We’re all guilty of putting things off. “I’ll send that email tomorrow” or “One day I’ll get in shape and be able to fit into those pants again”. Then ‘tomorrow’ becomes a few weeks and ‘one day’ becomes several years, with no progress in sight.
It’s true, some things can wait, but when it comes to your health, the longer you practice unhealthy lifestyle behaviours the more likely it is to catch up with you in a serious way.
In my 20 years as a personal trainer in Sydney and working in the health industry, I’ve seen many people come to me as a result of a health scare from their doctor. Sure, that was the kick up the butt they needed to start improving their health, but by then it can be too late to repair the damage, or the journey back to good health is a long, arduous one.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Take a Preventive Health Approach
Just like finances, it’s much easier to get your health in order when you start from a reasonably healthy place to begin with. That way, you’re coming from a place of advantage rather than disadvantage.
Regular exercise is key to maintaining the health of your body and mind. In fact, researchers suggest that exercise is "the best preventive drug" for many common ailments, from psychiatric disorders to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
According to Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery and author of The Exercise Cure:"Exercise is the best preventive drug we have, and everybody needs to take that medicine."
Timothy Church, physician and director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, USA, added that leading an active life is "the most important thing you can do" for long-term health. It strengthens the entire human machine - the heart, the brain, the blood vessels, the bones, the muscles."
And as you well know, diet is a big component of maintaining good health. Healthy eating means consuming high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the foods you eat, while minimising processed foods, saturated fats and alcohol. Nutritional eating in this way helps you maintain your body’s everyday functions, promotes optimal body weight and can assist in disease prevention.
Create a Plan
It’s rare to find a leader in their field who ever succeeded without setting goals and having a plan. The same goes for you if you want to achieve your health goals and have long-lasting behaviour change.
By planning, I mean a plan provided by a preventive health professional, not from your well-meaning relative or friend who may have the same or similar health challenges. Every body is different and your plan needs to be tailored for you.
A personal trainer can assess your level of fitness and develop an exercise regime that challenges you in the right way; lets you build your level of fitness in a safe environment; and helps you integrate healthy behaviour patterns into your daily life. Having a partner in health to coach you can make the world of difference when it comes to motivation, goal setting and accountability. In fact it’s what can make the difference between a short-term result and life-long behaviour change.
Adopting healthier eating behaviours doesn’t have to become a chore that takes over your life, but it does require a bit of organisation ahead of time. Use the weekend or your days off work to get your fruit and vegetables for the week and plan your meals.
Get organised with your exercise by locking in the times each day you’re going to be walking/jogging/cycling or participating in a team sport, and the three sessions or more that you’re going to train with a trainer. Add these commitments to your diary just like you would a work meeting. Its called scheduling YOU time, and you deserve it!
If you fail to plan weekly, you’ll find that unplanned circumstances will take over your schedule and your exercise and healthy eating will be put off yet again.