This month starts the beginning of the fall season, traditionally a time when cooler weather brings fitness devotees back into the gym to renew their commitment to a regular exercise routine in lieu of the whimsical activities of summer-time schedules. Something about that first whiff of autumn sends athletes of all skill levels scurrying towards the nearest workout facility - perhaps it is the memory of past Thanksgiving food hangovers that ignites the Pavlovian response to prepare the body and mind for holiday overindulgence, but regardless of the motivation, anyone with the will and determination to make positive changes to their lifestyle can benefit from sacrificing those habits that provide comfort in the short term, but may compromise good health and happiness in the long term. For thirty days, starting as soon as humanly possible, make an effort to improve the physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional parts of yourself by giving up or cutting back on harmful behaviors and increasing behaviors that contribute to a consistent sense of well-being. Making a plan helps:
Physical: Identify your physical strengths and sign up for an event or activity that allows you to share your skills to benefit others. Consider a running or biking race that benefits a charitable organization, or join a dance group that performs in community or senior centers. Consider the Heroes for Hope race Bridges to Breakers – Helmets for Kids Century Bike Ride, or volunteer with Portland Public Schools to teach fitness, dance, or music to youth in the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) program.
Mental: When you encounter difficulty with the plan you’ve prepared for yourself, be kind and compassionate, as you would be towards others. Instead of viewing your struggle as a sign of weakness, consider it an opportunity to strengthen your internal conversation, and keep those positive affirmations at the forefront of your mental dialogue. Pick a mantra and go with it – rely on whatever catchphrase you need to remind yourself that you are your own ambassador of good health.
Spiritual: Dedicate some time every day during the next thirty days to nurture your spiritual self through meditation, taking the time to acknowledge that you are not alone in this world but are connected to a great source of love and protection, regardless of whether or not you can name that source. Give thanks for the blessings in your life and accept the sense of renewal that comes from genuine gratitude.
Social/Emotional: Nurture your ability to attend to relationships on an as-needed basis. Consider that conflict occurs from either too much or too little attention, and strive to balance the independent and dependent aspects of your personality so that you are able to give and receive attention with a kind heart.
Using this example as a guide, create your own plan for the next thirty days, print it out, and place it where you will see it every day and especially during those times you feel tempted to revert to old behaviors. Most importantly, acknowledge progress, whether big or small, as a positive sign that you are heading in the right direction, towards a lifetime of optimal health and vitality.