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It’s time to be honest. Not with me. Be honest with yourself. How is your health, physical, mental, and emotional? Are you the person you want to be? Are you living the life you want to live?

The pandemic threw us all for a loop, and whether we realize or not, our health is suffering. Major stress, less time out and about, and lack of social interactions all negatively impact health. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and now is the perfect time to refocus on your health. In fact, NOW is the only time to focus on your health. You cannot change what you did yesterday or predict what will come tomorrow. You can only control how you act right now in the current moment. So, be honest with yourself…are you choosing healthy behaviors?

What do I mean by healthy behaviors? Going to the gym every day? Eating a totally natural diet? Meditating and relaxing daily? Sure, these would all be great healthy behaviors! They are also very unrealistic for a lot of people and may add additional stress to your life. Most people know, generally speaking, what behaviors are absolutely good for us (like eating veggies) and what behaviors are absolutely bad for us (like eating junk food). So why is it so difficult to be healthy? Simply put, because we are human. The answer may be simple, but our lives are nothing close to simple. Not only do we have the stress of daily life from work, school, family life, etc. but we are inundated with often conflicting health information from the media and social media. One day eggs are great for you, the next day they will kill you. You have people swearing by keto and others telling their tragic stories with the diet. You have people telling you not to eat to carbs and others saying you need more. So, what’s the right answer? I’ll give you a hint…if there was a right answer, we wouldn’t have all this confusion!

At the heart of any true healthy lifestyle, you will see three common themes: whole foods (i.e. avoiding processed foods), physical activity, and stress reduction. So no, I’m not going to give you the secret here, because the secret lies within YOU. What works for you may be completely different than what works for your mom, significant other, or best friend. This article is not about focusing on WHAT to do, because you can look back at my countless other blogs that discuss that in detail. Today is about understanding the importance of your mindset when making healthy choices and working towards lasting healthy behavior change. That mindset will ultimately determine not only your success, but your EXPERIENCE while making changes in your life to put you on the path to optimal wellness.

STOP COMPARING YOURSELF

Right now. Stop doing it. We all fall victim to it from time to time (some of us more than others). This is the most detrimental thing you can do. Because no matter how hard you try to be like *insert name of person you idealize* you will never be like that person, because you are NOT that person! We are all completely unique individuals with different genes, environments, and experiences that have shaped us into the people we are today. All of these things will affect how we respond to different diets, exercise regimens, and stress. So stop trying to be someone else and instead focus on being the best version of YOU! That’s step number one. It’s great to be inspired by friends or family and use them as a support system, but at the end of the day you have to be making changes because YOU want to change, not because someone else wants you to change.

STOP TRYING TO ERASE THE PAST

Rafiki from The Lion King said it best: “Oh yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.”

If you have struggled with your weight in the past, like I have my entire life, or struggled with other health issues, it doesn’t magically go away. The choices you make every single day will either put you on the path to wellness or the path to disease. When we finally get to a point of wellness, all we want to do is forget how horrible it was to be unhealthy. But when we forget how bad it was, we also conveniently forget how the choices we were making led us to that point. And that’s when those choices slowly creep back into our lives. No, of course you don’t want to dwell in the past. Celebrate your accomplishments! Celebrate them every single day by reminding yourself that the choices you are making NOW are the reason you feel this good! Learn from your past and move forward. Appreciate the person you were then and the journey to becoming the person you are now.

STOP THINKING IN THE NEGATIVE

Along those same lines, it’s important not to think about the things you are giving up to achieve health. We often think of health as NO sugar, NO alcohol, NO fast food, NO sitting for long periods, NO NO NO. If this is your mindset, of course it’s going to be difficult! Who wants to live like that, saying no to every little thing? Instead, shift your mindset into the positive. I GET to eat whole, fresh, healthy foods, I GET to hydrate my body with lots of water and herbal tea, I GET to prepare healthy meals to enjoy at home with my family, I GET to find new ways to be active throughout the day. It may seem silly at first, but focusing on all the wonderful things that come with a healthy lifestyle makes the whole experience much more enjoyable and lasting. When we say things like “I could never give up sugar or alcohol,” what we are saying is that piece of cake or glass of wine is more important than your health. Instead, if you shift that mindset to “I will focus on making healthy choices and staying hydrated daily, and in the event I choose to have the occasional treat, I will enjoy it and know it has not ruined my overall goals or journey to wellness.” Changing your relationship with food and exercise is critical for living a long, healthy, and enjoyable life!

STOP SEEING EXERCISE AS AN OBLIGATION

As a fitness professional, I love nothing more than seeing people having FUN at the gym. Because that’s exactly what it should be! Exercise is a celebration of your body’s incredible ability to move, adapt, and grow! Just like anything, if you are trying to cram exercise into an already overly busy schedule just because you feel you have to in order to accomplish your health goal, it will likely not be enjoyable or long-lasting. If instead you find something you enjoy doing or people you enjoy being active with, then suddenly that activity will become the priority you plan your schedule around, instead of the other way around. And it’s always great if you have a couple different options, because your exercise preferences will change based on your mood, energy level, and how well you slept. And that’s okay! There are days I want to go to kickboxing and be around others, there are days I want to go to the gym, blast music in my headphones, and lift by myself, and there are days I want to go for long walks through the woods. All great options to be healthy and active! Don’t be afraid to try new things! You may surprise yourself!

STOP THINKING SELF-CARE IS SELFISH

This is a big one. In a non-stop world with endless obligations, how dare you take time for yourself, right?!? Wrong! That’s exactly what you need to do! You can’t pour from and empty glass. You have to give yourself time to rest, relax, and recharge! How productive could you possibly be at work or in your home life if you are constantly burnt out? Find things you can do daily (like walking, stretching, journaling, or meditation), weekly (shopping or a bubble bath), and monthly (massage, pedicure, etc.). Schedule it! Because yes, life gets busy, so make sure these things are on your calendar along with everything else. We all need and deserve time to simply relax and be alone with our thoughts or a good book (or a pillow!). It’s not selfish to take care of yourself with as much love and effort as you take care of everything else in your life.

The bottom line, your mindset is everything! Small shifts in the way you think about your choices and your health can have some BIG impacts! It can be overwhelming to get started, but the good news is, I’m here to help! Whether you are totally lost or just need some extra accountability along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I am here to help guide you and discover the best lifestyle for YOU to Get Healthy and Stay Healthy for Life!

~ Angela, Salutogenic Specialist

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