Healing your body-mind-soul requires healthy lifestyle choices that can become healthy habits, if you make small changes at a time.
’The body too has its rights; and it will have them: they cannot be trampled on without peril. The body ought to be the soul's best friend. Many good men however have neglected to make it such: so it has become a fiend and has plagued them.’ - Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
It seems to me like the cyber sphere can’t get enough of topics surrounding the theme of healthy lifestyle habits. I thought there was such an abundance of information on healthy eating, fitness, wellness and so forth, but apparently we just can’t get enough of the subject. It seems we must be told over and over again, the same information but perhaps told in different ways.
Or perhaps the reason I don’t get it is because healthy lifestyle habits are so ingrained in me, so much a part of myself already, that I hardly think of it anymore. I actually enjoy eating fruits and vegetables, and miss them if I don’t get them. I actually love to climb to the top of a Colorado mountain and can’t wait for mountain climbing season to begin! I actually feel my best and I am my most creative when I go to bed at 9 pm and get up at 5 am. Yes, you heard me right - 9 pm!
Whatever the reason, you need to fasten your body-mind-soul seat belts because here I go ~ explaining what a healthy lifestyle means to me.
In my usual twist, I bring in the forgotten body-mind connection, and I will ask you what do you feel when you hear or say the word, ‘habit?’ Think about it for a moment . . .
Or I should better ask, what does your body feel when you hear or say the word ‘habit?’ Do you get all warm and fuzzy at the sound of the word, or does your stomach literally cringe? Did you hold your breath? Are healthy lifestyle habits yet another thing that you have to strive for in your life already filled with chronic stress? Is a healthy lifestyle habit something you strive for because you know you should even though you dread the thought of it? Do you first think of a negative habit when you think of the word? Is this because your habits are all negative, or that you are a negative person?
How can you create more healthy lifestyle habits if you view the whole concept of health as work, as something for which you have an aversion? Why are things like exercise, getting plenty of sleep and healthy eating aversions to a lot of folks? Why is it that our intuition has gone by the wayside and we give into the stress and the bad habits that ‘comfort us’ just for the moment? We can’t we be more intuitive and integrate our bodies into the body-mind-soul equation? Why do we choose to abuse our bodies?
Sandia Mountains, NM from the La Luz Trail
Lets look at the opposite end of the spectrum. A lot of people go to the healthy lifestyle habits extreme and do things like cleanse too often, have an inordinate fear of germs, take too many vitamins and magic health pills. Are these behaviors any better than taking too many pharmaceuticals in search of a magic pill for happiness and health?
I am also going to step out on a limb here and say that 'athletes' that live for the exercise hamster wheel, i.e. those who over-train may be just as unhealthy as those who choose sedentary, potato-chip lifestyles. I read blog after blog of normal, average people whose only goal is to run as many miles and as many marathons as possible. They push through unbelievable knee pain, unbelievable iliotibial band pain, shin splints and the list goes on…. Is this health?
Why do they choose to do this? Is it for the exercise high? Is it for the bragging rights? Does constant training increase their value and meaning in life? Is it to achieve the goal for the sake of the goal? Do they believe that chronic stress on the muscles and tendons is healthy?
Or are they setting themselves up to have worn out bodies by the time they are 50? Are tendon repairs, knee replacements and hip replacements in their future? Are these ‘healthy lifestyle habits’ leading them to some ultimate fitness or to a sedentary lifestyle when their bodies no longer obey?
I suspect that a lot of over-trainers are doing so as a form of exercise bulimia. In other words a person runs, or ‘trains’ constantly so they can eat whatever they want. If they eat too much one day, they have to run just that much farther. I notice that a lot of runner’s blogs focus a lot on food and eating. It seems to be their preoccupation when they’re not running. Or is the over-exercise another form of altered body image, in which you can never be thin enough, or fit enough or fast enough? Why do certain people place such expectations on themselves?
Or what about the muscle-bound body builder who is functionally immobile due to tight, shortened muscles from over-training, but has the biggest muscles in the gym? Does this depict a healthy lifestyle habit?
When you over-train, do you trigger the stress hormone, cortisol, that sets your body up for the constant strain and tension, the readiness for the flight or fight? The body’s constant exposure to this stress hormone never allows the recovery needed to heal. I believe that chronic stress in the over trainer is a chronic stress of physical origin which is no healthier than the chronic stress of mental origin that we already know so much about. To me, this is not a balanced, healthy lifestyle. The balance of the body-mind-soul is skewed toward the body.
It is much better to do meditative movements like yoga and other more intuitive movements that make exercising mindful instead of hurtful.
Remember, what you do to the body, you do to the mind and the soul. What you do to the mind, you do to the body and the soul and so on. The body, mind and soul are one.
So, I would ask, when does the quest for health become extreme? Where do you find the fine line of balance for your life? When are healthy lifestyle habits really and truly healthy?
The only way I can answer these questions at least for myself, is to go inside myself for the answers. If you learn to trust your own body and its messages and trust your body intuition, you will find the answers. But in order to find the answers, you must take the time to listen. You can develop this body intuition and learn to love yourself more. You must take the time to love and nourish yourself and take the time that is needed to care for yourself and give yourself the self-love that you were intended to have.
