Life is good, and most of us want to stick around as long as we can. But what is life without a little fun? That’s what we say as we reach for that hamburger, or as we choose to head to the movies or to the bar instead of to the gym. It’s our life, after all. We get to decide how we spend it.
But, of course, we don’t live our lives alone. We’re surrounded by friends and family members, loved ones of all kinds. Life is good for us because they’re around – and life is good for them because we’re around. Our health decisions aren’t made in a vacuum, because we’re not the only people with an investment in our own well-being. Unless you live as a hermit somewhere way off of the grid, you probably have a wealth of personal relationships – and a ton of people counting on you. So while everyone deserves a hamburger once in awhile, your decisions don’t affect you alone.
That may seem like a downer, but when you think about it, it’s not such a bummer at all: your important personal relationships are a great thing about your life, and they offer a positive and powerful motivation to stay healthy and live longer. Keeping them in mind isn’t about guilt-tripping yourself over every hamburger; it’s about finding the drive to run that extra mile or eat that extra vegetable that you really hate.
You have to enjoy life, and nobody is going to tell you that you should live every moment with the sole goal of living as long as you can. If you did that, you’d lock yourself in your house and never cross the street. You’d rarely see the family and friends that we’re talking about here!
So this really, truly is not about guilt. Don’t think negatively, and don’t beat yourself up if you’re out of shape. Never, ever think of your poor health decisions as if they’re costing you time with your family – instead, think of your good health decisions as things that give you more time with your family. If you’re so out of shape that you’re concerned for your fate in the short-term, turn to an insurance broker like Our Life Covered and invest in life insurance – if you have kids or a spouse, you should probably have a policy anyway!
Frame your health journey in the positive. Your current lifestyle is what you’re starting from, so your positive health decisions are likely to gain you time on this earth, while keeping on your current path will simply keep your headed towards your current destiny. The only change here is positive change.
But what does positive change look like? You’re thinking of your loved ones and you’re fired up. You’re ready to invest in your health and well-being. What do you do? Nutrition, dieting, and exercis can seem very complicated, but healthy living really boils down to a few simple rules. Here are the big three.
Let’s start with the toughest rule to follow: eat well. It’s hard to eat well for two reasons: because the food that’s worst for you is designed to taste oh so good, and because nutrition science is complex and ever-changing. But you don’t have to eat perfectly to eat well! It’s enough to improve your eating slowly by picking up good habits. Use this simple rule: shop around the edges of your grocery store, where you’ll find vegetables, meats, and other “whole” foods, and avoid the aisles as much as possible, where you’ll find unhealthier processed foods. Start glancing at food labels. Don’t sweat the vitamins – instead, check the three vital macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates). Are you eating a lot of carbohydrates and fats? There’s a good chance you are.
Next, you’ll want to eat less if you’re overweight. If you’re not overweight, don’t sweat this step! If you are, here’s some bad news: no diet fad will let you avoid the harsh reality that the only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than you burn. And here’s the even harsher reality: food beats exercise every time. Runners say you “can’t outrun a bad diet,” and you can’t out-cycle, out-lift, or out-Zumba one, either. It’s a lot easier to not eat one candy bar than it is to run five miles (yes, you’d really have to run that far – food beats exercise every time). Eating well will help you feel full and nourished, so this lesson works in combination with the first!
Finally, you’ll need to exercise. This alone won’t help you shed a ton of pounds: as mentioned above, a bad diet can conquer any good exercise plan. But weight isn’t everything in health, and exercise is absolutely vital to your overall well-being. Exercise improves heart health, builds muscle, and, yes, aids your weight-loss journey. It’s not a cure for a bad diet, but it’s an essential part of your health plan. You can exercise anywhere – just go for a walk! – but you may find that the best way to stay committed is to join a gym and attend fitness classes. There are also tons of great exercise resources online.
Take these three lessons to heart and you’ll be positioned to change your life and improve your health! It won’t be easy, but remember: you’ll be drawing on the power of your love for your family and friends. Every step you take and every cookie you avoid is part of your commitment to spending as much time as possible supporting and loving those closest to you. Nothing is more important.