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Making Health and Fitness a Priority for 2003

by Jeanne Rhodes

If you have difficulty finding time to exercise or plan healthy meals and snacks, you are not alone. A perceived lack of time is one of the most common reasons that people fail to stick to their health and fitness programs. Even people with the best of intentions find themselves overwhelmed when tugged in too many directions at once. Somehow when others need you, self-care is the thing that gets put on hold.

Many busy people do manage to eat healthfully and exercise regularly. How do they do it? By making their health and fitness a priority.

One of the qualities that characterizes success in any arena of life is an ability to take a long-range view of things, to see the total picture. Too often, we get caught up in short-term demands, and spend our time putting out fires at the expense of long-range strategical thinking and planning.

We take our health for granted until we get sick. People who swear they don’t have a minute for self-care find themselves hospitalized for bypass surgery and out of commission for weeks and months. When our bodies force us to stay in bed, we do. We somehow manage to make the time when our health becomes that strong a priority.

But why wait? Think about your future and all that you hope to do, in all the realms of your life. Isn’t your health essential for the achievement of those goals?

If you are too busy to make exercise and healthy eating a priority now, when in the near future will you be less busy? When most people ask themselves this question, they see the pace of their lives accelerating, rather than slowing down. If you are waiting for a better time to make healthy lifestyle choices a priority, you may have to wait too long.

When you see the benefits of healthy eating and exercise in your daily life, you reinforce the importance of health as a high-priority goal. Healthy foods and regular exercise are both necessary to prevent chronic disease and disability, boost your energy, help you manage stress from day to day, and keep your weight down!

While any exercise is better than none, the greatest benefits come from regular, vigorous, lifelong participation in physical activity.

Irregular exercisers encounter more frustration because they are constantly “starting over” and feeling out of shape.

People who manage to exercise regularly employ the force of habit. Exercise is a priority and part of their daily routine. Busy people still manage to exercise regularly. The most popular exercise time for the overbooked is first thing in the morning, before the rest of the world tries to derail you.

As you change to a healthier lifestyle, there will be ups and downs as you learn new habits. No human being ever learned to walk without falling down. As a toddler you knew that a few steps spoke more accurately of your POTENTIAL to walk than the many attempts to walk that failed. Keep that concept in mind - accept the occasional falls, place no significance on them - just get up again! Make 2003 your year!

Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.

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