A Journey to Better Health
Before you dive in to the words below, I encourage you to read this in light of “Years End Resolutions.” Too often we wait until January to begin making better choices for our health. Read this with the challenge of making changes at the beginning of December instead of waiting until the new year.
Balanced health is a journey not a destination. Would you agree with this statement? I believe that part of our frustration, and therefore, failure, when it comes to achieving wellness is just that, we are waiting to “arrive” at good health. It is hard to consistently see wellness as a journey. And yes, someone may be in good health one day but it doesn’t take too many trips to a favorite fast food restaurant and too many non-trips to the gym that we can quickly detour in the opposite direction.
Health is kind of like our relationship with God: we are either moving closer to Him or farther away towards our own desires. We are never static. The same goes for our physical bodies. We are either making choices to have a stronger body or a weaker body. There really is no middle ground.
With that being said, a few days of stepping in the mud does not have to result in rolling around in it. Does that mean we cannot ever enjoy fried foods or a venti drink from Starbucks? Of course not! But, our choices do matter. Remember how our thoughts matter? It all matters.
Now, let’s take a look at some practical considerations. Keep these in mind as you continue the journey towards better health.
- Green, yellow, red. You can on some level “rank” foods. The green category consists of foods like fruits and veggies. Load up on these and enjoy! Yellow foods are still good for us but portion size should be paid closer attention to. I would place low fat dairy, whole grains, and lean protein in this category. Lastly, the red group contains foods that can be consumed on occasion like fried foods, desserts, and other foods high in saturated fat like bacon and sausage.
- Is it worth it? Think about how you will feel after that second helping or eating fill-in-the-blank. Are the calories and taste truly worth it? Or will you be left feeling worse than you did before? Most of the time, a second helping is in fact not worth it and will be paid for hours later.
- What emotions are you feeling? If you are about to dive into that half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream (soon to be back on the shelf in grocery stores, I do hope) because you had a stressful day, think again. Not only will you feel bad physically after devouring copious amounts of ice cream but also you will be left emotionally and mentally worse than you were before. Put down the spoon. Go for a walk. Call a friend.
- See past the pain. Exercise is often painful, right? But in spite of the pain, there is also a tremendous energy and sense of accomplishment that comes from exercising. The easier choice is to stay put on the couch. If you are only focused on the workout itself, the couch will win every single time. I encourage you to see past the pain, envisioning how you will feel when you get back in your car to drive home after the workout. I am fully convinced that the long-term benefits outweigh the temporary aches.
- The lesser of two evils. Let’s be real. There are just those days when life happens and success is defined as putting anything edible on the table before 9:00 pm. Fast food is going to happen at times. Even when you feel you cannot cook you can choose which restaurant your car goes to. On top of that, you can choose what you order. Choose grilled chicken over the burger. Choose fruit or salad instead of fries. Forget the coke and dessert. These simple changes can make what could have been a “red” meal just a “yellow” meal. Be picky about which restaurant your car takes you to.
- One day at a time. A healthy lifestyle truly is one day at a time, one choice at time. If you had a wonderful day yesterday, great! Be fueled by the momentum but know that today is a new day. Did you fall off the wagon and roll around in the mud yesterday? Get over it and start fresh today! Each sunrise is a new opportunity to make healthful choices, one bite at a time.
Keep moving forward on the journey to better health. Remember, at all times you do have control and you do have a choice. Do the best you can with the ebb and flow of circumstances, one day at a time, one bite at a time, one workout at a time, one choice at a time.