Originally authored 11/29/14
Have you given up on improving your physical health? Do you have a chronic condition or have told yourself you are too old? This blog is for you! I want to inspire you to improve your health regardless of the challenges in front of you.
Can I Still Improve My Health?
My quest for physical health began in earnest at age 51. I innocently volunteered at a marathon and was inspired to run a half marathon although I had not run in over 25 years. That led to several triathlons, which then let to a full marathon. As I have pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and beliefs of what a woman ‘my age’ can do, I have become more energetic, positive, confident, and free.
Watching the runners the day I volunteered made me believe that I could do something big too. I saw both men and women, young and old, big and small, some were decked out in ‘runners’ gear and one man wore a dingy white tee shirt and white calf socks. There was something I saw in their faces that I wanted and its name was determination. They each had a goal and they were prepared to go for it.
Change the Paradigm About Improving Your Health
The quest for improving your physical health does not have to involve a marathon but it does have to involve changing how you think about it. You have to believe that you can improve your health and identify what is holding you back. Embrace where you are today and have the courage to dream of something better. Look into the faces of those who inspire you and love yourself enough to go for your dreams.
Five Basic Ways to Improve Your Health
This is obvious to all of us, but it is necessary to eat the right food. Find the balance of food groups that work for you. Understand that this is a journey and it will not be figured out in one week or one month! My list of food goals include; limit red meat, get enough protein, drink enough water, limit alcohol consumption, balance my calorie intake with my activity level, eat fruits/vegetables to maintain regular digestive health, take vitamins/supplements to take care of any gaps I have between my body’s needs and my diet. Experiment with what is right for you and know that what you eat really will influence how you feel.
Sleep 7 – 8 hours/night, NO EXCEPTIONS! Our bodies (yes, even yours) need rest to be at their best. Everyone can choose to get enough sleep and it’s free! Love yourself enough to take care of this basic need (and it will be easier to love others, too, as you won’t be crabby!)
Get adequate exercise. What does that mean for you? You want to make sure and not injure yourself, rest, balance muscle groups (women need to do weight bearing exercises) and be regular with your exercise. Make it a habit and have fun! Ice skate, dance, bike ride with friends, go to a yoga class, walk with your neighbors, do an old Jane Fonda tape, whatever makes your heart happy! Change your mindset from ‘working out’ to having fun with friends, breaking out in a good sweat, increasing your energy level, and taking care of your mental health.
Don't Smoke . . . Period
First, you need to identify your stress. What are your triggers? Does it happen at a certain time of the day, of the week, of the month, of the year? Learn what the best method is for you to manage it. Examples of stress management include: behavioral tools, exercise, time management, owning a pet, having friends, giving of your time to others, laughing, playing, resting, having a vision/purpose for your life, loving, or being part of a larger purpose. Figuring out how to manage stress is a journey.
How Do I Start to Improve My Health?
It can be overwhelming to try to improve your physical health as there are so many ‘shoulds’ out there. (I should do this and I should do that! ) This week, take one step in the right direction such as:
I will drink one extra glass of water a day
I will take a walk around the neighborhood with a friend
I will read a blog about exercise (check)
I will keep track of my sleep
I will visit the doctor about my smoking habit to begin working at reducing the amount of tobacco going into my body
I will say ‘no’ without guilt to the next person asks me to help with a project that I don't have time for
Then, add another step the following week. There is no set recipe for improving your health. You will have to create your own.
Love yourself enough to take the first step towards improving your health.