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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 20, 2008

Have You Decided to Be Healthy?

By Worker Bee

PonderFor 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?

striatic Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Primal Success Stories

Submit Your Own Success Story

The Biggest Myth About Cancer: That it Just “Happens”

Diet Change and Partner Dynamics

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10 Comments on "Have You Decided to Be Healthy?"


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9 years 11 months ago
I have a simple philosophy: I will live only once. I have only one body with no spare parts. So I decided to see what this body of mine can do. And I also believe that I can’t grasp all the beauty of living without living healthy. That means that I will eat cottage chease, an apple and oatmeal for breakfast but I will also once in two weeks eat a big pancake with my girlfriend, or have a beer with my friends. That means that I will workout hard atleast five times a week but I will never forget… Read more »
9 years 11 months ago
Hmmm, I fall into the ‘it’s a scary diagnosis’ group. Although, for most of my life, I’ve been healthy and active, with competitive equestrian sports through early college, and cycling/moutain biking through my 20’s. Honestly, for most of my life I took my body for granted, and didn’t pay any attention to nutrition, except at times when I needed to loose weight. Then, ta da! last year at the age of 36 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. All of the traditional treatments for RA involve reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system, often by injecting or… Read more »
9 years 11 months ago
For me it’s knowing deep down inside that I am an athlete despite my size. I come from a family of natural athletes. My younger is a professional athlete (NFL…Go Giants) and he was the least athletic of all my brothers growing up. I’ve always been quicker, faster, stronger and more agile at a higher scale weight than people half my size and I just wanted the outside to finally and truly reflect what I felt was true deep within my soul It wasn’t easy transitioning from a “dormant” athlete weighed down by a 350lb frame. But when I decided… Read more »
9 years 11 months ago

For me I want to be healthy because I feel blessed that God gave me an opportunity to live and have a chance to be somebody. And it’s worth taking care of myself so that hopefully I live a long time, and enjoy my time with those closest to me as long as possible. Plus, I refuse to be brainwashed by the medical & pharmaceutical industries who only care about profits, no way will I let them control my health when I have the freedom to take charge of it myself.

9 years 11 months ago

Why did I choose health?

Simple–I want to feel good and be happy.

9 years 11 months ago
It’s not always a specific decision you can pinpoint. I’ve always strived to live well and be healthy, but I’ve taken in new information over time about what that means and changed my decisions accordingly. I have made specific decisions in this way (to eat less grains, add in types of exercise, etc), but there was a foundation. I sense that prioritizing health is gradual for some other people too. I’ve seen friends adjust to one healthy idea at a time until they realized a trend in themselves of valuing foods and activities that promote their own health. It was… Read more »
Strong One
9 years 11 months ago

This is the year of my ‘CORE’. I’ve dedicated this year to strengthening my core and being more healthy!

9 years 11 months ago

Here’s an easy start….wait for it….stabilized rice bran (soluble version). I know, not very sexy, but nutrient-dense and effective in getting your body moving back towards health.

8 years 1 month ago

This is my first visit to this site, and while I’m not a subscriber of paleo (it’s not a great fit for me, personally) I found this article to be a great discussion between decision and goal-making. Thanks a lot for the insight 🙂

7 years 2 months ago

I’ve always been a healthy weight, but my sweet tooth was fueling terrible depression. I exercise to fight anxiety. Abstaining from sugar and grains is no longer a punishment, but a free pass to a brighter outlook on life.