Some habits are worth cultivating because of their far reaching effects on other areas of our lives.
Weight loss is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions, but this month I’ve been talking about replacing resolutions with intentions and looking more deeply into why we should make the effort and how it will change our lives and those around us.
The habits I’ve chosen won’t be much of a surprise, but they will demonstrate how doing one thing can lead to another.
Rather than thinking about losing weight, the habit of eating a healthy, balanced diet will have more benefits than “going on a diet”. Many diets are not particularly healthy, they are restrictive and not something you can follow for the rest of your life, so the weight goes back on.
By adopting a healthy eating plan, you will lose weight (just remember portion control), but there are many other benefits: the right “fuel” gives you more energy; your immune system will improve so fewer health issues and you’ll be more productive.
So make the decision to eat healthily for just one month and feel the difference. It doesn’t have
to be complicated or time consuming: you can get all the required nutrition for the day in a breakfast
smoothie, a healthy sandwich or salad and some grilled fish and steamed vegetables in the evening.
I’m not talking about boot camp, gyms or any high intensity type of exercise, but more about cultivating the habit of being active for just 30 minutes or so every day, doing something nurturing for your body for now and well into old age.
For example, a brisk 30-minute walk which everyone can do no matter what age, shape or size, has the same benefits on your health as some of the other high intensity activities; in a recent study, yoga lowered blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and other cardiovascular risk factors in increments comparable to those seen with aerobic exercise.
The health benefits of regular exercise are well documented, but it will also impact on other areas of your life: you are more likely to eat healthily, you are less likely to smoke or over-indulge in any unhealthy activity, you will sleep and feel better and have more energy.
I’ve written before about how some of the world’s most successful people meditate. The benefits are many including: less stress and anxiety – when we meditate, we loosen the connections of certain neural pathways; more focus – during meditation we are training ourselves to focus our attention and be more aware which is a habit that drifts into our daily lives.
So make the decision to do just a few minutes’ mediation a day to start with for a month. Simply sit in a quiet room and focus on your breathing. If uninvited thoughts pop into your mind, be aware but then let them go and again focus on your breathing. See how good you feel afterwards.