Happy December dear readers!
I have been away recovering from an acute bout of allergies and migraines. It is only appropriate that my first post back should be about health.
I know how hard you have to work to stay on top of the demands that are placed on your time. Your oldest child probably needs glasses, your younger kid has to be enrolled in soccer and all your baby wants to do is play with you. It feels selfish to say no and focus on your needs.
But, good health is an essential component of a productive life! Especially if you are a parent, health and vitality are key to raising and managing a family.
On top of these demanding family duties, you may be in the midst of a career transition! When I mention health, you say, “I barely have time to get things done! Where will I find the time to even think about my health? How do I find the time to plan for a healthy lifestyle?”
But, my dear, don’t you realize that your health is at the core of your dreams, desires and goals? Without your health, achieving your dreams and celebrating your success, don’t mean a thing!
Furthermore, good health is the very foundation upon which a happy life can be built. Never take your health for granted!
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If you haven’t given your health the attention it deserves, I hope this article is a wake up call for you. Allow me to tell you a little story…
Back in 2006, I took a hiatus from my corporate job for the first time. My hiatus was motivated by my desire to spend more time with my 2nd son, but it was also because I was 55 lbs. overweight.
The photo below is proof positive of how focusing on my work and growing my family had taken its toll on me.
And let me tell ya, I am on the petite side and all that weight was just… weighing me down! I had no energy to run around with my two munchkins. I knew that no matter where my career took me I had to improve my health.
So… I did what I had to do. After I took a break from my job, I joined Weight Watchers. I adhered to that program like my life depended on it. I tracked every single thing I ate and worked out every day of the week.
I have to admit, it was very hard to get into the swing of things initially. I had a toddler and an infant. They required my time. I also didn’t want to let my skills atrophy, and was enrolled in online training during my hiatus.
But I realized that if I didn’t start right then, I would continue to spiral down towards even worse health. When I looked at my family history, it was pretty clear what awaited me at the end of that dark tunnel – diabetes, heart problems, more sinus problems, even arthritis…
The facts don’t lie, for every extra pound you pack on your frame, you are placing more stress on your skeletal structure, you are jeopardizing your immune system and you are impairing the function of your brain. The excess weight also aggravates other health problems you may have, like allergies, sinus issues, diabetes etc.
It took me a solid 8 months to get those 55 lbs. off!
The hardest part was motivating myself in the beginning. Once I had a routine established, I was able to see progress every week. Whether you have 10 lbs. to lose or 100, I am telling you it can be done. But there is a smart way to do it.
Here are my 7 key tips to living a healthy life.
Healthy Life Tip #1: Create A Structure
When you are trying to get back on track to good health, I recommend adopting a program. The program provides a framework for you. All you have to do is follow the rules and focus on taking care of yourself.
As with any program you have to find one that fits your lifestyle. WW has worked wonders for me. I used their program for the first time in 2001 before my wedding. I was able to get in shape fast! I have used their Core plan a few more times since then.
The program you choose will depend on what you need help with? Which takes me to the next tip…
Healthy Life Tip #2: Identify Your Triggers
Everyone has their triggers. Work stress, lack of time to plan, inability to stick to a schedule, or lack of support, these are all triggers that can cause you to lean towards an unhealthy lifestyle.
Being aware of your triggers will help you identify them when they rear their ugly head and nip them in the bud.
In my case it was having 2 kids within 3 years, lack of sleep and work stress. Imposing a structure on my diet and fitness kept me on track. I had tools and support to tackle the triggers. You may also need to…
Healthy Living Tip #3: Recruit Help
I couldn’t have achieved any level of success without the full support of my husband!
Granted he still bought potato chips and ice cream, but he understood my desire to stick to a strict diet. He watched the kids while I went to the gym and provided moral support when I needed it. Also the community at WW was tremendously helpful.
However, it is all in vain unless you…
Healthy Life Tip #4: Set Realistic Expectations
With pregnancy you learn that if it took you 9 months to put it on, it is bound to take you at least 9 months to get it off.
Initially I was very aggressive, halving my calories and doubling my workouts, only to feel enervated. By pacing myself and focusing on the long-term goal, I was able to set a realistic timeframe. This also establishes a baseline.
