Give yourself some credit – you know more then you probably think you do. About what you may ask? Health stuff in general. Health Stuff encompasses quite a bit. It includes diet, nutrition, prevention, treatment, exercise, environmental factors, and a host of other things. It is almost impossible to not pick things up given the enormous amount of information we are inundated with on a regular basis from a myriad of sources. I have noticed even over the last 10 years how my patients’ overall health IQs have continually improved as a whole. This is a good thing, obviously, in that the more we know about our health the healthier we will be – or will we?
I would like think it does. But the fact is that I am not so sure since knowing and doing are certainly not the same thing. I often lecture corporate groups on various topics with the most common being a combination of Stress, Nutrition, and Optimal Health. Although I think it is a pretty good talk and generally get great feedback that it was very informative, I seldom reveal or share anything groundbreaking. I actually tell the audience that most everything I am going to go over they probably already know. I am there to remind them why what we are discussing is important – and what someone might do to incorporate some positive changes into their busy lives.
How does someone improve an area of their life when they know what to do but find it challenging to actually do it? Believe it or not but it is remarkably simple. It is a matter of a kind of cost benefit analysis businesses do regularly but applied to yourself individually. Simply put, the question is “What is the cost of making a positive change in my life and how much will it really help me out?” We perform this analysis without knowing it all the time with many things in our lives – but it really helps to do it with purpose.
If you can figure out what actions you can take that have the greatest effect health-wise with the least amount of “cost” to you then you can begin to make some great strides toward improving your overall health. By “cost” I generally mean the big three: Time, Money and Effort. It is these three that determine what a person may be willing to do to improve themselves. I frequently make the observation that if we all had more time and money it would be easy to get healthier – that is an obvious one. But what is a person to do when time and money are at a premium, but they still have a strong need and desire to improve themselves?
I would recommend picking one or two things to start with and go from there. DO NOT burden yourself with unrealistic expectations only to let yourself down when it becomes obvious you have bitten of more than you can chew. It is the whole New Year’s resolution conundrum. We decide on the last day or two of the year that beginning January 1st we are going to change a dozen or so things about ourselves that for some reason we have been unable or unwilling to change in the last 20 or 30 years. And we are going to do it ALL AT ONCE. Go for broke. Take no prisoners. This year will be DIFFERENT.
It all sounds good in theory, but tends to fall apart when the burden of time, cost and effort kicks in. It is a very real form of negative reinforcement that dissuades us from making further progress in the future. We basically set ourselves up for failure time and time again without knowing it.
So the best remedy is to recognize your patterns so you do not keep repeating them. Acknowledge that maybe trying a third or fourth 4 week Brussel sprout juice fast is not the best way for you to lose weight or that an intense 7 day a week running regiment is not the best course for getting through the LA Marathon 10 weeks away. It is OK to admit to, and laugh at, your past over- zealous efforts . Give yourself a break and take a deep breath. YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT TO DO. It is just a matter of some new perspective and practical application of some basic things.
Want to eat better? Start with a 7 day diet diary to assess your overall food tendencies – and then pick ONE part of your diet to change at a time.
Want to lose weight? Drink more water, eat smaller meals more frequently, walk 30 minutes at lunch during the week.
Want a body and mind that respond better to stress? Learn to breath in through your nose and out through your mouth for 5 consecutive minutes without checking your email.
Want to get rid of chronic pain? Stop thinking it will go away on its own and make an appointment with us to finally fix it.
The examples can go on and on. You get the idea.
Once you get good at the simpler things you can always add on to them in a manner that is reasonable and doable for your busy life. That way you will be making real, permanent and effective improvements in your life that will continue to reap benefits for years to come.