I write about all sorts of things that come up in my coaching—love, relationships, time management, character traits. But today, I want to address a subject that is possibly the most important concern (or should be) for me, my family and my community: the state of your body during your time on earth (and how your bad habits might be holding you back).
My dear friend and colleague, Dr. Mark Hyman, would no doubt agree. A nine-time No. 1 New York Times best-selling author and an internationally recognized leader in the field of functional medicine, it has been Hyman’s mission to educate people on the state of health in this country and advocate for better practices, both personal and societal. His message carries gravitas: We are currently suffering at the hands of a food system that does not serve us, and every aspect of our lives is affected when we neglect our bodies and harm our health.
That’s a scary truth, and one that many people have yet to come to grips with. Day in and day out, we make bad food choices, avoid exercise, get coffee’d up in the morning, have a drink to relax at night, stress out about minor things and run our bodies into the ground—until we get sick and wonder why.
Because your health is the thing that changes everything else.
It always amazes me how clueless even the smartest person can be about this basic human need. I have clients—high-level business men who manage millions of dollars every day—who literally don’t know what to eat for breakfast, and their business suffers as a result of their fatigue. Other clients come to me because they’ve given up on finding love; they’re self-conscious about the extra 15 pounds and afraid of rejection. What I really see are people who have listened to their inner dialogue instead of the voice of their highest ideals. Essentially, they chose the cookie because they were afraid to go for what they really wanted.
For me, nothing is more inspiring than witnessing new clients take on their health and change their whole life through it. When I see people—especially those who have never really learned how to take care of their health—really confront the underlying issues of their health and make big lifestyle changes to address them, it’s almost as if they’re not the same people anymore. They’ve evolved, changed states; their perspective is different. They have different goals and dreams. They have a new life.
What’s getting in the way?
There’s an air of cynicism a lot of people give off when they talk about their relationship with their bodies or their health. With a collective sigh, I hear people shrug off simple advice by claiming, “It sounds unrealistic. I could never do it. Do you even know how busy I am?” As if the clock running out is the reason they are having scones for breakfast. I know people who go from doctor to doctor with chronic problems, without ever once considering what would happen if they stopped having five coffees a day, skipping lunch and working late on weekends. The narrative I hear so often about people’s health is riddled with long historical explanations of things both within and beyond their control—but the overall vision of their health is something that “just is.” As in, “There’s nothing I can do.”
People walk around like they don’t have power over their body. Granted, there are instances you don’t: hereditary illnesses, accidents, circumstances. (And in these cases, it’s crucial that you act in accordance with your needs!) But for a large part, when it comes to your personal health, there are instances you do have power over: your food choices, your exercise habits, your sleeping patterns, your daily rituals. And maximizing those areas in your life will ignite other areas to follow suit. Believe it and watch it happen.
It’s never too late. It’s never not shocking. And it’s never not inspirational.
We all know people who are walking success stories of a major health change. And although they’ll tell you it was the best decision they ever made for themselves, they’ll all agree that it was also the biggest challenge they faced. Why?
There’s an inner brat running your diet. There’s a “weather reporter” telling you that “healthy” is too expensive and complicated. There’s an inner “chicken” who’s afraid to fail again, afraid to go to the gym, afraid to face the facts—that it’s all on you, baby!
Breaking habits—especially ones as socially, emotionally and physiologically ingrained in us as food and diet—often takes a fair amount kicking and screaming to get the point across. When I talk clients through this process, I swear they sound like a kid throwing a tantrum. “I don’t wanna!” “It’s too hard!” “It sounds scary!” But I don’t give into that temper tantrum, and I don’t give up, so neither do they. It’s “too hard” up until the moment you step onto the scale and see real results, or you wake up one day without chronic pain, or when an illness that was impacting the quality of your life suddenly disappears and you’re free!
That’s what keeping a health promise brings you.
Is it time for you to make a promise to yourself? Can you relate to the examples of negative inner dialogues I mentioned? As a test, pay close attention to your inner dialogue next time you find yourself going for that fourth glass of wine at dinner, or ordering cake for dessert, or skipping lunch at work, or whatever it is that you secretly, subconsciously know you’re guilty of when it comes to caring for your health. What you hear yourself saying to yourself might give you a big wake-up call.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on your health. Enlighten yourself to the power you have over your body and food choices. I swear pride tastes better.
This post originally appeared on HandelGroup.com.
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Photo credit: Pablo Merchan Montes, Unsplash