When was the last time you felt good? How about amazing? When was the last time you felt your absolute healthiest? And what is your definition of “healthy,” anyway?
Thinking back, I felt fantastic about a decade ago. Sure, I was younger. But many of my chronic health issues have followed me through several decades, so the age factor is lower on my list of why’s. During that time, I was physically the strongest that I’d ever been. I was practicing Kung Fu and yoga several times a week. I was eating a vegetarian diet, sleeping regularly, and hiking often.
Those memories have helped me form the definition of what’s healthy for my body. When I’m in my optimal state, my blood pressure is within happier ranges, my pain levels are lower, my mind is clearer, and I have enough energy to go about my day and not totally collapse in bed at night.
What makes up your version of vibrant health?
Once we determine what we want our health to look like, then we can easily map out the steps to get from here to there.
For example, to lower my blood pressure I can up my cardio workouts to multiple times a week. I can reduce my stress – which is obviously easier said than done sometimes. This stress-reduction goal is another one I can reverse engineer, enabling me to get from crazed to Zen. I can also add onto my meditation and mindful breathing sessions to help bring me into a more balanced physical and mental place.
If I want to cultivate better sleep habits, then I need to put aside my screens way earlier in the evening, dim the lights as I’m getting ready for bed, and not eat after 7p. Being a recovering night owl, I’m super mindful of doing what I can to turn my lights off by 11p so I don’t gain a second wind late at night. I also stop drinking liquids about an hour before snuggling into my pillow, so my dreams aren’t interrupted by a full bladder.
These are just a couple of ways I can be more intentional with my health.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have the tendency to jump full on into new lifestyle habits, taking on everything at one time. Often it ends up being too much, and I ditch the whole thing because I’m overwhelmed by too many changes and to do’s.
When my youngest son was little, he’d frequently get overwhelmed by his schoolwork (yeah, science project, I’m talking about you). I reminded him of the saying, “What’s the best way to eat an elephant?” (Gross, I know, but stick with me). The answer? “One bite at a time.” Now, when I want to make bigger shifts in my lifestyle — and have them actually integrate into my life — I take it slower.
So if you’re looking to build up your strength levels, start slowly. Walk around your block a few times a week. Add in a strength-building class, then continue adding things bit by bit as your strength increases and you’ve turned these new tasks into your new routine.
If you’re wanting to stop snacking on junk at night, buy some healthier versions of the things you like. Then down the road, find even healthier versions of those. After that, try lowering the amount you consume, and eventually ditch the habit altogether.
Remember: You don’t have to be obsessive about making these changes. Being intentional with your health is the first step on your path to wellness.