What Are You Willing to Do for the People You Love?

What are you willing to do for the people you love? This question is inspired by a commercial that I watched recently about the dangers of smoking ending with the quote, “The People You Love Are Worth Quitting For.”

Unfortunately, we usually don’t think about our health until we get sick, suffer a major illness or are diagnosed with a life changing condition. Only after the “wake-up call” are we motivated to start taking our health seriously.

And it should not be a surprise that more attention is paid to being sick than staying well. Historically in the United States, more thought has been given to the treatment of illness and chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease rather than prevention.

Yet, healthy lifestyle habits not only help you prevent illness and chronic disease, but they also improve your overall wellbeing. You will not only increase the likelihood that you will live free of illness and disease, but also improve the quality of life that you live with others.

The reality is that integrating healthy lifestyle habits and maintaining those habits is the best gift that you can give yourself and those that you love.

For years, I have spoken to audiences big and small about the importance of a healthy lifestyle because I have witnessed firsthand the negative consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle. My mother died from a massive stroke at age 42 and my father died from complications from diabetes at age 71. I have also seen many loved ones suffer the consequences of their unhealthy lifestyle decisions. Our family cemetery is filled with family members whose unhealthy lifestyle contributed to painful years of illness and early death.

An unhealthy lifestyle not only increases your risk of chronic diseases but also increases the likelihood that your loved ones will witness and/or suffer the consequences of your unhealthy lifestyle choices. In addition to the grief and loss experienced with death, it is often loved ones that have to step in to care for those that have failed to care for themselves through illness.

I have watched how with great anguish and sacrifice, children, siblings, or spouses of family members cared for sick loved ones because they could no longer care for themselves; not because of an unexpected accident or unforeseen circumstance, but because of unhealthy decisions.

Take responsibility for your own health.

I understand that there are times when illness attacks even healthy people, but we must each take responsibility for our own health, if not for ourselves for those that we love. Why would you want to burden your children, family members or other loved ones with the responsibility of caring for you because you failed to take care of yourself?

I believe that we have an ethical responsibility to take care of ourselves so that our loved ones don’t have to!

This may be hard to hear but significant change typically only happens when we are made to feel uncomfortable or challenged.

Are the ones you love worth living healthy for?

If the answer is yes.  Set your mind and make the decision that you are going to start making healthier lifestyle decisions now. Remember, it starts with you.

Start by committing to becoming a healthier version of yourself. Ask yourself, “How can I be healthier today than I was yesterday?”

Remember that health does not only apply to physical health but mental health as well. Give serious thought to what you can do physically and mentally to improve your overall health.

Set weekly physical health goals that motivate you to take action each and every day.

I always say that there are 168 hours in a week, and if you can be at least moderately physically active and/or exercise for at least five to seven hours each week, about 45-60 minutes each day, you will experience significant health benefits.

Remember, you are what you eat.

So, try to eat a balanced and healthy diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean animal or plant protein, healthy fats and drink plenty of water.

Set daily mental health goals that remind you to nurture yourself and those around you.

Don’t forget to take personal breaks throughout the day to do my four R’s:  release, reflect, rejuvenate and restart. Release what is unnecessary, reflect on what is important, rejuvenate your mind and body and restart your plans of action with newly acquired knowledge and strength.

Also, make time for “love connections” by intentionally connecting with someone you love, either via text, phone call, or in-person conversation.

It is important to say that you do not have to be perfect, but you do have to be intentional with your actions. I always say, “What you do, determines you” and in this case, what you do determines your life and the quality of the life you live with others.

Living a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee that you will never become ill, but it does show your loved ones that your love for them and hopefully your love for yourself is enough to try!

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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