I have the deep privilege of getting to know people and their private lives in an intimate way and on a professional level. Over my years working in private practice I have come see that there are distinct decisions that "healthy" people tend to make over and over again. Their strategies are humbling and humanizing. I may have advice related to the fine-tuning of one's lifestyle, but I am consistently inspired by people's commitment to making their health a priority. These are the lifestyle commitments of the top 20 per cent of people I see in my practice.
1. They eat real food, frequently - there will always be days when we don't have time to eat well. But these people commit to trying. If you can't make 'real food', order it. Just to be clear, real food generally does not come in a box. It may need to be washed and frequently you need to cook it. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store, it will lessen the confusion. Try one new recipe each week and store healthy snacks in your bottom drawer at work.
2. They work (or have worked) with a therapist -- We all know those people; they have presence, poise, wisdom... and a therapist. My most well adjusted clients either have a therapist or have worked with one in the past. We all have baggage. Acknowledge it, integrate the experience and walk away with a set of luggage that will serve you for the journey yet to come.
3. They say no, politely - If you are going to find time to see a therapist and make real food, you need to start to say no. Prioritize. Lot's of amazing things will come your way -- that is just the talented kind of person that you are. Strategically decide which opportunities are the best for you and which ones you need to pass along to someone else. More than anything I appreciate when busy and talented people say no, and then direct me to an equally qualified alternative.
4. They listen to their body -- There is a time and place for cold medication or Tylenol sleep aids... Actually, no, scratch that last one, that is a terrible idea. If you need to take a well-known pain killer simply to get to sleep, you need to take a step back and focus on what is really going on. Listening to you body does not mean overreacting to every ache and pain. It means acknowledging when your body needs a break. Recurring colds and pain that keeps you awake are reasons to speak to your healthcare provider. Pushing through symptoms over and over again does not make you a mommy martyr or a corporate icon. Get to the root of the problem.
5. They exercise -- Yes that's right, even the busiest of the multiple ball balancers find a way to move. Ride your bike to work, walk during your lunch hour or sit on a stability ball at your desk. Anything is better than nothing. You are designed to move. It will increase mental clarity, stimulate your immune system and make you a friendlier person. You can't have health without movement and you definitely wont lose weight without finding a way to exercise. Start small. Get off the elevator two floors below your destination. See, that was easy!
6. They take probiotics and vitamin D -- I am always curious to see what supplements someone has selected prior to our first meeting. Those who have self-prescribed have consistently gravitated towards probiotics and vitamin D. Their universal observation is that it helps their mood and keeps them regular. Who can argue with that?
7. They are good sleepers -- For many, this has taken a lot of work. It is a talent to be a good sleeper. It requires practice and equally compliant children (mine have not read the memo on sleeping through the night). For the rest of us, it takes a commitment to good sleep hygiene. Create a sleep routine, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, keep your room dark and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Unless you are burning the candle at both ends, start by committing to increasing the quality, not necessarily the quantity of sleeping hours.
In my experience I have seen that one's approach to health and their respect for wellbeing is a manifestation of their true self and sense of worth. When you have your health, you can achieve your life's work. Raising kids, building empires, changing the laundry -- everything is easier when your body has your back. You've got this, join the 20 per cent.
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