What does the term healthy lifestyle mean to you?
Is it an empty buzz word that no longer makes an impression on you? Or does it leave you with guilt feelings because you are not fulfilling society's expectations?
I want to tell you that living a healthy lifestyle has more to do with your own needs and desires than the external prescriptions and pressures from the media and the medical fraternity. You have to look at your health from the inside out.
Here is why:
During Healthy Lifestyles Month we are bombarded with a myriad of tips and guidelines from the three Ms:
We are told to eat healthily, sleep more, manage our stress levels to avoid high blood pressure.
We are encouraged to do more exercise, to stop smoking, drink more water etc. etc. etc.
And although these guidelines all good ones, they are so broad that we merely shake our heads in agreement and promptly forget about it. We seldom get to the point of planning, never mind, implementing any real and measureable steps to accomplish it.
I want to suggest that instead of consulting the Internet and health magazines for ‘how to’s’, we take our time to first establish what it is we are really talking about when we think of a healthy lifestyle.
Let us look at wellness from the inside out, from the vantage point of our own health philosophy rather than being told by others what a healthy lifestyle should mean to us.
A healthy lifestyle can take many forms, hence the use of the plural in the Department of Health’s Healthy Lifestyles Month. It is a very personal quest and one that we need to define for ourselves through a process of active analysis.
If we are going to put a sustainable plan into action and if we are going to see it through, we have to personalise it to suit our temperament and our lifestyle.
We each have our own set of beliefs about wellness that underpin the way we view ourselves, our state of health , our body-mind image and how we match up to the current definition of a healthy lifestyle as promoted by the health care fraternity and the media.
Just because the magazine illustrates a healthy lifestyle with photographs of gym-going, organic food eating people, it doesn’t mean that particular representation applies to all of us.
Wellness for me for example includes walking on the beach and taking an afternoon nap.
Developing a sustainable healthy lifestyle is not so very different from developing a business strategy plan.
Well known author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant Simon Sinek , wanted to know why some companies and people achieve objectives that seems impossible and others do not?
His conclusion? It is all about WHY you are doing something and not only about what you are doing.
And I think this applies to a personal project as much as it does to a business.
To lead a meaningful and fulfilling life through conscious and self-directed behaviours, focused upon living at one’s fullest potential, starts with discovering your WHY first.
Why do I say that?
Well, as the World Health Organisation says, a healthy lifestyle is more than just the absence of disease.
It is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and it affects all aspects of our lives – our emotional and psychological health, physical health, environmental health, social relationships, mental health, financial health and occupational health.
Take a few minutes to answer these questions:
Do the answers reflect your true needs or are they maybe a regurgitation of what you have read or heard.
Have you spoken with your own voice or did you list things you think you ought to do?
The beliefs we have about what health is and what our own state of health looks like, influence our lifestyle choices, our motivation, the goals we set for ourselves but also how confident we are that we will actually reach our wellness goals.
Yes, a lot of what we read is really informative and appropriate, even in some instances non-negotiable like stopping smoking but it is also important to remember that they are guidelines for the general public, a catalogue of the WHAT things you can do.
WHAT? vs WHY?
Before you start making lists of WHAT you need to do to be healthy and HOW you are going to achieve this, figure out WHY you want to adjust your lifestyle.
Instead of jumping in your car to join the gym and before you rush off to buy running shoes and every supplement in the health shop, take time to get to the bottom of this desire you have to change your lifestyle.
Sinek describes the WHY statement as giving you clarity, meaning and direction.
It is a filter through which you can make decisions, every day, to bring your cause to life.
Be clear about WHY you include or exclude certain things from your life?
Ask yourself, are the activities you choose to participate in / the food you eat / the thoughts you think / the number of hours you sleep making you feeling well or are you doing it because you think you ought to? Or have you not even really thought about it.
If you need help in bringing your health cause to life, see what Simon Sinek has to say and apply it to your plan for a healthy lifestyle.
I am Erika Kruger, self-care skills trainer & mentor. I am here for every person who realises that their wellbeing is THEIR business.