Deep down, you know that you need to change your lifestyle habits, but hiking barefoot in the dead of winter seems easier than taking the next step toward change. I am here to help you cultivate sustainable and soulful lifestyle changes in your health and wellness that last.
Unless faced with a health crisis or problematic symptoms, most of us see little need for lifestyle changes. Sometimes it’s the sobering lab result that moves us to change.
Photo: Abby Anaday
The myth of the magic pill or plan
Beyond dispute, the health and wellness industry bombards us with products that promise an easy fix. The myth of a magic pill or magic drink tempts us to ignore the need for a long-term lifestyle change.
At every turn, advertisers relentlessly market products that supposedly defy science by blocking the “bad stuff” in processed foods.
We can’t rely on a product to break our bad habits or repair damage from poor choices. Rather than pursue instant gratification, we ought to view healthy living like running a long race.
Put off until there is a problem.
When it comes to health and wellness, maybe you practice the reactive approach. You won’t worry about your diet or exercise unless there is a problem. And then, if there is a problem, you will want to fix what is wrong with a prescription.
Until my diagnosis with acute Lyme Disease, I assumed that I fostered a decent health and wellness plan. After the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, I soon realized that what little I did for my health and wellness saved me from immediate hospitalization.
The disease ravaged my body, but not as viciously as it could have. I was able to repair the damage to my body by building from a stable reserve.
It took years to recover from Lyme Disease fully, and during that time, I had to develop an even more robust lifestyle of healthy living.
God doesn’t care about what you eat.
If our lifestyle habits and food choices prevent us from serving God and others from a place of spiritual and physical wholeness, then we need to think about a plan for change.
Seek to honor God with all of your choices. Undeniably, since we are creatures that eat, food plays a significant role in our daily living.
Josh Philpot, pastor, and Type I Diabetic reminds us that:
It’s time to make change a priority.
The writer G.K. Chesterton’s beloved fictional character Father Brown said, “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.
Even at the threshold of a chronic illness, we still may be reluctant to break away from our old ways.
Lifestyle impacts health.” Nearly half of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease. Obesity affects approximately 93.3 million Americans.” These statistics tell us that many people faced a health crisis before the global pandemic.
And maybe you suffer from one of these chronic illnesses or conditions. There is no judgment. There is a willingness to offer help to take small steps toward making change a priority.
View health and wellness as a soulful practice
The Christian life is about doing all things to the glory of God, but do we exclude what we eat and drink or our health in that statement?
We willingly share our struggles with money, marriage, and parenting. But discussions about our eating habits and food choices are often off-limits.
How we treat our bodies is as important as how we treat our spiritual growth.
You can incorporate health as part of your daily rhythms, no different than Bible reading or prayer. Schedule it, plan for it.
A soulful health and wellness practice is a repeated, embodied activity routinely enact and motivated by a desire to glorify God.
Tell others about your change.
Once you choose to make health and wellness a priority, then tell your family and friends. Without hesitating, join a community of people who understand your desire and support your decision for change.
Set Goals for lifestyle changes
One way to make change a priority is to set realistic goals or SMART goals. My Healthy Eating Starter Kit provides templates to design weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals.
Create a plan for your lifestyle changes in 4 areas
Progress in your health and wellness will be a journey forward and upward with obstacles along the way. At times it will seem like you are bushwacking a trail.
You are forging a new path that will take you two steps forward then back a few steps. The most important thing to remember is to move forward in navigating your journey of change.
My 7-Day Healthy Eating Challenge offers a simple framework to kickstart a lifestyle change. The challenge prompts you to set a start date, which will prevent you from procrastinating about taking the next step.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. A healthy eating plan includes food grown in nature, mostly plants. Avoid processed and refined foods.
It’s that simple.
Knowing that there is not a one-size-fits-all meal plan gives you the freedom to enjoy a buffet of real foods that nurture and sustain your body.
Walking is a great way to get physical activity, boost your mood, and manage stress. You can walk a tree-lined street in your neighborhood, visit a park, or green space.
Less structured, movement includes basic physical activity that provides health benefits as well.
Daily physical activities like yardwork/gardening, walking the dog, parking further away from the entrance to a store, or taking the steps instead of the escalator, contribute to physical wellness.
Sleep and rest
Sleep helps fight infections, supports the metabolism of sugar to prevent diabetes, and enhances performance in daily activities.
Rest is of particular concern if you are battling or managing a chronic disease.
- establish a bedtime routine
- get to bed early
- avoid electronics an hour before bed
- darken the room
- diffuse essential oils that induce relaxation and sleep
Stress is the thief that abducts our joy. It pillages our physical and mental energy, which compromises our emotional wellness.
Unsplash: Gabriela Sanca
Set goals that help you to manage stress. In the article Reduce Stress With these Natural and Soulful Ways. Add some of these ideas to your health and wellness plan and then set goals for this area.
Redesigning the flow of your day depends on the stage of life you are in right now. If you are a mom with a houseful of busy, curious toddlers, consider doing what Brother Lawrence did and practice the presence of God. He turned even the most menial and mundane tasks into a “living hymn to the glory of God.”
Are you over-scheduled? Pinpoint the problematic areas and decide if you can reschedule, eliminate, or delegate.
Create a blueprint for your healthy lifestyle changes
In the beginning, it’s best to focus your time and energy in performing your eating plan, developing an exercise schedule, devise a bedtime routine, and combat stress. These incremental steps will form a gradual change that lasts.