By Carol Phillips
People sometimes struggle with making healthy choices. Days turn into years, the excess pounds accumulate, and exercise becomes non-existent. How does this happen when we know we should be taking care of ourselves? Part of the problem is the endless list of excuses we slowly learn to embrace instead of listening to our natural instinct to make healthy decisions. I call this turning point, between the positive thought and the subsequent decision to make an unhealthy choice, the fork in the road. We need to be aware of the unhealthy forks in the road that can negatively affect our health many times each day.
If you listen carefully to your natural instincts, your brain tells you many times every day what you should be doing. The challenge becomes when we follow the healthy thought with excuses we have grown accustomed to accepting instead of dismissing. For example, you plan to go for a walk after work, but then on the way home you start feeling tired so you tell yourself you’ll go for that healthy walk tomorrow. Your brain reminded you to exercise but then you decided there was a fork in the road with a different path that seemed easier in the moment. While each separate instance may not seem dangerous to your health, making these unhealthy choices several times a day for months or years accumulates into a pattern that leads to almost certain illness and disease.
Common reasons that people go from having a healthy thought to not following through include fatigue, boredom, and stress. These unhealthy decisions lead to even more fatigue, boredom, and stress, making it more and more difficult to get back on track. People who listen to their initial instincts to make healthy decisions each day, including exercising, eating healthy, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep, are much more likely to have increased energy and a better quality of life. In addition, illness and disease are much more likely to be avoided.
In a Prevention.com article titled, “20 Biggest Health Excuses That Hold You Back,” Jessica Knadler makes this suggestion to counter the popular “I’m too busy” exercise excuse: “Sprinkle shorter sessions throughout the day. In fact, one study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that short-but-frequent workouts (10-minute exercise sessions, four times a day) produced the same health benefits as a daily 40-minute session.”
In short, beware of the forks in the road that take you from a healthy path in life to a path of excuses and, eventually, illness and disease. Be on the lookout for the forks in the road and remind yourself that one road will take you to better health; the other road will rob you of your health and happiness. Stop the excuses in their tracks and take pleasure and pride in following through on prioritizing your valuable health!
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Carol helps individuals and employees embrace a healthier lifestyle. Based in Manchester, N.H., she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.