What do you have in this life if you don't have your health?
This month, challenge yourself to pick a few days each week to make your health a priority. Block specific times off in your calendar to go to the gym, do something active outside, practice yoga, engage in stress-reducing activities, prepare a healthy meal, or something else for your health. Many of us make excuses as to why we can’t put our health first.
Consider the following common excuses and our suggestions regarding how you can change your mindset.
Excuse #1: Lack of Time
Time is a luxury that few of us have. Sure, the working single dad of triplets doing his MBA part time has “less time” to focus on his health than the newly retired, but when it comes down to it, we all get 24 hours in a day. If you say that you don’t have time for your health, what you’re really saying is “my health is just not my priority”. You know that C-level executive friend of yours who sits on five boards, coaches her daughters’ soccer team, is constantly hosting dinner parties and yet still finds time to jog to and from work every day? She probably doesn’t have more time than you do, she just has different priorities. Have you ever heard the expression “If you need something done ask a busy person to do it”? It seems to hold true that the more we do, the more we can do. The more we practice time management, the more skilled at it we become. We’re not suggesting that you should try to cram as much into your already-packed schedule as possible just to practice your time anagement skills. Instead of trying to squeeze in health-focused activities when you have time, schedule time to allocate toward your health first, and plan other activates around it. Start with small, simple changes that you can integrate easily into your existing routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car farther from work nd walk the rest of the way, practice meditation during your commuter train ride to work, listen to a news podcast while walking around the neighbourhood instead of reading the paper on your couch. Whatever you need to do to make more time for your health, do it. When you block off time in your calendar for self-care, honour the commitment the same way you would an important meeting.
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Excuse #2: Old habits
Old habits do die hard. Why? Because our brains work on a trigger and reward basis — the so-called “habit loop” — which means that once you slip into a bad habit or unhealthy routine, it is difficult to fight back. Long-time unhealthy habits often become entrenched in our life at the neural level, becoming powerful determinants of our daily behaviours. But even if you’ve been eating poorly or living a sedentary lifestyle for decades, you are capable of making a positive change. This is especially true when we can recognize which unhealthy behaviours have become habitual so we can focus on breaking our unhealthy habits one by one. One strategy is to think of a specific ‘replacement behaviour’ for an existing unhealthy habit. For example, replace that 4pm coffee and pastry with a 4pm apple and herbal tea. If you spend 30 minutes each morning scrolling aimlessly through your
smartphone, start a new habit of spending 30 minutes each morning doing an at-home exercise routine. When it comes to breaking unhealthy habits, be patient with yourself and take them on one by one. The longer you’ve had the unhealthy habit, the harder it will be to break. Set small realistic goals each day or each week and then work toward them.
Excuse #3: Consequences
People often neglect to put their health first because they fear that by doing so they will ultimately fail something else. If you go to that yoga class on Sunday morning you’ll miss the first half of your son’s hockey practice. If you spend time tonight preparing healthy food to take to work, you won’t have time to prepare for tomorrow morning’s meeting. If you go to bed at the same time as the kids because you’re exhausted – you’ll have to leave the kitchen a mess and the laundry sitting getting wrinkled in the dryer. The reality is you can’t put yourself first without putting something else second. Maybe you can’t put your health first today, maybe not even this week, but if you NEVER put your health first it will catch up with you. If you want to be there for the people you love you need to get your priorities straight.
Excuse #4: Bad Influences
You may be motivated to get fit or healthy, but what about your spouse, partner, or family members? Are they helping you achieve your health goals or are they standing in the way? A strong support network definitely makes success easier. Not surprisingly, research suggests that in every area of health improvement, success rates improve dramatically when partners and family members living in the same household set and achieve health goals together. Whether it is quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, shedding excess pounds, limiting refined sugar intake, managing stress, or just getting more sleep, setting and achieving goals with your partner together improves success. However, just because your partner, children, or work colleagues are eating junk food, going to bed too late, living a sedentary lifestyle or engaging in some other unhealthy activity doesn’t mean you should give up trying to make a change yourself. Focus on you. Find a friend to be your workout buddy or join a local running group or boot camp to help gain support and motivation. Your family members will come around when they see how great you are doing (and how good you look)! Making your health a priority can be tough – especially if you’ve spent decades putting everyone else’ needs before your own. At Medisys, we empower our clients to make small sustainable changes to their life to manage their health risks and life their best life. With the right resources, knowledge and confidence, you can make a change and look forward to
a healthy future!
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