Health is a habit, or a series of them: eating vegetables, exercising, breathing deeply, chewing thoroughly. These are all simple practices that result in great benefit if done consistently. They bring little reward if remembered once in a while. The truth is that the vast majority of chronic diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes and many others) are preventable given positive habits. Did you know that 90% of cancer is caused by modifiable lifestyle choices? There are exceptions such as certain genetic conditions that one is born with, yet we can still effect the expression of our genes with our habits. Disease is rarely something that just happens to us; we play an intrinsic role in its development. We have been led to believe that disease is something that happens to us, and when we get sick, something outside of ourselves such as a medicine or doctor will fix it. This is a very passive and unhelpful approach.
We must empower ourselves to take control of our own health, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to do everything “perfectly”. This is where I like to introduce a concept called “habit creep." There’s no benefit to taking on too many changes at once and giving up after a few days because it was too much to juggle. Instead, pick one area that you want to work on and make a plan.
Three great ways to approach this type of change are:
1. Map out tiny incremental changes to make each day.
This could mean getting a pedometer (or downloading an app on your phone) and walking an additional 100 steps per day each day until you reach your goal. Or it could mean adding one vegetable serving to your diet each day in the form of a carrot, a celery stalk, a few leaves of lettuce, something simple and very easy to prepare. After a week, add another serving per day.
2. Change your environment.
This could include buying 5 containers of floss and putting one in your car, one in your purse or briefcase, one in the kitchen, etc. so you’re more likely to floss daily. Or rather than stocking up on desserts for the week when you go grocery shopping, buy one single serving treat when you’re having a craving so you no longer have a lot of sugary snacks in your house tempting you when you get bored.
3. Ask for help
Ask your family and friends to help support you or take on some changes with you. And consider working with a qualified healthcare provider to provide support and direction and help you choose areas to focus on that will have the greatest impact on your individual health.
Approaching change in this way is infinitely less stressful and more likely to succeed. Once you’ve reached your goal in one area, choose another goal. Soon those first tiny changes you made will be second nature and you’ll be on to the next thing. The best part is that many of these changes will have noticeable benefits such as better energy, better sleep, clearer head, more productivity, weight loss, etc. that you can appreciate almost immediately AND you’ll be lowering your risk for a ton of diseases down the road.
The starting point for you is this... Decide to begin. Your health and well-being are of the greatest value.
So join me. Start your health habit here.