The processed and fast food I eat must be okay, otherwise they couldn’t sell it.”
That’s when it hit me — I’d often made similar statements.
I knew if I didn’t make some changes and take responsibility for my life, I was destined to follow the same path — one leading to heart problems, cancer, and premature death.
Researching alternative nutrition and fitness options became a top priority. My goal was to learn as much as possible in an effort to overcome my family legacy.
Despite the vast amount of information available online, I found very little that seemed to be a good fit.
I didn’t want to starve myself to create a perfect, trim-and-slim figure, nor was I interested in a training program for becoming a decathlon athlete. So I kept digging — searching for information that made sense to me personally and offered realistic protocols I could incorporate into my existing schedule and lifestyle.
Here are four key strategies I discovered in my quest to find better, natural ways to enhance my health — and take control of my future. I hope some of these suggestions resonate with you.
It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor to obtain a current professional assessment of your health before starting a new regimen of exercise and diet.
1. Start where you are
Before I could begin making even the smallest change, I had to get over the negative thoughts that reinforced my old, unhealthy habits.
I finally faced the facts
If I stayed on my current path of eating the wrong types of food while continuing to avoid any kind of exercise, I’d never break the cycle of self-destruction that had plagued my family for three generations.
I ditched all the convenient justifications of being too busy, or too tired, or disinterested, and decided to make a commitment to change — one step at a time.
Bottom line: You’re never too old or too out-of-shape to begin the journey back to better health.
2. Find methods and strategies that work for you
Seems lots of folks — experts and laypeople alike — have the answer to our diet and health problems.
With so many approaches, opinions, and “miracles” available, it can be a challenge to sort through all the options. Before following the “guaranteed skinny diet” or investing in the newest bottle of weight loss pills, look for ways that make sense for you and your life.
You’ll have a better chance of sticking with changes that feel right and are manageable within your existing work obligations and personal responsibilities.
3. Start small and make adjustments in your food choices and fitness options — one day at a time
It’s important to begin your program slowly, allowing the changes to integrate naturally into your schedule and mindset.
For exercise, try walking, swimming, or riding a bike. As your confidence and strength increases, consider joining a gym. You may want to work with a trainer who can guide you at your own pace to achieve the results you desire.
Work toward a more nutritious diet by eliminating toxic sugary and fat-laden food.
Build on your successes — large and small — and keep going.
4. Don’t look back
Maintaining a positive mindset is crucial to achieving results. Once you begin to notice improvements in your outlook and health, it’s vital to keep your focus on the future.
Resist the urge to dwell on past mistakes
Feeling sorry for yourself is a common reaction to uncomfortable change. In some cases, you may have to break habits that were formed over the majority of your lifetime. Remember, by observing the poor choices of others — and the negative results they are forced to live with — the connection between health, diet, and exercise becomes painfully obvious.
Own Up to Your Unhealthy Past and Get on With Your Life
Why you need to take responsibility for your mistakes
But you’re no longer part of that group.
By deciding to pursue better health as a primary objective, you’ll gain the benefits of having more stamina, strength, and a stronger immune system. And in the long-term, you’ll give yourself the potential of increasing your longevity.
It’s not an easy journey
The path is often littered with distractions and temptation.
But every day we’re given the choice to either make better decisions that reduce the probability of debilitating disease, or to rejoin the short-sighted majority, who can’t see beyond the immediate gratification of excessive eating and a sedentary lifestyle.
I hope you’ll find a few ideas and tools you can integrate into your own life.
Learning to be healthy is a work-in-progress and, like most projects, continues to evolve and grow.
It all starts with a commitment to developing new habits that promote a vigorous and fulfilling life.
© 2020 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.
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Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, and founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and Kitchen Spirit. Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies for living longer and stronger through positive lifestyle choices.