Better Health Begins with “Why?”
By Cate Reade, MS, RD ~
The start of the new year provides us time to pause and reflect on what went well and what we want to improve upon. Health is always at the top of my list for two reasons: first because I walk the talk as a nutritionist and exercise physiologist; secondly and more profoundly, it’s because I lost my health for a few years to chronic Lyme disease and recovered it.
Anyone who has experienced a chronic or disabling condition knows wholeheartedly and bone deep that health is your most precious asset. When you’ve lost your health and vitality, you want it back more than anything else on earth.
Living with physical, mental and/or emotional pain drains the life energy out of you. Your world gets smaller. You engage less. Depression sets in. You may lose hope and toss in the towel, simply accepting that further decline is inevitable. Or you can love yourself enough to take small, sustainable steps towards improving your health.
If you look at all the changes you need to make, you can become overwhelmed and not know where to start. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. But before you take that first bite, ask yourself, “Why do I want to eat that elephant?”
Regardless of your age or health challenges, we now know that small, gradual lifestyle changes are the foundation of health. What would happen to your home if it was built on a foundation made from sand? It wouldn’t be able to stand the test of time and the same goes for our health. The quality of how we choose to eat, move, drink, think, sleep and socialize each day all come together to create or break our health little by little.
Lifestyle choices are powerful medicine or slow poison.
Before you start looking to make lifestyle changes ask “Why?” “Why do I want good health? Why is good health important to me?” Ask yourself “why” 3-7 times or until you can attach your answer to
something meaningful or emotional. For instance, when I was at my lowest point with Lyme, I took off from work for over a year because my mental health was failing. I was tired of life.
Each day was a struggle but I turned a corner mentally when I asked myself, “Why is it important for me to restore my health?” After asking “why” five times, I found my answer: I wanted to be there for my kids and husband. It was because of love. So everyday when I didn’t feel like walking or drinking that glass of lemon water, I did it anyway. My “why” sustained and motivated me to persevere.
Asking yourself “why” helps you to drill down and understand to connect to your “why.” It’s the key to achieving lasting and sustainable changes.
Let’s use weight loss as an example, since it is a common New Year’s resolution.
I want to lose 15 pounds.
Why do you want to lose 15 pounds?”
Because my doctor told me that I need to lose weight.
Why did your doctor tell you to lose weight?
Because it will help reduce my arthritis pain.
Why do you care about reducing your arthritis pain?
Because it hurts to move.
Why is it important for you to move?
Because I want to be able to take care of myself.
Why is it important that you can take care of yourself?
Because I want to live independently.
Despite what we see on TV, Now, losing weight isn’t just about looking better. It’s about feeling better and preserving independence, which is much more meaningful and profound. This connection can drive your behaviors and sustain your lifestyle choices over the long haul.
Recognizing that health is a vehicle to connect with all the people and activities that give us meaning, we can intentionally make choices that are compatible with our goals. My “why,” being there for my family, motivated me even when I didn’t feel like making healthy choices.
When you are faced with life’s myriad of choices, consider the ones that move you closer to achieving your why. Ask yourself and determine your “why” today. Write it on a Post-It note and stick it on your bathroom mirror. Celebrate acting on the first step towards the best version of yourself.
Cate Reade, MS, RD, is a Senior Fitness Expert and entrepreneur leading an epidemic of mobility. As CEO of Resistance Dynamics, she is delighted to be helping older adults regain strength, balance and confidence with her innovation, the MoveMor™ Mobility Trainer and exercise programming. Over 10 independent studies show better balance, increased leg strength, greater ankle flexibility, increased independence, improved continence and a reduced fall risk – in as little as 10 minutes a week. Cate loves instructing local and national educational sessions, collaborating with healthcare professionals and helping senior living communities thrive. Contact Cate at 303.515.7070; Cate@ResDyna.com or visit MoveMor.com.