Health can be like dating.
I’ve had many conversations with friends who are single who describe their dating woes. “There’s no one good out there anymore.” I ask about their experience and it’s long list of people they don’t like and many negative interactions. They talk about looking through hundreds of profiles saying “No, no, no, definitely not! No…” The dating experience becomes negative to the point where they disengage and become hopeless.
My sense is the same pattern happens in people’s relationship to their health. There are things they would like to do to improve their health, but often they say no to their health because work is more important, there’s not enough time, exercise is too sweaty, healthy foods are too bland and many other reasons.
Health gets a no and the no is playing on repeat daily, perhaps hourly.
The collection of nos creates an unhealthy pattern and the barriers to saying yes to healthy choices grow from ant hills to mountains.
If this experience sounds familiar, how can we pause the pattern of nos and start saying yes to health?
Let’s begin by thinking of the smallest thing you can do today, in the next hour or right now that would be good for your health.
In the ThinkMOVE program, we present health behaviors in one-minute chunks. This could be a mindful minute, stretching, a cardio move to get the blood flowing or a choice to connect with a colleague.
Think about a health choice you could make and take action within 60 seconds. Perhaps it’s drinking some water or making yourself a cup of tea. It could be as simple as rotating your neck and stretching out the tension you feel there.
There are an infinite number of these little behaviors and choices you could make throughout your day that do not require money or a change of clothes. It might be hard to believe that such little choices can make a difference. The media tells us to be healthy we have to eat and train like athletes. Don’t buy into the hype. Health is much simpler than all that.
Research on short bouts of high-intensity movement can boost your fitness levels and metabolism. Other research is highlighting frequent breaks of sedentary time as an effective way of addressing sitting time.
The little things we do matter because they have a cumulative effect that can transform our health. I used to train like 5-6 times a week 90 minutes each session. Now I focus on incorporating short bouts of movement throughout my day that enhance both my work and my health.
At first, it was difficult to let go of traditional methods of exercise because that’s what I had practiced for 16 years, but once I saw the benefits and the time efficiency of focusing on movement it was easy.
The awareness of these possibilities begins with one simple choice: saying yes to your health. From there the practice is being willing to take small actions to nurture your health.
A powerful technique you can use to anchor and reinforce these healthy choices is to allow yourself to savour and taste the experience of moving, of sipping that cup of tea and experiencing your healthy choice fully. Appreciating the choices you make is an important shift away from feeling guilty about what you ‘should’ be doing to feeling good about what you are doing.
Health is accessible to all when we can leverage whatever resources we have to make the shift from a no to a yes-mindset.
Here’s the practice: Try keeping this question in mind throughout the day this week:
“How can I say ‘Yes’ to my health right now?”
Try to think in small behavioral chunks that can fit in 60 second windows. Once you complete the minute of healthy movement, eating or connecting let yourself feel the effects of doing this through your whole body. Savour it like a piece of fine chocolate.
Here are 5 possibilities:
- Take the stairs.
- Take a stretch break
- Connect with a colleague or friend
- Open a window and get some fresh air
- Drink some water or a comfort drink
If you know someone that might benefit from reading this remember: sharing is caring!