The focus on healthy living and healthy eating has increased considerably over the last few years. You just need to open up a magazine, put the TV on, or head over to Facebook to find all sorts of attention-grabbing headlines on these topics. But what does being healthy really mean? We consider ourselves healthy as long as we're not ill, unwell, or have been diagnosed with a specific ailment or disease. But does being healthy mean 'not being ill'? Is it fair that we spend our evenings and weekends 'recovering' from the stress and the rush of our days and weeks? Does falling on the sofa completely exhausted on an evening really mean we're healthy? Is this what we should settle for? Or should we aim for more? For something different and better? If you ask me, this isn't enough. And here's why I believe it's time you start investing in your health.
Being healthy is not the same as 'not being ill'
True health is about feeling well. It's about thriving, rather than settling for surviving yet another day or another week.
We spend our days rushing from pillar to post - from activity to activity. Going through to-do lists that we never get to complete. Compromising on what we eat and the way we eat (on-the-go or at our desks) because we're just too busy. Because we don't have time to stop.
We sacrifice the amount and the quality of sleep we get because we need a bit of me time or quality time with our partners at the end of our day once the children have finally gone to bed. Effectively, we end up sleepwalking through our days on autopilot. And collectively, as a society, we have come to accept this as 'normal'. Because isn't this the life that everyone leads? Aren't we all on the same boat?
But what if it turned out that our habits aren't that good after all? What if what we do, day in and day out, just isn't serving us or supporting our health? What if I told you that 90% of deaths in the UK today are caused by non-communicable diseases (so called “lifestyle conditions”)? Would that surprise you?
Good habits lead to good health, but change is hard
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you changed some of your daily habits and replaced them with better ones? Small habits add up to big changes. And yet, bad habits are hard to die. Trying to unlearn or change years (decades, even) of established habits that are deeply ingrained in us can be very challenging. It takes a lot of self-control to stop doing something you've been doing for ages.
And it's undeniable that new habits aren't easy to build. Numerous studies have been conducted on how long it takes to establish a new habit. Call it 21 days or 66 (and more), the reality is that it could be anything in between. It highly depends on the habit and (believe it or not), on your personality. If you've followed my work before, you'll know that I'm a great fan of Gretchen Rubin's work, and if you've ever made a resolution to change and found it really hard, it could indeed be down to your personality. Finding the motivation to keep going is hard because when we're tired, stressed, and feel pressed for time, guess what we revert to? Our habits.
So a great way of investing in your health is to start by building small, daily habits that serve you and your body better.
We're under constant pressure to 'achieve healthy' but we don't know what to do
The fact that we're bombarded with so much information (which is often contradictory) doesn't make things any easier for those of us who'd love to make positive changes to our diet or lifestyle. It's no surprise that we're totally confused about where to even start when it comes to choosing the habits we should introduce into our lives.
What would have the biggest impact?
What should we prioritise?
And how would we go about replacing an old habit we want to change with a new one?
All this needs thinking about - it doesn't all 'just happen'! It needs planning, and it needs time. And perhaps even external input, support, and accountability.
The constant pressure to 'achieve healthy' is in itself a source of stress. We may decide to go all in and go vegan overnight, just to find out we haven't really thought this through and can't sustain it. Or we start exercising and exclude carbs (because we've read that's the answer) and we start putting on weight instead of losing it. So often we shoot for the stars, aim for perfection, and try to run before we can walk. And the result? We get demoralised and deflated, and we revert back to what we know. We bury our heads in the sand instead of looking for the right solution.
So what is the right solution?
Make a decision to invest in your health
There is no one-size-fit-all-answer to this, unfortunately. But I believe there is a right answer. And it's to stop procrastinating. It's to make a decision and a commitment to invest in your health.
Before it's too late.
Before you become unwell or ill.
Here’s what focusing on nutrition and healthy self-care habits can do for you:
Help you prevent diseases and illnesses.
Help you achieve body and mind wellbeing - in other words, give you energy and happiness!
And, if you have, sadly, been diagnosed with a chronic condition, nutrition and self-care can reverse it and put it in remission.
So if you want to give yourself a chance to be well and stay well as you age, you've got to do something now. I always share this little nugget with my clients - if you invest in your pension, invest in your health so that you can enjoy your pension when the time comes?! Aging is a certainty. The question is “how well”?
Now really is the perfect time. Because let's face it, there’s never a perfect time. There’ll always be something that gets in the way (a holiday, a birthday, a trip, Christmas, too much work).
Just make a decision to claim back your right to wellness and true wellbeing.
And if you don't know where to start, what to do, or how to keep going, don't do it alone. That's exactly what a coach can support you with, and here are 5 things that Health Coach can help you achieve.
1. Understand where you need to make changes
Working with a coach can help you identify your why - your motivations. What is that you're trying to achieve and why? Once you're clear on your long-term goals, you can start to identify the short-term actions that will get you there.
2. Find out what's right for you
The information we're constantly bombarded with isn't helping us. More often than not, we really want to change, but we just don't know what to do or how to go about it. A coach can give you the advice, resources, and tips that will work for you and your life. For your body and your health. So you can forget about everything else, and put specific things into practice that you know will work.
3. Start creating healthier habits
The best way to replace old habits that aren't serving you with better, healthier habits is to create achievable goals. Start small and be realistic. Create habits that fit into your life. And not just your everyday life, but those special times like birthdays and celebrations too, so you know how to navigate them.
If you want to learn more about creating habits (and healthier ones at that), I really recommend the book Atomic Habits, by James Clear. As a coach, I really do believe that 'tiny changes' lead to 'remarkable results'!
4. Make yourself accountable
And when the going gets tough, a Health Coach can provide the external support and accountability you need to push through resistance and keep going, so you can stay focused on the results you want to achieve. Your coach will pick you up when you struggle and cheer you on and celebrate you when you succeed. Your coach will also constantly remind you of your achievements, small or big, so you can see how far you’ve gone!
5. Have fun in the process
A lot of people think that living healthily, and specifically eating healthily, means living with restrictions or eating 'tasteless food' that you don't particularly like. On the contrary, adopting healthy behaviours or nutrition isn’t (and should never be) boring. It should be fun, and it should taste amazing. Because, really, that's the only way it can become a long-lasting habit.
You want to aim for a lifestyle change that is sustainable, rather than a short-term diet that delivers no long-lasting results. And working with a Health Coach can definitely make this process less tedious, easier, and more fun. After all, healthy people are happy people and vice versa. If the food you eat makes you miserable, then you're not going to feel well and stay well!
Are you ready to invest in your health?
Are you ready to take action and make the small but significant changes that will help you achieve true health? If you want to find out more about how I can help you, why not book a FREE 20-minute discovery call with me, and we can talk about your specific circumstances.
IIN qualified health coach, foodie, mum of 2, wife of 1, ex corporate advertising executive, RA warrior