Healthy Lifestyle: Easy Concept, Hard to Implement
We are bombarded with images, slogans and the perception of what a healthy lifestyle is. The thought of living a healthy lifestyle is very appealing. So, why is it so difficult to actually live the healthy lifestyle? It gets even more perplexing when you adopt healthy habits that make you feel better, then fall back into doing the unhealthy things that make you feel lousy.
It took experiencing the symptoms of my autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), to turn me onto researching and making lifestyle changes attempting to get back to feeling “normal”, whatever that is. I knew I didn’t want to live in pain, fatigued and with brain-fog any longer.
I’ve been working on the healthy lifestyle for seven years now. I definitely have tasted success, or I wouldn’t continue, but I’m amazed at how easily I fall back into my unhealthy behaviors.
I consequently developed an acronym, *FRESH* , to organize the 5 areas of changes made as an easy-to-refer-back-to-list allowing a quick reference when I felt joint pain or other symptom I thought was associated with my inflammatory disease.
To help advance my healthy lifestyle pursuit, I signed up for a healthy lifestyle class offered by the clinic I go to. It is a 12 week course aiming to develop healthy lifestyle habits and to explore the roadblocks along the way. We meet weekly, we have additional small group sessions, and are given written materials.
We were all asked to share with the class why we wanted to take the course. The reasons given were either a medical diagnosis, tired of feeling poorly, or not wanting to be a statistic. I immediately felt a part of this relatable group of “students”.
After the second session, I asked myself what the take-away was at that point. It was not what I expected. I thought about what the common sentiment was, how simple the elements of a healthy lifestyle are, but how difficult they are to live by. I was surprised by how emotional the class was. I don’t have an answer or explanation for the two observations, but they are real and I took note of them.
We were also asked to determine if a healthy lifestyle was an interest or a passion. An interest is something you want to learn about, but a passion is something you want to take action on. Adopting a healthy lifestyle will require taking action on.
In order to make the healthy lifestyle goal doable and not overwhelming, even after working on it for seven years, I decided on 3 ground rules in order to allow my desire for a healthy lifestyle to reach a new level. Here they are:
- It is a process – It will not be instant pudding. It will take practice to develop these new habits
- Start small– Make a single doable change you can build confidence with
- Be kind and forgiving to yourself– if you mess up, you can start over. Improvement, not perfection
I know how I live, my habits and my choices, are as important managing my autoimmune disease as the biologic I inject weekly. It is well worth learning about and making the changes. It does take a lot of effort. I will continue to share my discoveries, tips and information to improve the autoimmune lifestyle. I would love to hear your tips, as well! Leave then in the comments for all to see!
And that is using Arthritis Wisdom!
Photo credit: Christopher Campbell of Unsplash