For many people, it takes a health crisis to wake them up to make changes to their lifestyle choices. But by this time, those health problems may be incredibly challenging to address. Some may even be irreversible, with only improvements, not a cure, possible.
A far better approach that often gets forgotten is prevention. What you do now paves the way for your health and wellbeing into your future.
Imagine your destiny is like a set of parallel lines. Envisage railway tracks if you like, although they are going to be railway tracks that can cross the ocean! These railway tracks are leaving the top of South America and are on a direct path heading south to Chile.
If you continue to make the choices you make today, you will end up at that destination.
Let the left railway track represent your life with no changes and your right track represent your life with some subtle, sustained changes that you make to your choices.
The compounding effect of making small incremental changes sees your new destiny initially shifting by one degree. Yet continue that new track out into the future and the left and right tracks will be metres apart. By changing your relationship with food, by addressing how you eat, drink, move, think, breathe, believe and/or perceive, your right track (your new destiny) ends up in a completely new destination than where your left (old-paradigm) track would end up.
Small, sustained incremental change can make an enormous difference to your quality of life and long term sustainable, excellent health.
Here are some small changes you can make today to help prevent the onset of health challenges in the future.
Eat more whole real foods
I know I rabbit on about this a lot but it’s incredible how well the body responds when we nourish it with the nutrients it needs to thrive! You don’t have to eat perfectly, it’s not a case of all or nothing – each moment is another opportunity to nourish yourself. Sometimes you might choose not to and that’s okay. Remember that it’s what we do most of the time that comprises our health, not what we do occasionally. So focus on eating whole real foods, with an emphasis on loads of colourful plants, but give yourself permission to eat foods that may be less nourishing occasionally as well.
Reduce your intake of caffeine
Only you know if you consume more caffeine than your body can handle. For some, it takes removing caffeine altogether to identify if it is impacting on their wellbeing. It’s not until we stop drinking it that we can feel the difference in our sense of calm, our energy consistency, our busy mind or our anxious feelings. If you suspect your body is already feeling stressed, consider your intake of caffeine. Cut back to one per day or eliminate it for a period of time and notice the difference in your body. It doesn’t have to be a forever decision, just give yourself some time to identify how your body is responding to this powerful stimulant.
Address those niggling symptoms
If you’re experiencing digestive complaints or bloating, PMS or menopausal symptoms, recurring headaches or general fatigue this is your body trying to communicate to you that something isn’t right. These symptoms are not normal; they’re not a side effect of modern living – they’re a sign that something within our body needs to be addressed. Investigate them, bring curiosity to each symptom and begin to take notice of what’s happening when they appear for you. For some of you, seeking professional advice may be of benefit. Others still may know deep down what needs to change and are just avoiding it. The reality is, if you don’t address these symptoms now, they’re most likely to only get louder and more challenging. Prioritise your own health and take action today.
Notice I didn’t say exercise? While of course, exercise counts as movement, science is now telling us that the cumulative effect of sitting throughout the day—even if we do spend 30 minutes exercising—almost outweighs the benefits we might get from those 30 minutes. Movement is vitally important to our health and our experience of energy. Yet far too many people avoid it. We drive around the carpark looking for the closest park even though there are plenty along the far end, we stop on travellators instead of walking, take the elevator instead of the stairs, push a trolley instead of carrying a handful of groceries. Get up throughout your day (a few minutes every hour) and look for opportunities to increase your movement instead of reducing it.
Be gentle with yourself
Too many people are their own worst critic. We speak to ourselves in ways we would never speak to other people, saying the unkindest of things inside our own head. What kind of internal environment do you think this breeds? Our internal dialogue has a powerful impact on our biochemistry and drives emotional responses that affect the choices we make on a daily basis. Be so gentle with yourself. Bring curiosity to your choices and behaviours instead of judgement. You open to learning something when you are curious and block this possibility when you judge. Observe the language you use inside your own head and make a concerted effort to eliminate harsh and critical judgements.