Take A Path To A Healthier Lifestyle 21 Days At A Time

A while ago I heard a disturbing world trend on a health show. There are currently more obese people in the world than there are starving people. This finding is not a joke nor should it be taken lightly. This is not another country’s problem or your neighbors’ problem. This is our problem and your problem. While we, as a country, can whip ourselves into a panic and frenzy regarding the Swine Flu, turning out for flu shots in greater droves than Elvis impersonators on what would have been Elvis’ 75th birthday; we seem to think exercise is confined to walking to the TV to change the channel, and that’s only if the remote is broken.

Heart disease is one of the number one cause of death in the United States. Overweight and obesity issues cause an abundance of other health issues, which I’m quite certain most of us are familiar with. Unfortunately many of us choose to ignore the health problems related to being overweight or obese, until forced to face them in ourselves and/or family members and friends.

Some problems, as we all know, can be quite convoluted, complicated and difficult to solve. The “lack of fitness” epidemic in Americans (leading to all those other poor health epidemics) is an issue of a different nature. Preventing heart disease, adult on-set diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a sedentary life style and/or the lack of fitness (all off shoots of the same issue,) has a simple solution. Albeit a solution that is obviously difficult for many people to execute. Here is the simple solution:

• Eat a healthy breakfast everyday.
• Eat four to six small meals everyday.
• Stop eating processed, prepackaged and fast foods.
• Walk (or get some sort of heart healthy exercise) everyday.

As stated, this is the type of problem termed “simple but difficult.” Simple to solve, difficult to execute. I’m not a psychologist, therefore I’m not going to try to explore why eating healthy and exercising is difficult, more so for some than others. I make my living as a Professional Fitness Trainer and at times I even find these four steps difficult. Also, I’m not going to lie, if other people didn’t find these steps difficult I probably wouldn’t have a job! All I know is that once we get in the habit of overcoming the inertia, eating healthy, following the above 4 steps and simply stop sitting so much (!) a healthy life style becomes easier and easier.

A habit needs approximately 21 days to develop. Get your calendar out right now; begin the first day of your 21 days. Buy a notebook. Enter your goal(s) at the top of the first page and date it. Make your goals specific and achievable. Not, for example “I will lose weight by February,” but “I will lose 1-2 pounds a week for 3 weeks and then reevaluate.”

Record your age, height, weight and tape measure measurements. Pick a pair of pants, dress or skirt that you’d like to get back into. Try the clothing on and record a few written comments about the way it fits. Take a picture and tape it into your journal.

Log your healthy breakfast and your meals each day. On the opposite page log your walking or exercise time everyday. Weigh yourself only once a week, the same day and time each week, and record your weight.

Writing down our goals and maintaining a fitness journal makes us accountable to ourselves. To further commit, recruit a buddy, friend or family member and work together. Even if you cannot exercise together everyday, set aside one set time each week to review each other’s fitness journal. Have a red pen ready to mark and correct and some stars and stickers ready for rewards.

Speaking of reward, find a fun reward for yourself at the end of each week. You can possibly see a movie, buy new clothes, get a new hairstyle, new shoes, etc.

At the end of your 21 days, evaluate your progress. Review your strengths and weaknesses. Look honestly at where you can improve and congratulate yourself for the areas you did well in. If working with a buddy, go over these things together. Remember you can always “mean what you say, say what you mean but don’t say it mean!”

Try on your piece of clothing, record comments on how it fits, take a new picture and paste it in. Record your measurements and weight. Most importantly, begin your next 21 days.

It is fun and exciting to see our healthy lifestyle unfold. The days we feel as if we are dragging ourselves through our walk or workout will always pay off. In the short term, we always feel better after a workout. In the long term, we will be fitter and healthier with each new day. This month, the first month of the New Year and also of the new decade, we are presented with the opportunity to enhance our health and well being. Take advantage! I wish you luck on your fitness journey! Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns!