Health Spectrum

Thank you all for sharing and liking my post the other day. Please continue to keep all the victims from this past week in your thoughts, and consider donating to this fund set up. You could even get this Boston shirt to run your next race in – 100% of profit goes to One Fund Boston. Do what you need to do to remember and recover from this week – for me, it meant restoring my body and mind in a hot hip-hop yoga class yesterday. Nothing like sweat-dripping vinyasas to Baby Got Back to clear my mind.

Health lies along a spectrum. It’s not black and white – healthy or unhealthy. It’s also not just physical health. Health is holistic – it includes physical, mental, social, spiritual, and whatever other areas you want to include. You can be physically fit and eat a nutrient-dense diet but remain socially isolated or depressed.

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Using the terms “good” or “bad” foods, or “I’ve been bad with eating lately,” just puts a negative spin on food. Foods like ice cream that are high in sugar may deplete some nutrient stores, but enjoying a cup of ice cream in the summer in a stress-free environment may be just what your mental and social health needs.

Patients or friends often talk about health is a huge undertaking. Yes, it is a daily commitment, but don’t let your health goals overwhelm you.

Who’s familiar with this story? You decide to “get healthy” and do everything all at once – start a new diet and promise to go to the gym everyday. Then, your co-worker brings in cupcakes for her birthday. You’ve been “so good” that you indulge in just one cupcake. Within minutes, you feel guilty, and then, you eat another one, followed by Chinese food take-out that night. After work, you go to the gym for hours to “work off the calories,” and you go to bed promising that your diet starts again tomorrow.

To start on the road of health, you have to stop the all-or-nothing mindset! No matter what your weight or BMI is, how many medications you’re on, or the state of your health conditions, you can be healthy.

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It all starts with your thoughts. Losing weight or reversing disease absolutely is a big task, but don’t make it overwhelming. Take the first step, and let momentum drive you forward.

Change your mindset from “need” to “want.” Rather than, “I NEED to lose 50 pounds”, tell yourself that “I WANT to lose 50 pounds, so I can move around and play with my children.” Write down your overarching health goals and all the reasons you want to achieve them. Then, write down all the pros of achieving them, such as more energy, and the barriers to achieving them, such as the time to prepare and cook fresh food. Finally, write down an action plan with specific goals to get there, and how you will overcome your barriers. Focus on 1-2 of these specific goals at a time.

For example, if time is a barrier in losing weight, you may find it’s easier to prep food on a Sunday for weekday meals, so you have healthy meals ready for you.

Don’t wait until you’re at your goal weight to be happy and healthy. If you have weight to lose, you may still be healthier than someone at a normal BMI that eats junk food and doesn’t exercise. Your weight does not determine your health. Focus on building health habits wherever you are along the spectrum of health. Be happy with your progress. You don’t have to wait until you’re goal weight to flaunt a new outfit. You can tell people how excited you are that you’ve lost 20 pounds, even if you still have a ways to go. Set goals along the way, and celebrate each one.

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Focus on how you FEEL. Remember – weight is just a number, and the predetermined “goal” weight in your mind may not be the weight you body wants to be at. If your goal weight is 130 pounds, and you feel awesome at 150, and that weight is easy to maintain, then, don’t force your body to lose 20 pounds. You may feel tired, fatigued, and depressed at 130 pounds. Weight, clothes size, etc. are all just numbers. Don’t let them determine your happiness or mood for the day. Focus on health instead!

Keep a health journal. This is one of the best ways to see changes, especially over time. Write whatever you want to focus on at that point, such as your weight over time, your energy levels throughout the day, how many servings of veggies you ate that day, or your exercise or activity. Writing your goals and actions down keeps you motivated and accountable, and it’s great to look back after a few months or years to see how far you’ve come!

Your point along the health spectrum changes with your life at the time, and you have to be open to making changes to maintain your health. If you change jobs, start a family, move, or something else changes in your life, it will affect other parts of your life. Don’t postpone your health habits during these times – instead, make changes to keep going. Your habits and priorities may change during these times – they should! If you’re busy moving across the country, focus on getting enough sleep rather than worrying about exercise. If you’re starting a new job and exhausted after work, try working in a few short walks during the day instead of missing out on sleep to wake up early for the gym.

journey

When you prioritize your health and view it as a journey, you begin to make small changes. These changes become habits, and over time, you’ll be amazed how far you’ve come. Maybe you start by adding a salad to your lunch everyday – pretty soon, this may turn into eating a huge variety of vegetables with each meal everyday. Figure out what works for you, and go for it! Stay positive, and focus on how you feel, especially your energy levels. Most importantly, encourage others in their health journey. Not only will this motivate others (and you!), but it will empower you to take charge of your health.

What tips & tricks do you use on your health journey?

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