“I just can’t wait to be healthy” .
A patient had just described to me how she is eating so much healthier – lots of veggies whole grains, gave up fried food and soda. How she is exercising five days a week and really enjoying it. She has more energy, stamina, and feels better about herself. BUT…. only lost one pound in two weeks! All that work and ONLY one pound! She was feeling discouraged, believing she was far from her goal.
So we reviewed her goal – to feel better and be healthier.
We reviewed the facts. There is no doubt about it, she is feeling so much better, mentally and physically.
We reviewed the scientific evidence that improving fitness level improves health. Despite family history, medical issues, elevated body weight – regular moderate exercise improves fitness level and this alone improves health and gives added protection from many diseases and illnesses.
Feeling better mentally also improves health. Simply by taking charge of her lifestyle and making some changes, she feels so much more positive and energized. This positive mental state sends signals to the body to continue to grow strong and healthy.
Life can be a waiting game, can’t it?
Waiting to hear the results of a medical test, to lose weight, to get active again when winter ends, to relax on vacation, to get a new job or home, to eat healthy again after the busy season….
In this lifelong waiting game, we can easily put off improving health and being well.
Science tells us that how we wait matters… a lot.
While we wait we can either trigger the chain reaction of the fight / flight / freeze system or the relax and restore system. We can strengthen or suppress our immune system. We can disconnect from our support systems or strengthen this healing connection. We can focus on limited resources or creatively find new ones.
The choice is ours, in each moment.
In NO WAY is this easy! Especially when the stakes are high. Especially when the outcome is in the control of others.
Nor does it come naturally to our brain that is purposely hardwired to focus on the negative and dismiss the positive.
So what can we do?
No matter what we are waiting for, we always have the present moment. Our breath, our choices, our thoughts, our beliefs and values – turns out these are very powerful tools in being well while waiting.
It all starts with simply noticing when we are putting off well-being. Then, taking that “sacred pause” – a deep slow breath or two. A choice to redirect thoughts, move the body, let go of some tension, fuel our body well, connect with someone, be creative, be kind and compassionate to ourselves.
Most importantly, let go of perfection here – something is way better than nothing!
We can choose to take charge where we can, and let go of the rest – over and over and over again.
What are we waiting for?
Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC