Fostering Healthy Habits for Running and Life

The current political and social climate being what it is has led to more and more individuals preoccupied with family life, health, and personal achievement to the point that there seems to be very little room left for much else. Add to that the complexities involved in varying lifestyle choices and these days the average person is just concerned with trying to balance their hectic agenda with minimum intrusions and affect to their standard routine. Many people like the “idea” of fit and healthy and will often do the minimal amount to maintain somewhat of a proper diet and exercise to warrant no ER visits without many realizing that fit and healthy is so much more than food and the odd exercise session. It is a conscious decision to live in harmony with nature while maximizing the gifts (physically, spiritually, and opportunities) we have been blessed with. Things can seem even more exhausting for a runner and fit fanatic like myself, for whom constant diet and exercise is par for the course as healthy living is a prevailing occupation.

The challenge to juggle a regular daily schedule topped off with training, which is often the case for a runner, means that some area of life almost always ends up being neglected. Over the years, I’ve learnt by trial and error that finding the right balance often means the ability to compromise and sacrifice the things we want for what we need. Of course I’m a work-in-progress and learning new things everyday, but in the event you’re open and constantly striving for healthy perfection, as I am, here are a few things I’ve learnt over my running years:

  • Goals are as necessary as breathing. They provide a basis or template to guide your actions and hold you accountable, ensuring that you’re not here, on this earth, just taking up space. List them, update them, revise them and accomplish them.
  • Recognize each day as an opportunity to gain headway in your pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. First things first. Wake up with intent, put your plans before God and allow Him the space during the day to help you carry them out.
  • Determine to love yourself and treat you with the love and care you deserve or no one else will. This means making a studied effort to eat foods that contribute to your physical health and overall well-being. Particularly, snack healthy.
  • Rest well. Getting between 6-8 hours sleep at night allows you to be rested and ready to face the day. A quick power nap during the day, for those who can’t quite make the necessary 6-8 hours, works wonders to help you finish the day strong.
  • Exercise daily. A quick run or slow jog or any other type or combination of exercise (at least 30 minutes) that strays from your routine and increases your heart rate, gets your adrenaline pumping and engages your core muscles encourages good health, engages you productively, helps you sleep better, and leaves you feeling positive and empowered.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, which has the power to draw you out of your comfort zone, shake up a boring routine, and cause you to engage and develop new skills and abilities. In fact, challenge yourself ever so often to explore your limits and boundaries in the areas of sport, exercise and adventure. This will add variety and fun to your running and/or journey and keeps life interesting.
  • Contribute to and/ or invest in what you are passionate about. Whatever form it takes, make it meaningful and beneficial to those less fortunate. There are few things more important that letting others know they matter and nothing more rewarding than being a blessing wherever you can.
  • Enjoy running or what you do. While it may be hard and challenging a lot of times, remember nothing worth having ever comes easy. Stay committed by constantly giving yourself pep talks; becoming a member of the community (eg., join a running club or group) who will provide encouragement, support and accountability; educate yourself on the sport; and sign up for some short races and fun runs. It’s like getting indoctrinated into a lifestyle and will change your life.
  • It is often said to surround yourself with yay sayers and it’s true. Giving yourself the best support network there is can help you to realize your true potential. This can take the form of people in your circle, activities, and things; for example, running gear, sneakers and running- related paraphernalia take up a huge junk of my closet space and can be seen throughout my apartment. It speaks for what I’m about and keeps me focused on what matters to me.
  • See failure, and it will come, as an opportunity to try again only with a better idea or a better plan. Don’t allow it to define who you are or what you do. Ask yourself what was the lesson learnt and go out there next time and crush it.
  • Finally, it is often said we are our worst critic; while it is necessary to hold yourself to a high standard, don’t be afraid to recognise and reward yourself when you’ve earned it. Yes there will be, try as you might not to, those berating sessions and self-recriminations but also be the one first one to clap yourself on the back, give yourself a high five, or a hug, and take the credit when it’s due. Reward yourself for your achievements and for a job well done. Be your number one fan (but don’t go crazy). Stay humble and real and above all else, like Shakespeare says, “to thine own self be true.”

In closing, I’d love to tell you that all this is easy and will just get itself done if you say it often enough but the truth, and most of us know this, is that nothing gets done without application, commitment and an overall can do attitude powered by gratitude for who you are, what you have ( ie., your abilities) and the opportunity you have to make a difference in your little corner of the map. An attitude of gratitude will go a long way in cultivating an environment of growth, success and personal excellence.

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