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The First Step in Starting a Healthy Habit
Making healthy lifestyles sustainable.
“The future depends on what you do today.” -Mahatma Ghandi
I have an interesting love-hate relationship in my life. It’s with the high dive at the swimming pool. I watch as people climb the ladder, fearlessly trot down the plank, spring off the board catapulting themselves through the air with the greatest of ease and grace. Their entrance into the water resembles more of a ninja than anything. I love watching the high-dive. I hate doing it myself. I have a completely irrational fear of heights.
Getting on a ladder scares me, and it doesn’t even have to be a high dive ladder. Trying to climb a diving board ladder I experience temporary paralysis. Each step takes me several moments to take. My resolve continues to wane as I get badgered by little kids who clearly have zero patience. Slowly and awkwardly I continue. I desperately wish I looked like those I envy going off the high dive. I do not move through the air with the greatest of grace and beauty-rather I look like someone in terrific pain experiencing completely sporadic, involuntary, total-body spasms that rob my equilibrium of finding the horizon. I’d like to think this is the only reason keeping me from being a Navy Seal (I wish!). By the time I emerge from the depths of the dive tank I feel like a cat who was just thrown into a bath or water and quickly and cowardly look for an escape from onlooking eyes with my tail tucked between my legs.
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” -C.G. Jung
Starting a new healthy habit; be it daily exercise or increasing the fruit/veggie consumption, is not unlike me going off the high dive. When you start a new healthy habit you often have a mental picture of what you want this new goal to look or feel like in your life. However, when we start, it resembles my acrobatics in the dive tank. That’s just fine. Let me repeat that, that’s just fine! Just like starting a new skill or talent, you aren’t going to be flawless and perfect, you’re going to make mistakes, mess up, or fall down. I’d argue that in any endeavor we begin, our primary efforts will look ridiculous to our future selves that are now competent and experts at that habit.Take the goal ‘litmus test’ here.
The important thing is that we take that first step. We know it’s good for us, there truly is NO time like the present to create a healthy habit…NOW. Whatever excuses we come up with are flimsy. There will never be an ideal time to start a workout program, or begin a healthy lifestyle. There will never be a perfect time to start eating better, or getting more sleep. The only way anything will happen is if you make the decision to do it now and commit to that course of action and plan accordingly. Of course there will be obstacles. How naive would it be to expect no resistance?! Plan for the obstacles…after you’ve already taken the initial action and gotten the ball rolling. Remember, process-oriented goals tend to be more successfull than outcome-focused goals.
So, the one question that remains is, “What new healthy habit are you starting today?”