Establishing Healthy Habits

shutterstock_28260925The New Year offers each of us a chance to forget the old and move forward into the new. I am not a great fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I fervently believe in writing down our goals and reviewing them regularly. I encourage you to write out your goals for 2016, including those for your personal health, and then periodically check in to see how you are doing. “For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing” (Jeremiah 31:25 NLT).

Our habits determine the patterns of our lives

We know that life is short. The years go by, and so many of us find ourselves trapped in lives that seem to be just going through the motions and lacking in purpose. God calls us to an abundant life, a life that will make the world drawn to ask what it is we have that is different.

 

Our time is very valuable and can easily be wasted

If one person comes in from work and watches TV 365 days a year while another disciplines himself to write one page of a novel, at the end of the year one has nothing and the other has a book. Motivation is often a factor. If you decide you want to learn how to play the piano, that is a large goal, but you may need to set smaller goals to achieve it. For example, you may feel too tired to practice piano, but if one of your smaller goals is to listen to inspirational music, before you know it you may find yourself sitting at the piano practicing.

 

One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control

This plays a major factor in our personal health. If we are to take good care of our bodies and reap the benefits, we must find self-control and balance. Our bodies need good nutrition. I was recently staying with a friend in the Keys who takes the time to prepare a nutritionally dense smoothie each morning. This takes far more effort than pouring a bowl of cereal or buttering some toast, but it will also reap greater benefits with improved health, stamina and energy.

 

We all need accountability

One of the reasons we began a wellness small group at Choosing Joy was not just to inspire people to eat healthier, but to encourage and hold one another accountable. Sometimes we just need the inspiration to move in the right direction. The older I get, the more I realize the value of having good role models and people we encourage to ask valuable questions about our lives and help us achieve our short-term and long-term goals.

 

Over 40 percent of our day is spent in automatic motion

Obviously, these habits can be both good and bad. If we wish to achieve longstanding change in our lives, it often requires re-evaluating our mindset and environment. For example, someone who struggles with eating junk food will often find that they indulge most often while watching TV. This physical eating equates to emotional happiness and thus produces dopamine, which further cements the habit. If a person makes a conscious effort to replace TV time with a walk around the neighborhood and substitutes a smoothie for the junk food, they will still get a dopamine boost, but the results will be far more rewarding.

 

Keeping things simple is the key to success

Giving yourself too many choices uses mental energy and sets you up for failure. For example to make dressing less complicated, President Obama has only gray or blue suits. One of the most organized women that I know keeps things very simple. She shops on Mondays, cleans on Tuesdays, visits her daughter on Wednesdays, schedules appointments for Thursdays and has her hair done every Friday. Perhaps this sounds boring, but daily rituals are very effective in lowering stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

 

We must make it easy to keep the habit

Setting out our workout clothes the night before, or the dry ingredients for a healthy breakfast, set you up for success the next morning. Positive reinforcement with a reward at the end of the week is highly effective. We will have times when we fail, but rather than totally quitting, we must simply call friends to encourage us, start afresh the next day and trust God to give us strength and vision as only He can.

 

Andrea Goff hosts Choosing Joy, a support group for people dealing with ongoing medical conditions, pain, anxiety or depression. For information, contact [email protected]

 

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