For some people, it’s a New Year’s resolution. For others, the scare of a close friend’s or relative’s illness. Maybe it’s a scary diagnosis of their own. Oftentimes, it’s a long pondered goal. Yet even when it’s more of a “spur of the moment” pledge, the decision to be healthy usually comes after good thought and consideration.
What exactly is that path of pondering, mulling, imagining that eventually brings us to resolve? What plants the seed of possibility? Who and what figures into the picture as we turn things over in our minds and think about how our health could or should be? Where, even, do we end up inspired to finally make a change? (The doctor’s office, a blog community, a local walking club, a family trip, the bathroom scale?)
For each of us, assuredly, that path is/was different. Perhaps we’d been very healthy at one time in our lives and wanted to return to that level of activity and enjoyment. Perhaps we’ve felt dogged by obesity or otherwise poor health as long as we can remember but cling to the idea that life can be more after all. A lucky few of us had always enjoyed good health and fitness but wanted to push it to the next level after a spirit of competitiveness, new information, or a different perspective (e.g. PB?) made us think differently about how we were doing things.
What’s likely common in our journeys is a nagging feeling and eventual acknowledgment that we’re not living the life we ultimately want. We could/should do better for ourselves. For some of us, we see it first in the context of others, often our partners or kids: we should take better care of ourselves for their sakes. But either way, we begin to value ourselves more highly and see that our physical health goes hand in hand with what we have to experience and offer in this life.
Eventually, it hits us: if we want to be healthy, we must make the decision to be healthy. This realization, we’d say, is a watershed moment, a turning point when our desire becomes more than a castle in the air, a lofty goal we like to think about for the future. In this moment and its decision, the choice for health becomes the way we live.
And that’s the difference between a goal and a decision. A goal is an eventual point of success. Sure, it requires work and dedication along the way, but the focus is too often on a future, fixed point. A decision is present resolve that permeates every moment, starting with the here and now. It’s not an image of success that we project our desires onto. It’s what we make of each day we’re living on this earth.
Does that mean every single choice in a day has to neatly and perfectly line up with what’s ideally healthy? No. As we say, we make compromises, hopefully conscious ones. But either way, our decision remains a constant, the overarching, dynamic design of our lives. A fixed goal or strict set of dictatorial parameters are problematic. It’s too easy to feel derailed and suddenly on the outside of those margins, where we slide back into whatever habits and practices we clung to before.
When you make a decision to lead a healthy life, however, you don’t put a goal at the center. You put yourself there. You situate yourself at the core of your life. There’s no straying from that. No excuses will change it or overturn it. You put yourself and your concept of health at the center, the heart, of your life. And that’s when it dawns on you: your health and wellness (the balance, the energy, the vitality it brings) is a vital center that supports every aspect of your life and self.
It’s the critical step that makes the difference for so many of us. It’s oftentimes not so much learning new or more information, but seeing it with new eyes. It’s seeing health from a new vantage point. It’s finally surveying health from the center rather than as some distant, pining observer.
And that’s when you can begin to build support around that center, add things and people to your life to help reinforce the decision (like reading MDA – wink, wink). You can begin to weave the way you live day-to-day into that remarkable choice, the decision to be, to live, healthy.
What are your thoughts on choosing health: your watershed moments, your motivations? What led you to make the decision to be healthy?