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Friday, December 20, 2013

Making the Switch to a Healthier Lifestyle

The following is a guest blog entry. 

I think it came to me about a year ago. I was sitting on the couch going over my finances. It didn't take me very long to realize that a great deal of my monthly earnings were going towards bad habits - cigarettes, alcohol, junk food, etc. The hit this was having on my wallet was nothing in comparison to what it was doing to my body, however. Still young, I had age on my side, but the lack of energy and slow accumulation of flab that came along with my lifestyle were beginning to rear their ugly heads.

Deciding to Make a Change

There's no getting around the fact that guilt can have a dramatic impact on life experience. As time went on, I began to feel increasingly bad each time I would go to the store for a pack of cigarettes or a case of beer. This was becoming no more than a raw habit, and I knew I needed to make a change. It started off slowly as I'd say to myself "maybe I'll only have one or two drinks tonight instead of going crazy like I normally do on a Friday."

I'd tell people that I was looking to make some changes in my life, but no one in my circle of friends really believed me. They all said that "moderation" is a tease and that the only way to really achieve my goals would be to quit everything altogether. I try to think that life is quite a bit less black and white than this, however, and it actually angered me that they felt this way. It was at that moment that I decided I was going to take control of my life and make the changes I wanted to see happen.

Setting Things Into Motion

One thing that I needed to make clear for myself was that I was going to have a way to track my progress, so I set up a spreadsheet and decided that each day I would journal about my goals and keep track of the changes I'd made. I had one column listing how much alcohol I'd allot myself in a given week and was determined to stick to it. I had a "notes" section that would allow me to list small changes that would inevitably make a huge difference in my overall health. I wanted to go to my spreadsheet as soon as I made the move to switch to an electronic cigarette or substitute fatty foods for organic fruits and vegetables. Being a detail-oriented person, it was essential that I had a way of tracking the changes I was making in my life, and it worked.

As time went on, I started taking on more and more tasks to help push my life in the right direction. Once I had changed my diet and quit smoking traditional cigarettes, I successfully lowered my alcohol intake and started going to the gym. I knew that if I didn't start slow with the latter that I would fall off quickly, so I stuck to 3x per week with the intention of ramping things up as time went on. Much to my delight, it took a mere few weeks until I was able to push this up to 4x per week and then 5x per week after that. It seemed as if the more I took my time with all of this, the faster I was seeing change.

The Takeaway

In the end, I realized that the one thing that was keeping me from living a healthier lifestyle was pretty easy to pinpoint; I needed a reason. It was my friends' doubts that really caused me to rise to the occasion, and I can't thank them enough today for the differences that one conversation made in my life.

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