June 20, 2013

Is the Motivation to Stay Healthy Worth the Sacrifice?

Courtesy of Flickr/Matthew Ragan

We have rolled into that time of year when the holidays are long gone, resolution madness has all been somewhat forgotten, and summer (and baring it all) is here.

I’m not necessarily referring to the naked body, per se, but the ability to commit to a “cleanse of the heart, mind, and soul”.

We have such incredible and sound intentions on looking good for the summer; we eat right, we tweak a few things in our daily regimens, we furiously exercise to appear to look healthy on the outside, and we even pop just the right pills to combat any setbacks or negative unhealthy behaviors.

It’s a solid goal, for sure.

That desire has to start somewhere, and if your mind is into it, then surely the body will follow. This is the script running around our heads every summer season. “Now that I’ve made it this far, do I keep going, or do I simply enjoy this relaxing and fun time off with nary a care in the world?”

Ah, the monkey mind playing tricks on the body by negotiating with itself—it’s common. It gives us a reason to feel that we can reward ourselves after months of healthy behaviors, by letting them all take a back seat until the autumn months.

Summer is supposed to be three months of time off. After all, the sacrifice to maintain healthy behaviors (no caffeine, exercise every day, implement meditation into our daily practice, be kind to one another, appreciate the beauty in everything) is just getting off the ground. Why would we want to jeopardize that?

Because staying healthy is a way of life.

It’s saying to yourself, “This moment, this day, I have decided to be the best me I can be, and do the best I can”. Boom! No sacrifice needed to implement this plan. It’s a simple plan, and if done with commitment, there never needs to be a sacrifice. It just becomes habit.

Staying healthy is whatever you decide works for you, and giving it your undying attention. When one endeavor has been accomplished, cross that off your list, and tackle the next one.  It doesn’t always have to be pretty—it doesn’t always have to be what everyone else is doing.

As a matter of fact, listening to your inner voice will guide you into the behaviors that are ready to be altered; allow your gut to be your guide.

But—and here is a big but—what if we continually stayed motivated to the logic and committed endeavor that is before us, yet it doesn’t seem to be perfect? Who cares! Taking that one step towards staying healthy inside and out is huge. It isn’t scary.

It took me years (literally and figuratively) to implement a home yoga practice—it began with a radical change of how I started my day. The money spent on classes was gone. I had a deep yearning to learn more about yoga and my own abilities.

I had been a devout yoga class woman for many many years; then, I simplified—I became resourceful. I made do with what I had.

The result was continually reading yoga magazines with various tear-out sections on postures for hip openers (mine are perpetually tight), carving out the morning time for a solid hour to stretch and strengthen, setting up a few candles and a wooden Buddha figurine in the room to give me that inspiration, finding the space in my apartment (small quarters), or even going outside poolside with the sunrise in my face, and having a decent mat to practice on.

My motivation was the desire to remain limber and agile as I age, to calm my mind and prepare it for the days’ events, and to feel as though I could remain open to any possibilities.

Was it worth the sacrifice of not being an early bird in the workforce? You betcha. I made the choice to put my health as my primary motivator for everything I do. From work, to connections, to relationships, to life. People scratched their heads on the changes at first, but over time, it became just a way of life.

It works for me—it’s simple and honest and true.

The motivation to stay healthy starts with the desire. Sacrificing some aspect of your life will reward you in the end, however it looks. Self-indulgence is a motivator, and can be driven by your health, your heart connections and the lasting effects of change.

Perhaps what was once deemed a “sacrifice” is now the purpose for all opportunity and growth.

Summer is the best time for anything and everything that makes us feel good about who we are.



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Gerry Ellen  |  Contribution: 13,620