8 Simple Steps To A Healthy Lifestyle

What does good health mean to you? 
Is it important? Is it a priority for you?

Almost every single person I have asked these questions, says a big ‘Yes’ without even thinking twice. On an intellectual and theoretical level, it’s a no-brainer; of course, my health is important to me and is my priority. Why wouldn’t it be?

However, for most people, on a practical level, their actions are directly in contradiction to this astounding answer of ‘YES’.

Is health limited to looking good? Being able to fit in your clothes?
The culture I grew up in, going to the gym or exercising is generally for people who are overweight and otherwise out of shape. Exercise has nothing to do with overall fitness, physical and mental well-being. Can you relate?

Actions speak louder than words

I personally know people, and I am sure you do too, who will spend hundreds of dollars a week on alcohol, junk food, entertainment, bags, shoes, clothes etc. but will not spend $25 a week for a gym membership. Why? because “It’s expensive”.

Another very common excuse by (usually the same) people is that they don’t have time for gym and exercise. Their lives are too busy and chaotic. They have more important things to do like work, spending time with family and house chores etc. All very valid and important things, no doubt.
Yet when you see their Instagram, they will be out almost every single day, socialising. Going to every community event. When you talk to them, they will be up to date on every Netflix show and have all the latest news and gossips. Something doesn’t add up, and do you know what it is?

It is not about time, it is about priority. We find the time for things that are important to us (family, friends, Netflix, going out etc). And there is no judgment here but please do not misunderstand and misrepresent that your life is busy and you don’t have the time to look after your body and health. It is not your priority. It is not as important to you as you may think, Your actions would dictate it if it were. They do speak louder than words.

So how do you make health a priority?

I will be the first to admit, it is not easy — at least in the beginning. Building a habit of regular exercise and changing your eating patterns is a mammoth task. It takes time, lots of effort, motivation, good systems and routines and perhaps in some cases lots of money too. But where do you begin?

1. Understand your ‘why’

First and foremost, you need to be clear about your why. Why do you want to do it? Why do you want to be healthy? 
To look good? To fit in your clothes? To feel good? To be stronger? To be around longer for loved ones? 
Whatever your ‘why’, you need to have one and be clear about it — no judgement.
For me, it started shortly after my daughter was born — I wanted to be around for her, enjoy with her but most importantly — being the first man in her life, set a very good example and a high benchmark for her, and not just in health but in all aspects of life. That is my ‘why’.

2. You are in it for the long-run

Be very clear that health and fitness cannot and should not be a short term, goal-oriented objective. 
“I just need to lose 5 kilos and then life will be good” 
“I just need to fit in size X pants — that’s my goal” 
These are short term goals. You may achieve them but you are bound to fail in the long run and you (and your body) will rebound. Those last few kilos and inches will come back with a vengeance when you go back to your ‘normal’ lifestyle. 
The word ‘diet’ for many has a negative connotation and when they use it, they are already setting themselves up for failure.

3. Change your identity.

If you think and believe you are lazy, then you are. 
If you think and believe you cannot eat healthily, then you can’t. 
If you think you are not motivated or organised enough to build a consistent gym routine, then you can’t.
At least not with that attitude and that level of thinking.
We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our thinking.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

Change, first and foremost, needs to happen on the inside. You need to change your script, identity and how you related to yourself. You need to believe something is possible, only then you will make any meaningful and earnest effort towards it.
Health and fitness need to be a lifestyle change. An identity change. Not just a short term, diet change. You need to change your beliefs and identity around health and well-being. You need to become and embrace all the qualities of a healthy person. From eating healthy to exercising, moving more and looking after your mind and body in a holistic way.

4. Change your environment

Can you quit smoking if you all your friends smoke around you? Or can you quit eating sugars and carbs if at every meal your friends/family eat them around you? Perhaps you can, but it certainly is going to be very hard.
Design your environment that will encourage good habits. If you struggle with eating sugar then stop buying and having sugary stuff your house. Stop going to dessert bars and cafes. If you know you will power is not that strong (and in the beginning, it may not be) then avoid putting yourself in ‘dangerous’ situations.

5. Start small

Don’t over commit. Don’t try to quit carbs, start gym, meditation, journaling and 10K running all in the same week. Stick with one habit change at a time. When that becomes your new normal and a part of your lifestyle then introduce another. Take it easy and don’t overwhelm yourself. Change is hard as it is, too many changes will demotivate and discourage you.

6. Consistency is the key

As this is a lifestyle change, this needs to be a regular, on-going thing. Not just on Mondays and then you miss a few days. You will small wins along the way but it’s about continuous improvements so be consistent and focus on building momentum in the beginning.

7. Seek help

Professional help. Get a trainer. Get a nutritionist. Join a program. Join like-minded people. Start your own group if you can’t find one. Don’t try to do this alone if you struggle. Seek help, offer help. Find a partner, find a coach, find a mentor.

8. Be patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Will will not be able to change your habits and lifestyle overnight. It takes time. You need to be patient with yourself. Progress demands persistence which comes with time
In this culture of instant everything (same-day delivery, instant messaging, on-demand video etc.) we have forgotten the value of time and progress. You didn’t build/acquire these ‘bad’ habits in a week — it has been an accumulation of years, perhaps a lifetime — so it will not go away in a week. Be patient.

I am not listing diet and fitness advice and specifics, there is probably an unlimited amount of advice available on fitness and healthy eating. Do your research, try a few different things and stick to what works best for you. 
If you are keen on learning about habit change and consistency I recommend this book:

**Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear**

In the end

All your dreams, goals, desire, aspirations and life plans are dependent on your body and mind being able to achieve and enjoy these outcomes. Whether your goal is a bigger house, a faster car or world peace if you are physically or mentally unable to realise that outcome, what is the point?

Your body and mind are your greatest asset. All you are working for is reliant on this body and mind functioning properly to enjoy it. 
So please look after it and prioritise your health.

“A healthy person has a million dreams. A sick person has only one.”