I spent the better part of last week in Tampa talking to different folks about how they manage (or don’t manage) their health. Their employer provides health coaching to them at work, and as one of their coaches, I have the privilege of being at their side to navigate them through the process of improving their health. It’s amazing and I love it.
Anyway, I almost always have the same question for everyone who tells me about the changes they want to make in their health: why? Why not just stay like you are now? And, almost everyone has the same answer: they want to feel better.
I love that answer because feeling better is great, and it’s completely within our reach. Feeling good is easy, and we all have the skills to feel better almost instantly. I don’t mean the way eating ice cream makes you feel better. That’s pretend. I mean the kind of feeling you get when you’ve done something that makes you feel proud, or when you have been exercising for a few weeks and you notice you have more energy in the afternoons. Even when you make the choice to skip the second helping of mashed potatoes and have some more water instead. It might not feel awesome right at that moment, but later on….I know you’re glad you did that.
That brings me to my next question: what makes you feel better? This answer is brings a smile to their faces: exercise! Then the stories start to come out. “A while back I was walking every morning with my friend, I felt so much better and I really had more energy.” Or, “my physical therapist gave me these stretches to do, and when I do them I feel better, but I stopped.” Or my favorite, “I used to exercise all the time. I even taught exercise classes! I really liked it!” This is where I do an internal high five with myself, because having previous positive experiences with healthy habits makes it so much easier to get back into them, so I know these people are about to start feeling better really soon.
And then I have to ask: why on earth did you stop doing this magical thing that made you so happy?!? Studies show that the most common reason why people fall out of exercise habits is a change of environment, such as a new job; an injury or illness, whether themselves or someone they care for; or a schedule change that compromises their time. I get it. There is a lot going on.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much exercise to make you feel better. In fact, it doesn’t take much of any healthy habit to make you feel better. As soon as you start, you feel better immediately. Instant success.
And friends, all we really have is how we feel. If you think back to times when you spent time worrying about something that might happen, or being angry with someone who had long since moved on from your dispute, you lived in that feeling. Worry and anger were your life. When you think about times when you were content with life, enjoying the people around you, and taking good care of yourself, you lived there. Happy and satisfied were your life. All we have is how we feel, and how we feel is where we live.
So, if you know that there is something really easy to do - getting a bit of exercise and making nutrition choices that make you feel proud - that leads to you feeling good, do that thing. Do it every day! Then, you get to feel good every day. And you get all the credit, too!
Now, of course that doesn’t mean every day will be good. No, we all know it doesn’t work that way. But, the feel-good benefits of those little habits make it easier to get through a bad day and get back to feeling good again soon.
If exercise makes you feel better, do it. If eating healthy makes you feel better, do it. The power to feel better every day is within you, and you can start now.