A few years ago, I sat in my bedroom mentally chastising myself for how lax I’d become with my health habits.
What should I do? I asked.
The word came into my mind as if it were spoken right to me. I strongly believe it was an answer from God. He’d been listening to my deep desire to renew my resolve to take care of myself. I accepted the answer, but I still wondered if it was that simple. Didn’t I need to go on a diet or see a psychologist or both? I struggled with food addiction—primarily chocolate and ice cream—and my portion sizes were often out of control.
I decided to run with it, literally. I started with walking only for several weeks. Then I bumped up my walks by jogging for a minute when I felt up to it and then walking again. This progressed over a few months to the point where I was jogging more than walking. When I got to the point where I could talk and jog at the same time, I decided to sign up for a 5K, for the motivation and a free t-shirt.
It worked! Exercising regularly motivated me to pay better attention to what I ate and whether I drank enough water. I didn’t want to spend time and energy exercising to get in shape and then dash it all with out-of-control eating. Exercising also gave me flexibility in my calorie intake. Because I exercised, I had to consume more calories. In fact, if I didn’t eat more to make up for the calories I’d burned, my body would respond to the deficit by storing fat. I didn’t want that!
I came to the conclusion that exercise is more important for my health than what I eat.
My doctor confirmed my conclusion during my biannual visit this morning. She is new to the practice, so I told her a little about my health history including that I’d weighed 333 pounds at one time in my life. She congratulated me for losing the weight, and we talked briefly about weight loss methods. Then she emphasized the importance of exercise.
“I think exercise is more important than what food I eat.” I ventured.
“It is,” she said.
If the word exercise makes you cringe, cower, or dig in your heels, try “physical activity.” There are a lot of ways to be physically active. Food related choices are important for healthy living. My choice is to focus on doing daily physical activity.
Most important health strategy?
Listen to your inner voice.
Whether you call that inner voice your conscience or God, start asking questions about your health concerns and then listen for answers. The answers may not come right away. Often they’ll come as you research the topic and talk with people who have experience in that area.
Try a new healthy living idea, like starting your day with a short walk to the corner and back. Pay attention to how you feel after you’ve been doing it for a few weeks. Do you feel empowered, happy, and at peace? Or do you feel guilt and frustration. Does it feel right for you? This is how you form an individual healthy living plan.
Pay attention to the voice inside you. You will know what is best for you and your circumstances. No one on this earth but you is, or can be, the ultimate authority on your health choices.
The goal is long lasting good health and expanding joy.