I believe the #1 reason we let our personal health slip, even when we know we shouldn’t, is a lack of a clear personal health philosophy. We create rules for ourselves with our relationships, in work, and many other aspects of our lives. But why don’t we do the same when it comes to our health?
Here’s what a healthy life philosophy is and some quick tips to help you create your very own!
What is a healthy life philosophy?
Essentially – a set of beliefs and rules that help you define what your healthy life looks like and stay on track with it.
Beliefs. It’s important for you to know what you believe in, when it comes to your health.
- Do you believe that being healthy results in being happier?
- Do you believe it is your responsibility to yourself and your friends and family to stay fit?
- Do you believe that by being healthy you’ll have a better life?
Rules. A simple set of rules help us make decisions.
We tend to “cave” when our physical desires outweigh our cognitive power. In other words, it’s easier to eat a bag of chips when we’re tired and have a low amount of will power. But, when we feel good and are able to think clearly, it’s much easier for us to say no to unhealthy food.
Having a set of clear and simple rules helps me prevent having to think through many decisions, by making them already predefined as simple yes or no answers. Here are some examples:
- Health Rule 1: I never drink more than 1 beer or cocktail per day. My exceptions are on family and friend’s birthdays and the 4th of July.
- Health Rule 2: I get some form of exercise in every day; even on Sundays! The minimum form of exercise is a .5 mile walk or at least 20 minutes of sustained, dedicated cardio or strength training.
- Health Rule 3: I journal about something related to my health every day, even if it’s just 1-2 sentences.
The Magic of Health Rules
Health rules can be very simple yet very powerful. In fact, being simple is what makes them powerful.
I recommend only starting with a few health rules at first, then you can add or adjust as needed. Here are a few explanations of my health rule examples:
- I made this rule for myself mainly because the empty calories of drinking add up and cause me to gain unwanted weight. What I also found, was that after more than one drink my decision making power decreases and I often continue to drink or eat something I regret the next day. On top of that, if I drink more than two drinks I’m almost guaranteed to get a hangover which means I’m less likely to be productive the following day. I’ll feel bad as a result and I’m more likely to eat bad foods. As you can tell, drinking can be a downward spiral for some people (like me). However, I do enjoy socializing and it can be hard not to have a drink with my peers. So, I limit it to one drink! I’ve found that, despite my fears, all of my friends have been supportive and some have even made a similar rule for themselves.
- This rule simply takes the “should I do xyz or should I not do xyz today?” off the table. I already know, no matter what, that I’m going to exercise. AND I actually plan my day around my exercise. That’s the first thing that goes in my calendar. I found that when I plan ahead I’m way more likely to fulfill it. To start this habit I even went as far as getting my clothes all laid out the night before so all I had to do when I woke up (I like to exercise early and feel that my main task for the day is complete) was put on my clothes and walk out the door. Notice that I didn’t set the bar too high for myself. The important thing here is that I build the habit of exercising every day, not that I burn a ton of calories or lift a bunch of weights. Pushing yourself comes naturally AFTER you get in the habit of daily exercise.
- Journaling simply keeps reminding me that my health is a priority. It also helps me track how far I’ve come – we often don’t notice this since we can’t see the small incremental changes each day. Looking back at previous journal entries I can see how I was feeling and how hard certain exercises were. Then I can see my recent entries where the same or similar exercises were done on my easy days. Writing and just putting in the time to think about our health on a daily basis forms a positive relationship with exercise and good health practices.
Creating Your Healthy Life Philosophy
You can create your healthy life philosophy by following this simple process:
- Brainstorm what your beliefs are about health
- Write down some ideas about what being healthy looks like and feels like for you
- Summarize your beliefs into a simple list or a personal mission statement
- Make a few simple rules for yourself to follow that are in line with your beliefs
- Take the smallest and simplest steps to start building habits that follow your rules and are in line with your beliefs