When striving to live a healthy life, things can often feel as if they are “all” or “none”.  Today, you either “were healthy”, or you “were not healthy”.  We might think that as long as we keep living days that are “all healthy” everything will be okay.  We won’t need to worry about the days when we were “not healthy”.

The trouble comes when the “not healthy” days start to throw us off of our routine.   When they turn from “not healthy” days to “not healthy” weeks.  When, what started as a minor bump in the road, turns into a major detour, detracting us from our more noble goals and desires.

How can we minimize these “not healthy” days, and how can we get back on track if and when we get shaken from our good intentions?

First, we have to realize what health is and is not:

  1. It is NOT “all” or “none” — It IS a continuum of more healthy and less healthy
  2. It is NOT an ending — It IS a process

What do these realizations mean for you?

Stop labeling days as either healthy or not healthy.  There are moments that are health promoting and moments that are health degrading.  If you have a day with a lot of health degrading moments, add in some health promoting moments.  However, just because you have a lot of health promoting moments, they do not necessarily give you the green light to indulge in a number of health degrading moments.

Don’t let a day full of health degrading moments go without a few health promoting moments.  If you have been sitting at the office all day, are under a lot of stress, are underslept, and have been eating poorly, make it a point to add a 10-minute activity in at the end of the day that is health promoting.  Something as simple as meditating for 10 minutes, going for a 10-minute walk, or taking 10 minutes to prepare yourself a salad for the next day’s lunch are all worthwhile activities.

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Health is a process, not an ending.  You don’t get to be healthy one day and then stay healthy forever.  Achieving and maintaining a state of health is a lifelong process.  During that process there will be health promoting moments and health degrading moments.  You job is not to keep tally of each and every moment but rather to observe trends.  Are you trending towards healthier or not?  Is your body heading in the right direction, or is it regressing?

You will go nuts trying to analyze each potential data point that you could collect.  And at the end of the day, that’s really not the goal.  You likely aren’t trying to get healthier so you can hang your lab results on your wall.  My guess is that you are probably trying to get healthier because you want to do or experience more things in life, or because you want to be able to keep doing or experiencing the things you are already able to.  While controlling details can help fine-tune your results, focusing solely on the details can cause you to lose focus of why you are actually trying to become healthier in the first place.

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Some action steps you can implement to put this advice to use are:

  1. Use 10 minutes every morning to do something that is health promoting.  Activities such as drinking water right when you wake up, going for a 10-minute walk, meditating, or reading some inspiring books or blogs are all great options.  This way, no matter what else happens during the rest of the day, you know you took at least one action step to promote your health.
  2. Use the last 10 minutes of your day to do something that is health promoting.  Journaling, thinking through what you are grateful for, and preparing your food for the next day can set you up for a great night’s sleep and make sure you are already heading in the right direction when you wake up in the morning.
  3. Track your trends.  Use a simple tracking system to tally the health-promoting activities you take each day.  If you notice that some days you are doing fewer health-promoting activities, you can then dig into the details of those days to figure out what might be causing this.  Look to see over time if you are trending towards doing more or less health-promoting activities and adjust your daily actions as needed.

Have questions about this? Drop them in the comments below!

Charlie Cates

Charlie Cates is the leading consultant to high-level professional, college, & high school basketball players in the Chicagoland area for injury prevention, recovery, & muscle performance. As a certified Muscle Activation Techniques® MATRx practitioner & former college basketball player, he uses his personal experience & understanding of the game & player demands to create customized exercise options for his clients to recover faster & perform their best. He is certified in the highest levels of MAT®, including MATRx, MATRx Stim, and MAT® Athlete. Follow him on Instagram @CharlieCates!