We have become creatures who expect immediate gratification. I want a new pair of shoes at midnight — I can sign on to the internet, and new shoes show up at my door the following afternoon. I want to watch a TV show that went off the air three years ago — I get on Netflix and watch away. I want to pay a bill — I log into my bank account and it’s done in under a minute. I want to get physically fit and find a sense of holistic balance in my life — err … well, there’s not necessarily an app for that.
As warm weather teases, many of us are thinking about physical fitness. Either feeling more motivated to get outside and take a walk during lunch, or contemplating getting back to the gym you joined on Jan. 2 and have not returned to since. We are thinking about looking good in a bathing suit or maybe losing a few pounds. But these goals tend to be short-sighted — and folks tend to find short-term solutions to what should be part of a longer term, broader scale plan: overall good health.
The World Health Organization says that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
So really, the challenge to good health is not about losing weight or fitting into that bikini. The challenge is finding a way to balance physical, emotional and mental well-being, and to commit to taking small steps to achieve longer-term goals.
There’s a Chinese proverb that says that the man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. And in that vein, our good health means starting with baby steps. It means biting off small chunks — instead of deciding to cut all sugar out of your diet, pick a few sugar-laden regular treats and decide to cut back on those. If you do not currently have an exercise routine, don’t start with making a commitment to go to the gym five days a week for two hours a day.
Change is about forming new habits; good health requires making lifestyle changes. It’s not about immediate gratification; it’s about making small, meaningful changes.
Lisa Breslin’s article titled “Easing Into Feeling Better” explores the benefits of small, meaningful steps (See page 19).
Hanover Magazine wants to help you jump-start your lifestyle changes (specifically, exercise habits) with a challenge, too. We are looking for three readers who want to dedicate 15 minutes (or 25 minutes or 45 minutes) to an exercise routine that will help them feel better. Work with an exercise mentor, let us share your journey with Hanover Magazine readers and get into better shape. Learn more about the challenge and find out how to take part by emailing editor Lisa Breslin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good health is an ongoing and ever-evolving journey. Let the journey begin.
Kym Liddick Byrnes, Associate Editor