“You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.”- Fred Smith (Founder of FedEx)
At this point, it should be common knowledge that obesity, poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise and high stress levels are the main lifestyle factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease or cancer.
And while some people will blame “genetics” and say there’s nothing they can do about it, the truth is a lot different. There’s a saying that “genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” There’s no doubt that some people are at a greater risk of developing cancer or heart disease because of their family medical history. It is for this reason that they need to give themselves every chance by pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
On the other hand, the fact that you’re fortunate enough to be born to a family with no history of these diseases does not mean that you are immune from them.
People are generally motivated towards pleasure or away from pain – the carrot and stick approach. So if you can’t motivate yourself by thinking of how good you’ll look and feel, maybe you’ll want to get started or stay on a fitness regime simply to avoid being 1 of the 17,500 people who die every year from serious, lifestyle-related disease.
But which programme works best? One of the more frustrating things for people who wish to lose weight, get fit or have a healthy lifestyle is the tons of seemingly contradictory advice out there: One minute you’re told to avoid alcohol and sweets, and then suddenly, research shows that a glass of wine and dark chocolate can have positive health benefits!
Some people advocate lots of aerobic work while many trainers will tell you to avoid it like the plague. And that’s why there are thousands of diet books, supplements and training programmes out there. Because at some point each and every one of them has worked for somebody.
So here are some tips to help you stay on track on your journey to health and fitness:
- Be Patient: Most exercise and nutrition programmes that have a sound, scientific basis will work quite well if they’re followed as prescribed. Unfortunately, some patience is required because they usually take a little longer to show results than the quick-fix “lose 2 stone in 2 weeks” scams. And they’re a lot better for your long-term health. As a general guideline, if it sounds too good – or too easy- to be true, it probably is.
- Educate Yourself: By educating yourself through reputable websites, publications or even some coaching sessions from a qualified trainer, you can put in place a fitness regime that allows you to improve your quality of life.
- Measure and Record: The only way you’ll know if something is actually working for you is if you keep a record of your progress. This involves keeping a detailed food and training diary and having regular weigh-ins and/or medical check-ups. If your programme isn’t getting the desired results, then change it. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Take Responsibility: One thing you must always remember is that your health is your responsibility. The way that you treat your body and mind will ultimately dictate your state of health for the rest of your life. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction.
In Biblical terms we’re told that you reap what you sow, while in other traditions it’s known as Karma. As a rule, people who exercise regularly and eat nutritious foods tend to live longer, healthier lives, while those that don’t are more prone to developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
We cannot control all aspects of our lives but we can control how we think, what we eat and how often we move. By controlling these areas we influence our mental and physical health to a huge degree. If your health or fitness is not as you would like it to be, now is probably a good time to start making changes.