Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Revolutionary Way to Be Healthy #10: See the Bigger Picture | Pilar Gerasimo

There are an overwhelming number of ways to maintain good health. The variations for maintaining good health  are as abundant as the number of people.

Your health effects those all around you. Good health and vitality influence your friends,family and co-workers.

Typically, when we want to check our health and fitness progress, we step on the scaleor look in the mirror. But when it comes to well-being, what you see isn't always what you get -- or at least, not all that you get.
We've been inclined to believe that pursuing health and fitness is predominantly self-focused, and that we alone stand to profit from the results.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly, whenever we change our lives for the healthier, there's a lot in it for us as individuals: more energy, strength, confidence, vitality, mental clarity, better moods, improved appearance, lower disease risks, and so on.
But there's just as much in it (if not more) for all the people, places, and projects that we touch during the course of our daily lives.
They imply that the central rewards of health and fitness are largely derived from appearing healthy and fit, and by extension, from impressing others (or avoiding their judgment).
And so, within the vast and deep slipstream of positive results created by healthy lifestyle changes, we've tended to focus on only a comparatively narrow and superficial band.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to achieve appearance-related changes. In fact, the aesthetic rewards that go along with healthy body transformations have some very real superpowers. (I'll get to those in a moment.)
But in many cases, some of the biggest payoffs of our healthy changes have less to do with us than with the people, places, and things that matter most to us.
The reality: When you make even a modest improvement in your health status, or in even a single health habit, a whole bunch of people around you invariably benefit -- regardless of whether they (or you) happen to realize it at the time. And being even marginally aware of this dynamic can serve as a powerful intrinsic motivator.
Psychological research suggests that intrinsic motivators (those connected with our sense of enjoyment, value, or meaning) are dramatically more powerful and long lasting than extrinsic motivators (those connected with our desire to impress others, win material rewards, avoid punishments, or comply with social expectations).
By expanding your awareness of the potential intrinsic rewards embedded in the fabric of your life, you can tap into a new reservoir of motivation. The kind of meaningful motivation that comes in very handy on those days when bikini-body and flat-abs promises seem to have lost their luster, and the appeal of eating caramel corn in front of the television seems especially strong.
Here are just a few bigger-picture factors to keep in view.
  • Relationships. Your level of health, vitality, self-esteem, and equanimity all powerfully influence how you show up for other people. Reflect on what you are like to be around when you are healthy versus unhealthy. Think about how your needs, resources, and capacity shift, and the potential support or pressure that shift creates for others (family, friends, kids, coworkers). As you get healthier and happier, the people closest to you are the most likely to benefit -- and to be inspired by your example.
  • Professional Chops. We tend to accomplish a great deal more when we are strong, clear-headed, and confident than when we are sick, tired, and "meh." Which is why most employers today are less concerned about absenteeism than"presenteeism" -- an increasingly common dynamic in which people physically show up at work but don't contribute much. The level of drive and focus you have available to bring to your career and creative pursuits depends heavily on your level of physical, mental, and emotional health.
  • Community. The healthier you are, the more surplus energy and attention you can contribute to causes and community efforts. It's much harder to get out and volunteer, to be engaged with your neighbors, to focus on communal concerns, when you aren't feeling your best. Which is why health-motivated people are often the ones who start community gardens, launch local walking and yoga groups, advocate for healthier school lunches, and crusade for other healthy causes.
  • Storytelling. As you shift your life, and as you share the story of your journey, you create a bread-crumb trail for others to follow. This can have surprising and long-lasting effects -- many you will never know about, and, likely, some that will outlive you.
  • Silent Influence. As you go about your healthy business, other people notice and may begin to model their behavior on yours. The visible changes in your body can function as a superpower catalyst for others ("You look amazing! What are you doing differently these days?"), but ultimately it's learning what you know, and seeing what you do, that winds up having the biggest impact. And don't forget about your healthy diaspora: All the people you inspire will ultimately go out and inspire a whole bunch more people.
I had a neat experience recently that illustrated this last point for me. A woman I helped many years ago -- an overstressed nurse practitioner who was then going through a health and life crisis of her own -- wound up getting some coaching that I recommended based on my own experience.  She shifted her daily priorities and choices, started taking better care of herself, got trained in functional medicine, and, to my surprise, wound up becoming one of the first members of the medical team at Life Time's new LT Proactive Care Clinic. (For more of her story, see "The Nurse Who Learned to Heal Herself First".)

Nurses, care givers go the extra mile to help others, and they forget the most important person who requires nourishing. THEMSELVES. 

So go ahead: Look in the mirror -- and see the bigger picture. When you change your life for the better, everyone around you changes for the better too, even if only by having witnessed the changes you've made and realizing they are possible.
"Get Your Groove Back" -- Dr. Frank Lipman on why finding your body's natural sleep cycle and circadian rhythms is the key to strength, vitality and wellness.
"Fearless Health" -- Worrying excessively about our well-being can do us more harm than good. Here's how to keep your health concerns in perspective.
"With Power, Responsibility" -- It's time for us to start taking better care of our amazing bodies -- and for healthcare to start raising its game.
"Fresh Start: A Spring Detox Guide" -- Say goodbye to internal grime and grunge. Your body is begging you to take out the trash!
Pilar Gerasimo is a nationally recognized healthy-living expert, author of A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed-Up World, and the creative force behind the 101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy. She serves as senior vice president of Healthy Living for Life Time, the Healthy Way of Life Company, and is currently working on a book about the art of being healthy in an unhealthy world. Learn more about Pilar's work and connect with her via social media at
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