Double Bladderpod Wildflower
When you listen to your body and hear when it is in pain and adjust your training accordingly, you can be healthy. If you listen to your body and how it feels after you binge on beer and wings, you might think twice about it the next time. Is the lethargy from overindulging what you really want on a regular basis? Do you really want to get up every morning and cough your lungs out? Does your body tell you that this is in your best interest?
What we do know about health from what research shows us that may lead us to health, is that you need to develop the following healthy lifestyle habits (in no specific order or priority) in order to have a healthy lifestyle:
In order for healthy lifestyle changes to become healthy lifestyle habits, you must make them become something that you no longer have to think about, but something that becomes an unconscious process, or a part of you.
And the biggest key to it all: you must enjoy what it is you are doing, to make it become part of you life. In order to enjoy the activity you must believe that it will do your body-mind-soul good. You must feel good after the activity is done. It must be about more than just comforting yourself in the moment with that donut or that cigarette, but then regretting what you did later. It must be about feeling really good about your action in that moment, AND for minutes and for hours after the activity. You must really feel good about the activity from then and forever on! This is how to integrate your whole body and mind into the activity that is now part of you and your soul! It becomes part of your very core, your inner self and your inner beliefs.
If you make the changes toward your healthy lifestyle habits in very small steps, and add just one small step at a time, you can succeed. As you incorporate each very small step into your routine, one at a time, then each little action adds up over time to become one big action.
Make a master plan. I know some people who quit smoking in one day. Just made up their minds and did it. Not all can do this. In fact, most smokers require at least 3 attempts before they can quit.
Whatever your healthy goal is, please think about it and decide what is realistic for you. If it takes you a year to quit smoking, so what? If you can step down your cigarettes by one a day and hold that for 2 weeks, maybe you can quit in 20 weeks or more? Even if you only gave up one cigarette a day, would you be healthier? Would you be one step closer to being smoke free?
Take these small steps, get help, or join groups for support. Seek out your companies wellness programs. A lot of companies have them. Write your ultimate goal down and then break it down into manageable steps for you.
Before you know it, you’ll feel great about that one-hour walk in the warm sunshine that you did last Saturday, that lifted your mood and made you feel great! And it all started with a pedometer that you purchased and started watching how many steps you did in a day. You started out only doing 1000 steps (about a half of a mile) but made a decision for yourself and stuck to it. You decided your goal was to do 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles), for at least 5 days a week, or for a weekly total of 50,000 steps. You thought you could increase this by 1000 (1/2 mile) steps a day for each coming week. After 3 weeks you were up to 3000 steps a day and starting to notice a change in your energy level.
You took your dog with you and soon you loved seeing how much he loved the walk. Before you knew it, 6 weeks later you were loving the walks and looked forward to them. You were up to 6000 steps a day. Then, with parking at the far end of every parking lot, taking a short pick-me up walk on your lunch break and a long joyful walk in the evening, you were at an average of 10,000 steps, 5 days a week. It only took you 10 weeks to get there. And it all started with the simple 1000 steps a day, the determination to make a change in your life for health and the positive belief that you deserved it!
Try adding one vegetable a day to your diet for a week or two. Then add a second on the second week. Try a new vegetable along the way, and initially to learn to like the vegetable. Cook it with a cheese sauce or butter until you get used to the new taste. Slowly, over the weeks wean off the flavorings until you like the new vegetable. Steam the vegetable for even more health. Six months later you may just love the new vegetable and what it is doing for your health!
To enjoy a diet full of life enhancing nutrients you will need to combine fruits and vegetables with whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Learn all you can about what vegetables can do for you, which ones are packed with the best nutrients and which ones have a lower glycemic index. Read my article on healthy eating.
Learn to eat more intuitively. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Splurge once in a while. Understand that healthy eating is a process that can be done over time, not all at once, or you will feel punished instead of feeling healthy. If you need to lose weight see my vision of healthy weight loss.
If you want to get up earlier to exercise or meditate, set your alarm just 10 minutes earlier for the first week. The next week make it 10 minutes more. If you want to become an early riser, it will do you no good if you don’t go to bed 10 minutes earlier as well. Or, if it suits you better, go to bed 10 minutes later and do your meditation/prayers then. Build this time up until you have YOU time for at least 30 minutes every day. This healthy lifestyle habit could be achieved in just 3 weeks.
Create an affirmation for each of your healthy lifestyle goals, like ’I am 130 pounds,’ 'I meditate every day,' ‘I am a non smoker,’ ‘I make healthy lifestyle choices,’ ‘I believe in myself and have great health!’ ‘I am a walker and I walk 10,000 steps a day,’ and so forth. Write the affirmation on a sticky note and paste it on your mirror where you can see it and say it every day.
To summarize how to start developing a healthy lifestyle:
May your path to healing your body-mind-soul begin with your new commitment to healthy lifestyle habits! Blessings to you on your journey.