By all means push yourself to recognize your limits. You will learn how hard you are willing to work and what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your fitness goals. But remember to set realistic expectations for yourself.
To see a long lasting change, you have to…
Healthy Life Tip #5: Shift Your Thinking
Clearly if you are reading an article about health and weight loss it means that you know that something is amiss.
You know that something has to change. You can shift your thinking by shifting your feeling.
How would you like to feel? More vibrant, more energetic, more sexy?
When faced with a trigger that can cause you to regress, shift your thinking to move towards the way you want to feel! Take one small action towards who you want to become.
Change comes from within. Leading a healthy life is all about how you perceive yourself.
An analogy I learnt from a wise lady, if you own a high performance car, would you put low grade fuel in that car? No! Nothing but the very highest grade fuel will ensure that you car runs smooth.
Healthy Life Tip #6: Be Kind To Yourself
Part of changing your thinking is to treat yourself more kindly. Berating yourself on your appearance or your weaknesses doesn’t help. If you are unable to run (as I was initially), workout on a treadmill or an elliptical machine.
If you are unable to do weights, start off with smaller weights or resistance bands. If you do regress get back on track immediately by watching your diet.
Being kind also means you must learn to…
Healthy Life Tip #7: Reward Yourself
Celebrate each milestone and preferably not through food or alcohol!
My favorite rewards are massages, books or shoes. Acknowledging each milestone, be it a weight loss goal, an increase in your endurance level or accomplishing something new altogether (try biking) feels good! It will motivate you to keep going.
One reason people give up on their fitness journey is because they fail to find that spark of inner drive. Beyond a certain point, even the tangible goals, such as seeing the numbers on your scale drop, will not keep you going.
Appreciate the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards of leading a healthy life!
These tips kept me motivated on my journey to losing 55 lbs. almost 6 years ago!
Achieving this goal, made me pursue other audacious goals, such as doing not just one but two skydiving jumps!
I kept those pounds off for over 3 years until I had my daughter.
Which takes me to the present day…
My recent illness has as much to do with controlling my allergies as it does with laser focus on my career and neglect of my health.
I find myself at a place where I am far from a healthy weight. And I am starting my fitness journey all over again.
It has been so easy to come up with excuses.
“I am quitting my job, I don’t have time to start a fitness program.”
“I want to write half a million words this year, I can’t even think about exercising now!”
“I am already suffering from allergies, I don’t have the energy to do cardio.”
“I hate Winter. Besides, the holidays are no time to begin a new diet! I will just put it off until the New Year.”
I have been using these excuses for almost 2 years now.
But enough is enough! I am done feeling exhausted. I am done dealing with health problems. Most of all I am done not being able to run.
Think about it, if I can’t find the time to take care of my most precious asset – my body and my mind – how can I hope to accomplish half of what I have planned? Besides I must get back to my dainty self to film some inspiring videos.
Weight loss is just one part of the health equation. If you have a chronic problem, you must take the initiative to get yourself diagnosed.
Since dealing with these allergies, I have had a full workup done by an allergist. I highly recommend undergoing this procedure if you suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies. Turns out, I am allergic to many things in my indoor and outdoor environment!
No wonder I am tired! I have no intention of moving from my gorgeous Virginia or giving up my interest in hiking/biking.
But what I am prepared to do is experiment with different medications and find one that is better suited to me.
Side Note: Even FDA approved OTC drugs can present problems, if you are experiencing adverse side effects consult your allergist or family doctor.
In spring, I will begin allergen immunotherapy. Let me tell you, I hate needles! But, I am prepared to enroll in this program for the long-term benefits.
Just imagining a daylong hike or playing in the park with my kids without sneezing, or sniffling makes me want to jump for joy!
Being in the best of my health, active and outdoors, that’s not just a pipe dream. I have it within me to achieve that goal. I have made it happen before and it is time to make it happen again!
If there is one thing I have learnt from choosing an authentic life it is this, we must begin where we are, right now.
Every small change is important because it is those small shifts that lead to large wins.
The greatest private victory of all is the one you can have over your body.
Take care of your body first. The rest will soon follow. Choose to lead a healthy life. Begin today.
Many blessings and love!