We talk healthy lifestyle…but do we know what it actually is?

For fun I googled “Healthy Lifestyle” and in under a second it found 1.4 billion results.

One point four billion.

The top result was Web MD, offering a summary of advice that won’t surprise you. All good recommendations, including laughter and yoga, but nothing earth shattering.

Buried at the tail end of the article is what I find to be the author’s key takeaway:

“(1) Your list of healthy lifestyle behaviors may be different from mine. (2) The most important thing to remember is that you can make a difference in your health and well-being. (3) Take charge of your life, and be mindful of small behavior changes that can make your lifestyle a healthier one.”

Here’s why:

(1) How you define a healthy lifestyle and how you achieve it will likely not be the same as those around you. Even those in your immediate household, and that’s okay. While looking to others for ideas a support is helpful, you’ll want to have your own plan and strategies that work for you.

(2) Research shows lifestyle factors greatly improve our health. We have control!

(3) It’s like compound interest…small steps lead to big results.

But we must each answer the essential question: What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you and why do you want it?

Do you want to travel when you’re 80? Have energy for more than what you’re doing now? Fit comfortably in your pants? Hike with your sweetie? Be free of medications? Let someone carry your groceries because you want to, not because you have to?

You know how it is. Thinking you should do something because it’s good for you isn’t terribly motivating. I found that out myself – again! – just recently.

I want to offer two options to decide what a healthy lifestyle looks like for you, and why it’s important:

  1. Health may be one of your top values, which makes the motivation more obvious. Still, define your motivation, then plan your course. Or…
  2. Health may serve a different value, like adventure. Health allows you to live out the other values that are most important to you.

A healthy lifestyle is so much more than freedom from disease. I wrote a book in 2005 called Achieving Physical Wealth: 8 simple steps to breaking the rules of staying fit, where I said:

“Physical wealth is about your whole life: your energy, confidence, vitality, endurance, strength, health, self-esteem… the way you live your life, how you feel day to day, and how you feel about yourself, and how that impacts every area of your life.  Physical wealth is living the life you are meant to have every single day.

Now that’s a healthy lifestyle!

Do you know what it’s really about?

I was discussing with a group of clients the difference between our thoughts and facts, a concept that can take a while to really understand. And one coaching client said it brilliantly:

“It’s not what’s going on; it’s what I think about what’s going on.”

Yes!

When we think it’s about “what’s going on” we give power to what’s “out there.” That’s when we blame our feelings and actions on something or someone outside of us. You know…

  • My coworker needed last-minute help on a project…I had to work overtime.
  • He always runs late…it makes me so mad.
  • She offered me wine…I didn’t want to be rude and say no.
  • The office manager brought in a box from the Brown Butter Cookie Company…those are my kryptonite!
  • It was too dark when I got home…I couldn’t go for my walk.

Notice that the locus of control is outside of you: a co-worker, friend, partner, food, time of day.

Here’s the thing. You can give away that control, and most people would nod in agreement as you told your story. But does it get you what you want?

And if it’s a rarity, probably no biggie.

But if you regularly locate responsibility for your feelings and behaviors outside of yourself, you’ll stay stuck.

Did you hear that?

If we blame other people and things for the fact that we’re not keeping our commitments to ourselves – essentially, not making ourselves a priority – there will always be something or someone to blame. And that doesn’t require any change on our part.

And, we stay stuck.

Any of those examples resonate somewhat? Take a look at where you might be using “what’s going on” as an excuse for not following through. For not doing all the things.

In his book, The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks talks about conflict in relationships and the idea that “if both people will claim 100 percent responsibility, there’s a possibility of ending the conflict.”

What if we take 100 percent responsibility for our thoughts, feeling, and actions? Not so that we can beat the crap out of ourselves, but so we can reclaim the power of our decisions.

I was teaching a group of clients around the difference between our thoughts and facts, when one coaching client said it brilliantly...
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

What difference would that make in your health and weight loss? For that matter, in your work and relationships, too?

Give it a week. Take 100 percent responsibility for all of it. How can you use that to significantly move yourself forward?

Do you know what to expect?

Heather Moreno weight loss coach

For months we’ve anticipated re-entry. That is, getting back to normal life. We think we know what to expect.

Seeing family and friends. Parties. Kids back in school. Eating in a restaurant. Breathing in public without a mask. Maybe, even, shaking someone’s hand.

In the beginning we thought by summer. Then fall. Then we had hope for 2021.

And now we’ve got a vaccine.

AND reports of a new strain.

What we expect keeps changing. That’s because we don’t control the circumstances.

So, if we want our expectations met, we must base them on what we control.

When I ask high achieving women their biggest concern about re-entry, they tell me this: “I don’t want to get back on the wheel.” I resonate so deeply with that. Simultaneously I wonder if it’s possible.

Of course, it is. But what kind of person do I need to be to make that happen? Will I make the hard choices?

Is keeping my commitments to myself and my well-being worth the discomfort of disappointing other people?

Am I willing to make the tradeoffs necessary to make ME a priority? Are you?

Right now, our experience is tinged with what we’re missing out on (e.g., in person connection) and what we feel we have to do (e.g., keep kids engaged in online school while also working 40+ hours).

But the time will come when the familiar threatens to pull us back into over-doing. Over-committing. Over-booking. Which means WE have to be different to make meaningful change.

For months we’ve anticipated getting back to normal. First, we thought by summer. But, we really don't know what to expect. It keeps changing.
Photo by Aleks Marinkovic on Unsplash

Ask these three questions:

  1. What am I learning about myself during this time? “Good” or “bad,” isn’t relevant. Did you learn that you’re more of a homebody than you thought? That you love the gym way more than you realized? That you use food to procrastinate? Everything we’re willing to learn can move us in a positive direction.
  2. What will I incorporate into what’s next? There may be aspects of life during the pandemic that you’ve welcomed. For example, I think of all the people I know who have taken this time to de-clutter and minimize their possessions. It will take intentionality to keep these pieces integrated into your life as circumstances change.
  3. No matter what, am I willing to make myself a priority? This question is ALWAYS relevant. Some of you decided in 2020 that it was time to invest in your health and well-being. Others of you were challenged with exercise and found yourselves in the pantry a little too often, and you want to change that. It takes re-committing to yourself regularly when life is coming at you fast.

We don’t know what to expect of the world, the virus, or the realities dictated to us by others, near and far. Plus, when we have expectations, we’re usually disappointed.

What do we control? We control our thoughts about all the things. We control our response to all the things. That’s it.

And that’s A LOT.

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