Want what you Need

This week the CDC (Center for Disease Control) released a report that verified what many folks already know – we are not getting enough physical activity or eating enough fruits and vegetables. Recommendations are to get at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three days per week and to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables – and new recommendations even suggest 9 servings a day.

The report found that only 1 in 7 Americans (more women than men) are meeting these standards. This in not really news to anyone, but the question is why do we treat ourselves so poorly?

People do what they want and not what they need.

The goal is to figure out a way to want what you need. We need to figure out how to crave fruits and vegetables and enjoy physical activity. We need to associate good eating and workout behaviors with pleasure and associate not doing them with pain. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this that I have seen work in people’s lives.

First, we need to be more forward thinking. We need to look into our futures and especially the futures of our kids and envision what we will feel like if we don’t live healthily today. Behavior is driven by emotion – not by logic. We need to really reflect on how we will feel when we lose our health.

Health is like anything else, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. If you don’t envision yourself as a vibrant and healthy older adult you won’t make the daily decisions required to get there. Once you do adopt this mentality you will find it much easier, even enjoyable, to grab an apple instead of a snickers bar and to put on your sneakers and head outside.

Second, momentum creates success. The hardest part of starting any lifestyle change is actually starting. This is true for biological and psychological reasons.

Once you find a physical activity that you enjoy you will feel so much better after doing it that you will want to do it again. Whether it’s playing tennis, riding your bike, walking, swimming, hiking or whatever. You will have a true physical feeling of increased energy and vibrancy and you will have a psychological feeling of accomplishment and success.

The same is true for foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains will improve your body, brain and spirit. They will give you more sustained energy by modifying your physiology so that you use the fuel from food more efficiently. They will boost your mood by more efficiently delivering to your brain the raw materials necessary for brain health. This will help protect you from physical and psychological stress.

Just give it a try.

Sit back for a minute, close your eyes and picture yourself 1 year, 5 years and 10 years from now. Focus on what you will feel like if you continue doing what you are doing now. Focus on what your kids will look and feel like. Take some time to associate making poor choices today with the pain of the future.

Now do the same thing again but picture yourself and your kids in perfect health 10 years from now. Feel the emotions you will have. What did it take to get there? What kind of daily decisions did you make to achieve that future?

If you are already doing the necessary things – great, keep going. If you need to make some changes then take Nike’s advice and ‘Just Do It’. It doesn’t matter where you are starting from today – your choices will either make things better or make things worse.

Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLC