For many people, the idea of getting healthy can be like contemplating climbing a mountain – a long, difficult challenge, months or even years of struggle with no guarantee of success.
For this reason, many people fail before they even begin. They see the long, difficult road stretching out ahead of them and turn away before taking a single step.
Sometimes, people take the opposite approach – they start off enthusiastically, jumping into action and racing along the road, only to get exhausted and demoralized and giving up before they have made much progress.
But there is another way. We all know the story of the hare and the tortoise: the success of the tortoise is a result of one simple thing – persistence. He doesn’t rush, he just keeps on going and, eventually, gets to the end of the road.
Developing excellent health is like this – it’s a long journey, and the slow and steady approach always beats the sprint. So don’t think you need to put in a lot of work. Just making a few simple changes to your lifestyle and observing them consistently will yield enormous benefit.
Drink water. Water is a natural detoxifier and you should drink 6 to 8 cups per day. Keep a bottle on your desk and drink water with meals. Replace one of those cups of coffee with water. The best indication that you are drinking enough is that your urine is colorless, not yellow.
Sleep earlier, get up earlier. According to Chinese medicine, the liver only does its job to detoxify the body between 10pm to 2am. Also, cell and tissue repair, and the building up of exercised (and therefore damaged) muscle all happens while we are sleeping or resting. Sleeping between 6 to 8 hours, depending on your body’s needs, will allow you to satisfactorily reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep: less stress, more energy, and less crankiness in the morning.
Cut down on calories. You don’t need to go on crash diets and starve yourself – this is dangerous and unsustainable. You need to get into a habit of eating less. Cut out starch (potatoes, rice, pasta) and eat more leafy vegetables. Eat fruit instead of sugary desserts. Cut out sugar in drinks. Eat nuts instead of candies. It’s nothing new – we all know this stuff. The difference is that some people actually do it.
Exercise. Don’t think that you need to spend hours running or lifting weights. Getting out of breath for just ten minutes per day, every day, is better than running for an hour, once per week. Start off walking as briskly as you can, then try doing star-jumps or skipping. Calisthenics (body weight exercises like Hindu squats, press-ups and crunches) are great because you don’t need much space or any equipment so you can do them at home. It doesn’t really matter what you do – just do it consistently.
Don’t give up. If you miss a day of exercise or start to eat too much sugar again. Don’t worry. The journey will always be ‘two steps forward, one step back.’ Just pick yourself up and go at it again. It usually takes 21 times of repetition until something sticks as a habit. In fact, every small thing we are used to doing in life is a habit. Keep going – slow and sure, and a healthy new you is guaranteed.
Mark Harrison is a freelance writer and educator. He writes for a number of self-improvement websites and is the author of several books. His writing covers a wide range of self-improvement topics, but especially focuses on increasing productivity while reducing workload, and managing change. Visit him at EffortlessAbundance.com