Is it possible that every person cares about their health in some way, but some care about their health more than others? Do you ever wonder what difference it makes?
I don’t know if you’ve ever questioned the pursuit of health or fitness. I’ve seen many others assume that being healthy or caring about fitness detracts from the full enjoyment and experience of life.
Dive in and find out for yourself
I write this to encourage your decision to dive head first into your health journey, because there will be detractors along the way – the friends who say, ‘Oh, lighten up, just enjoy life!’ when they hand you a piece of cake that you’d rather not eat; the family members who laugh at your decision; the junk food aisles; or even your own head telling you that you’re nuts. I’ve been there.
Both you and I have different ways of looking at pleasure and health. You and I find fulfillment and enjoyment from different experiences and we both have different situations that make healthy choices easier or harder to make, yet I have no doubt that we both enjoy keeping healthy.
For you, keeping healthy might mean making sacrifices and feeling restricted in making tough decisions – depending where you’re at now – while for others it’s empowerment of the greatest kind.
It takes time to get to the latter and there’s no greater time than now to dive in to discover it.
I admit that I used to be in the former category. I hated exercise. I hated the way it made me feel and I hated being teased for turning bright red after any exertion. Doing it seemed too hard. For a while there, I took pride in eating whatever I wanted as an act of defiance towards people modelling a healthy life (sounds stupid now).
I’m well and truly past that because I have lived experience that tells me how wrong I was.
I now see living a healthy life as one of the most empowering decisions that you can make for yourself and your family. It is a decision that may polarise some people and confront others. That’s okay.
What’s important is to pursue it anyway.
3 ways to give your health precedence in your life
If you had the time, energy or money to make health a priority then you would, right?
If only more people were on board with your decision to keep healthy, then it’d be easier and you’d do it.
If only you had all your ducks in a row – like better information, nice gym gear, the right friends or spouse, a better salary, and motivation – then you could give your health precedence in your life.
Truth is, life doesn’t work that way.
Motivation is a myth and commitment is what’ll see you through. What you prioritise and action displays your commitment, whether motivation comes first or not.
To truly give health precedence in your life, you must first embrace, confront, accept, or work with the imperfections, distractions, mishaps, and anything unexpected that will inevitably pop up.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
– Stephen Covey
Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.
– Lao Tzu
Here are 3 ways to make it happen:
Believe it to be true
You must believe that making health a priority is the right decision and that it’s worthwhile (and hella’ fun!). Have faith, trust yourself, make choices, and live this belief with conviction.
If you don’t believe it’s important, start by confronting and questioning that belief. What needs to happen to make it important to you? What risks are you taking by NOT making it a priority?
If you know health is important, but you can’t convince yourself to make it happen, then keep reading. It’s essential to find the time and make the effort to see the results that are possible. What are the risks you’re taking by NOT making your health a true priority? Confront them.
If health is a priority and you’re keen to give it all you’ve got, then all the power to you. Keep going.
Whether a) you’re not sure it’s important, b) you know it’s important and you know how and what to do but you can’t convince yourself to do it, or c) you’re making it a priority and you’re ready to go deeper, it’s wise to write down and continue recalling why this mission is important to you.
That will carry you through the ups and downs to come.
If you’re not sure where to look for your ‘why,’ read my post about starting with love.
Embrace life’s messiness
It’s likely that you will easily list the reasons you can’t do something – whether that’s exercise, prepare food, eat healthily, etc – and very poorly do the opposite: i.e. list the reasons you can.
That’s largely to do with fear and perceived (sometimes legit) limitations or frustrations of modern life, many of which we’ve been conditioned to believe. It’s harder to break free of self-imposed limitations than to forge your own path, though it’s the greatest feeling in the world when you do.
When you start accepting and embracing the mess, there’ll be doubts or moments of bad behaviour. Yet hopefully you’ll remember that that’s all a part of the beautiful mess that is life.
You just have to brush yourself off and get back on the horse.
None of this will happen so well without mitigating your risks and working with the reality of being human (forgetfulness, poor long term vision, impulsiveness, emotions). You are only human.
Embracing life’s messiness means planning and scheduling – without the expectation of perfection, if you can handle that – around the failings of your brain’s rewards systems (hello, dopamine hit!) and shortfalls. Create the environment for it. Your exercise, meal preparation, farmers market visits, the food you store in your house (and the foods you don’t)… these are some of the things that need to take precedence in your schedule AS WELL AS giving yourself room to move for dinners out or busier work days; creating restriction when totally necessary. Doing the best that you can with what you’ve got means doing the risk-assessment, making a plan, starting, and executing that mission to the best of your ability. Sometimes restriction will be required if you’re unwell or in pain for example – and that’s when you need to make a stand on, like, not eating certain foods at dinner but seeing your friends anyway (I will write on that another time).
Don’t sell yourself short by believing that you can’t figure out a way to make health a priority in your life. I know you’re smarter than that and more creative than you’ve lead me to believe!
One last thing on this one, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
I ask for help, especially if I know I need a kick up the bum! You could hire a trainer or financial adviser, ask your friends for support or get a gym buddy. Seek professional help if you need to.
Step into your power
By believing health is an important priority, by embracing life’s messiness, asking for help, committing to making your goals a reality, and going all in, you may rediscover something magic.
I’ll give you a pretty big hint what that is.
It’s YOUR PERSONAL POWER.
It might sound strange to ‘step into your power’… and I own that. I’ll see if I can explain it.
The moment you transfer the responsibility of your choices or actions to the food aisle, a difficult family or social situation, an inability to get help, the ‘too-hard’ basket, or self-doubts, you may be giving your power away. I want you to keep it and I think you know you’re better than that.
This is what I’d love to see you do: Find strength and have faith in your choices. Back yourself, especially when things suck. Plan and shift priorities or finances to make this healthy life of yours real. Find conviction. Learn to say ‘no’ and create boundaries that stop you from living small. Strengthen your healthy choices through action.
That’s my dream and it’s easier said than done but like anything good, it takes time.
Something I’ve learned many times over is to let go and radically accept a) myself and b) attachment to certain outcomes or visions of “how it should be” – like how you ‘should’ be able to walk through the chocolate aisle and not need to eat everything in sight or how you ‘should’ be able to have all your ducks in a row to be healthy without interruptions or lack of motivation. Yeah, right.
I think letting go allows mindfulness to come into action, allowing the true process and journey to take shape organically; breathing through any guilt, blame, shame, or suffering that rears its head, and owning those experiences while reviving trust in yourself and your personal power.
Making health a priority is a huge act of self-respect and love.
It pays to know thyself and listen to thyself.
You make a difference
Giving your health precedence in your life doesn’t mean that nothing else is important. In fact, giving it priority only emphasises how important the rest of your life truly is.
If you’d like more information or guidance to action the life of your healthy dreams, sign up to my e-mail list and you’ll receive exclusive updates about my Healthy Shift e-Program (currently in the works).