There are people who spend just about every waking moment working on their health. Yoga masters come to mind. They are truly amazing examples of vibrant health. Many of them live to be very, very old, and enjoy great health right up to the end of their lives.
But most of us do not wish to spend all of our time working on our health. Nor would this be practical for most of us – we would have no free time left to spend with our families, to earn our livings, or even to have some fun.
Each month I receive at least 5 offers for some “critical” health thing or another that I “must” do. I get offers for this or that kind of “life-saving” screening; I get trial offers for the current best superfood in the world, for a new-fangled exercise program that is better than all the others combined, and so on. If I were to embrace all these health offers I would end up with no time for the rest of my life, and I would be spending thousands of dollars each month on my health.
I am not alone in being bombarded with all this “health input”. Just this past week several of my newer clients told me that they were concerned about doing it all perfectly and not missing anything. And layered under the questions were little clouds of guilt because they might be deviating from their ideal health plan.
Their concerns prompted me to explain my approach and the principles behind it. Hence this blog post:
In managing my own health I strive for balance. This seems to be a requirement in most areas of life, and health is certainly no exception. I want to invest a reasonable amount of time, effort and money in my own health, being careful to get the best results that I can for my investment. I want to leave plenty of time and resources free for the other things in my life that are important to me.
I start by identifying the health priorities that apply to me. For example, I have some food allergies, so there are foods I must avoid. Then my body seems to need a certain, minimum amount of physical activity for me to feel good and to sleep well. Some people seem to be able to eat a fair amount of sugar and still feel well and remain healthy. I am not among that group, so I need to go to limit my sugars. Then there are certain foods and supplements that I seem to need. For example, if I go for very long without enough omega 3 oil, my joints can begin to ache and my energy level becomes uneven. I also need to supplement my reproductive hormones or they go out of balance. And so on.
In terms of time spent caring for my particular body, I notice that I tend to have very good natural strength, but not good flexibility. So I do not need to spend any time on strengthening exercises, but I do need to spend time maintaining my flexibility. These are just some examples of the priorities that I have identified as applying to my own health.
I do need to spend some time maintaining my aerobic fitness. Because I use Dr. Al Sears’ remarkably efficient and effective P.A.C.E. system I can maintain my aerobic fitness in under 2 hours per week. That sounds astonishing, but I assure you that it is true. Look for my blog about P.A.C.E. within the next few days. It is a real breakthrough, especially for those who do not like to spend 6 or more hours a week in the gym.
The overall approach that I follow is to identify my health priorities, devise practical ways to address them, being careful to be realistic. I avoid making promises to myself that I am not likely to keep. Breaking such promises to myself undermines my self-confidence, sabotages my will and creates stress and other emotional and even physical problems.
I also avoid being overly fanatical, preferring “health guidelines” to “health rules”. For example, although I do not do it often, I occasionally enjoy a small amount of some dessert that I really like. I do not do this often, nor do I indulge in large quantities. And when I do enjoy such treats, I make sure they are the best quality I can find, and I squeeze all the joy I can out of the experience.
Lastly, I avoid guilt like the plague. Guilt has got to be one of the most corrosive emotions common to the human experience. I guess if I were to commit some heinous act, it would serve a purpose for me to feel guilty. Anticipating the guilt might discourage me from committing the act in the first place. And experiencing the guilt would deter me from repeating it. Other than that, I think guilt is primarily a highly destructive force in the Universe. I feel the same way about shame.
So if I fall off the wagon, I don’t beat myself up for it. I just figure out the appropriate corrections and get on with enjoying my life.
In summary, here’s what I do:
1. I determine my health priorities.
2. I find the best strategies and practices to address them.
3. I do my best to follow the practices in my day-to-day life.
4. I evaluate my progress and results and make course corrections and adjustments.
5. Periodically I consult an expert health colleague to get an outside point of view, and to learn of new breakthroughs.
6. I review my health priorities to see if they have changed or need adjustment.
Notice the distinction between 1 and 2, above. In 1, I refer to “health priorities”. These are the results that I want. For example, increased fitness or eliminating joint pain, better sleep, etc. are results. In point 2, I am identifying the strategies, techniques or practices, that I will use to achieve my priority results. For example, the P.A.C.E. program is a system for increasing my aerobic and overall fitness. It is not a health priority. Rather, it is a practice for achieving one of my health priorities.
It will be helpful to keep this distinction in mind when you make your health list.
Most importantly, I enjoy each day, finding as many reasons as I can to appreciate this marvelous gift called life.
To your wonderful health and joy!