Why is our health our greatest challenge? As a society we have built monuments, overcome adversity, learned to create fire and the wheel - yet our health remains this puzzle we are trying to put together upside down. Wouldn't it be great if doing things to improve our well being we did on a daily basis, without thinking about it? Just like brushing our teeth. How many wake up in the morning and think "I need to shower, get dressed and brush my teeth". I'm horrible with numbers, but my guess is that few of us actually run through that process in our heads. It is unconscious activity.
So let's dumb this down for lack of better words. Let's make it simple and start with healthy additions that we can do daily without stressing over them! The UK Health Behavioral Research Centre came out with a study in 2009 that found it takes on average 66 days for people to perform a new behavior, automatically. No wonder potty training is so hard! If you decide today to add one healthy behavior to your routines - you will have to be conscious of this behavior for two more months before you just do it without thinking! With that, I challenge you to do this. Add one extra fruit and vegetable, add two more cups of water a day, add something simple! If you make a conscious effort to add something easily achievable to your routines for 66 days, it will be habit. You will be on your way to a healthier life!
Seem too good to be true? The catch is a lot of us have multiple lifestyle demons. We need to drink more water, eat more fruits and vegetables, get more activity, regulate our stress, take more time for ourselves, etc. If we add too many things at once, we get overwhelmed and quit.
As a child I spent more time avoiding healthy food than taking the time to try it. My mother can vouch for this. As a small child peas were my demon. Although we may only have “faced” peas once a week, I felt like the dreaded pea was chasing me each time I was called for dinner. I loathed them and fled from their consumption. I used to spit my peas in my napkin (I thought no one saw me), and I attempted to get the dog to eat them! He wasn’t buying it either. They still aren’t my favorite veggie but I have learned how to add them into a healthy recipe and actually enjoy them.
I have learned and recognize the importance of getting your children to eat their vegetables. Tastes will change over the years, and I have learned to love a variety of vegetables. What's my trick? TRY THEM! Find ways to grill or sauté in healthy fashions. I started with zucchini, moved into spinach, and have a new love for mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli and more! Retraining your brain and body to crave something other than sugars and complex carbohydrates works if you take the 66 day approach and work to make it a habit.
We can thank Andrew Carnegie for putting it in perspective. “Anything in life worth having, is worth working for”. Health is a process that happens over time. You won’t wake up one morning and be healthy, but you can wake up tomorrow and make healthier choices. You have the choice to improve your life by making small changes, and letting those changes become habits. It’s never too late to turn your health around, and remember; even the smallest positive change, is a change in the right direction.
Lifestyle Tip: Add small things into your routine several at a time and don’t add more until the first items become a habit. I tape a paper on my bathroom mirror that might say something like this:
1.) AM; Drink 16 ounces of water ________________
2.) Protein Shake ________________
3.) 30 Minutes of Cardio ________________
4.) Supplements (vitamins) ________________
5.) Add fresh veggie for lunch ________________
I “dumb down” the changes I want to make by making a list that stares me in the face every morning while I brush my teeth. I only have myself to be accountable to but I know that following through with simple additions will build a lifetime of healthy habits.