There can be very few questions more important to answer then 'how healthy is your lifestyle.' Is your lifestyle making you ill? Is the way you live supporting your physical, mental, and emotional health, or are you hindering yourself?
Most of us have totally freedom to decide the type of lifestyle we have. Free to live life in the style we choose, eating what we want, doing what we want, and taking care of ourselves the way we want. Will our choices make us healthy or not?
It is surely one of the most important decisions we get to make in our lifetime. Many life-threatening diseases - including heart disease, emphysema, strokes, and certain forms of cancer are all linked to lifestyle factors. It is an undeniable fact that poor lifestyle habits play a big part in these illnesses occurring. By embracing a healthy lifestyle the risk of contracting these diseases can be greatly reduced.
An article I wrote 10 Essential Rules of Healthy living demonstrates the simple changes one has to adopt to create for themselves a healthy lifestyle. No matter how simple these changes are, it actually proves difficult because the things you have to stop often are deemed by you as things which give you pleasure.
So why should you stop doing things which give you pleasure? What is pleasurable in the short term can be painful in the long term. Very few people will deny the pure joy we feel when eating chocolate, but nobody deliberately chooses to be either obese or become diabetic. After all the saying goes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Yet change is hard. Stopping yourself doing something that is bad for you can be the hardest thing you ever need to do. Just ask any ex-smoker. However, these choices can be dangerous for your health, so change them you must.
The phrase 'healthy lifestyle' has been bandied about for years as how we must live if we want to look good and feel good. But more important is the fact it will be good for your health. Can there be any greater motivator?
So how do you assess your lifestyle? Of course it is important to assess your lifestyle including weight, diet, activity level, hours of sleep, amount of water you drink, alcohol intake, tobacco use, and stress levels which both individually and collectively have a profound effect on your health.
In general a healthy person doesn't smoke, tries to maintain a healthy weight, eats healthy foods with plenty of fruits, vegetables and fibre, gets good quality sleep each night, doesn't drink too much and, of course, exercises on a regular basis. They balance all the key areas in life and manage time and stress well. This way of life that they are living describes perfectly what a healthy lifestyle is. If it describes your lifestyle then you are indeed living healthily.
This is a really important distinction. A majority of people talking about a healthy lifestyle refer solely to diet and exercise. This is wrong. A healthy lifestyle covers all areas of your life including health, finance, relationships (family & friends), career, work, spirituality, social life, mindset & emotional responses, as well as your diet and fitness.
From my experience as a coach, if you are having to ask 'how healthy is your lifestyle' you already know the answer is not very.
One measurement that will help you to assess your current health is to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure if you are underweight, at a healthy weight, or overweight. This will give you an indication of how healthy is your lifestyle. It certainly doesn't give you the definitive answer.
You can go to your doctor to check your health and they will organise blood tests which can show you many areas of importance for your health. I do strongly suggest everyone should get a health check annually.
The quickest and probably pretty accurate way of assessing your lifestyle, and coming up with your definitive answer of how healthy your lifestyle is, is to think about these 10 different key areas of your life. You will see which areas of life are going well for you and which may not be going so well and therefore in which areas you need to make the biggest changes.
So to determine how healthy your lifestyle is you really have to look at all these key areas of your life.
- Relationships (family & friends),
- Social life,
- Mindset & emotional responses,
Now think about each of these areas and ask yourself how well am I doing in this area? Mark yourself on a scale of one to ten. One being bad 10 being great, and 5 being pretty average. Having done this you now clearly should see the areas that are letting your lifestyle down and hence where you need to bring about improvements.
Changing everything all at once is not realistic, but making many small changes gradually will improve your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and help you to enjoy your life more.
Your next step will be to begin making the changes.
Start small by making one or two changes at a time to your lifestyle so as to ensure you are giving yourself the best of health now and in the future. Your health and your lifestyle are too important to be getting wrong so start today.