There are a lot of secrets to a long and healthy life; some common sense and some not so much. Look across the internet and within the pages of fitness and health magazines and you will see everything from Amazonian superfruits to bizarre yoga poses being touted as that month’s super-duper secret that you have been missing out on! It is that promise, that whatever the flavor of the month exercise or food is the missing ingredient in your life, that hooks you in and gets you to buy whatever product is being sold. It is human nature to feel as though a simple fix is all you need. (But that’s a topic for another day!)
The reality is though, while all those things very well may help you, none can compare to this one simple truth that trumps all else. Are you ready for it? The secret to a healthy life? Because you might be surprised at the knowledge I am about to drop on you!
(If you read the article title, not really though… I suck at surprises.)
The key to a long, healthy life is this.
I know you may be scratching your head, so rather than just imparting that wisdom on you, dropping the microphone and walking off stage like some sort of MC Buddhist I will explain.
Fitness, and healthy life habits, thrive on consistency. The longer you do something that has a positive effect, the greater the long-term benefit it will have on you. Makes sense right? One healthy meal will probably do nothing in the face of years of fast food inhalation, but 6 months of healthy eating? You would expect to see a change, right? Of course.
The problem everyone runs into is maintaining that consistency. The entire diet industry thrives on it (read some of my angry thoughts on that topic), gyms and fitness centers expect it from their members and magazines are always plastered with headlines catering to people who have fallen off the proverbial wagon. The fact is that consistency is a by-product of momentum.
Anything worthwhile in life takes effort, and 99% of the time the most effort is expended at the beginning of the endeavor. Whether you are starting a business, undertaking a degree in higher education, participating in a new sport, learning a new language or trying to get in better shape. When you are starting from a stand still it takes a lot of energy to get moving, but once you get moving the level of effort required to maintain your speed drops considerably. (I am sure that there is some really easy physics equation to explain all this, but math and science aren’t among my nerdly qualities…)
The problem that most people have is that they view fitness as having a start and end date. Instead of telling themselves that they want to be healthy for life, and searing that mindset into their brain, they tell themselves they want to look better or get ready for bathing suit season. So once they achieve a modicum of success they take their foot off the proverbial gas pedal and they start slowing down. What this does is create a constant need to start building momentum again once those results start to fade away.
This is where most people break. It takes time to see results, with anything you invest time and energy in, so staying motivated to build the necessary momentum is the hard part. Once you get moving though, things will start to fall in place… I promise. What I can’t promise you though is that life won’t throw you a never-ending series of curveballs. A non-stop parade of potential excuses just waiting to distract you and drag you down; reducing your momentum back to nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.
Make fitness and healthy living part of who you are, not something you do.
Remember we are trying to live a healthy life, not a healthy three months (or whatever artificial timeframe you want to be in shape for), so we need to turn being fit and healthy into a habit. I know it isn’t easy, but if I can do it anyone can (I give some spectacular tips on how to change your habits right here)! I want you to strive to ingrain acts of fitness into your daily routine so you don’t even think about it.
In book XV of the Epistulae Heroides (“Letters of Heroines” written circa 20 B.C.; not all heroes have to wear spandex and capes you know), the poet Ovid left us with this nugget of wisdom – “Abeunt studia in mores“. Translated this can be read as “Practices passionately pursued become habits.” That really sums it up! No matter what the undertaking, if you pursue it with desire and build that momentum it will naturally become a part of you. Something you just do. Once you establish momentum for yourself and turn your fitness and health goals into actual habits you will have cracked the secret to a healthy life. All that is left then is to constantly shaking things up and try new methods; the place in your life is already there and momentum is carrying you along, so swapping out parts of your diet and/or aspects of your workout routines becomes simple!
I am not saying that you should be exercising no matter what. There are times where we have to slow down a little. Maybe you are sick or injured, maybe life events are too much to handle for a few days; whatever it is that gets in your way just remember that we never stop. Just like riding a bike, if you get to a hill it might slow you down but as long as you keep pedalling you know you will eventually hit the crest and be able to cruise along again; if you stop on that hill though getting started again from scratch is a lot harder!
I want you to the point where if you don’t exercise or eat right you feel “off”. My wife always knows when life is throwing up temporary roadblocks in the way of my regular fitness and my martial arts study and practice because I get irritable and grouchy. I no longer moan about “having to go to the gym” like so many people I know, I grumble about not being able to get to the gym. All because I have 25+ years of built up momentum carrying me and fueling my healthy life habits.
Just remember that while the short-term tactics will change as time moves on, if you can maintain constant movement, and integrate being fit and healthy into the core of your being, there is no way you cannot succeed!
So how do you plan on cashing in on this secret to a healthy life and getting the ball rolling for yourself? Embrace your inner speed force (#wallywestprotip) and get moving! Why not hold yourself publicly accountable by telling the rest of the Jerd Herd what you have planned by dropping a comment below? Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter and be sure to Sign up for our free newsletter! (No spam, I promise!)