We are all on a path through life. In fact, we get to choose the path we take. As we travel down the path there are many forks and turn offs to other paths. We meet people on the path who may direct us in a different direction. We choose whether we join them on that path or not. There are paths that lead to love. Some lead to friendships. Others lead to fortune, while a few lead to fame. Some paths are easy to traverse and others more difficult. Some paths even lead to nowhere.
Let’s look at the paths to health. I like to think of life in terms of positive choices and negative choices. When we make them, however, we don’t always know whether they will turn out positively or negatively. On a sheet of paper draw a line from top to bottom down the middle. Positive is on the right side and negative is on the left side of the line. For each positive decision or path we take, we move one notch to the right or positive side. For each negative decision we make we move one notch or position to the left of the line.
Let’s say each positive decision balances each negative decision, although the magnitude of each decision is really dramatically different. But for simplicity sake, we’ll say they all count equally. If we make 3 bad eating decisions we are 3 notches into the negative side. It will take 4 positive decisions to get back to positive territory. When we are attempting to lose weight this happens often. Throughout the week we make many positive choices and move well into the positive healthy zone. The weekend comes and we let go and now we start Monday over in the negative zone. This causes the up and down weight fluctuations.
We must learn to make a much higher number of positive choices than negative on an ongoing basis to make weight loss a long term reality. The path to health requires many more positive health choices than negative. Let’s say eating a donut is a negative choice when attempting to lose weight. A single donut won’t kill us or cause us to gain much weight. Nothing wrong with that choice if 90 percent of our other eating choices were positive. Same goes for a slice of pizza or a piece of birthday cake. They are part of the spice and fun of life, but too many of these treats will drive us to the negative side of health.
When we start a weight loss plan we focus on the big components. We get a particular diet type in mind, join the gym, hire a trainer, create a log, and even get a partner to do it with us for accountability. These are all great and can definitely help get to the desired results. The real answer to getting lean and fit lies in the small components. The little things make all the difference in the world.
Each little positive decision throughout the day added up over time creates an environment where our body can only become thinner, fit, and strong. These small day to day paths we take will lead us to having a body we can be proud of and one that will serve us for a lifetime and a long one at that. Many years ago I tried the Adkins diet. A gentleman I knew was helping me get started. As I moved through the plan, I asked how many carbs would throw me out of ketosis. He said, “ONE CROUTON”! Now, I doubted that was true, but it made a point. It is the little things that make all the difference.
We must focus on the little things and we must repeat them day in and day out. As we choose the path of positive choices day after day, we build stronger decision making “muscles” in our brain. We become more and more at ease with making better decisions. We train ourselves which paths will lead in the right direction and which paths will lead the wrong way. As time goes on we understand how to choose paths that lead to our goals and dreams. We are no longer just wandering down a path and choosing which forks to go on based on a whim.
The path to a healthy body is well known. It’s been taken by thousands of people before us. One way to stay on the path to health is to follow someone who already knows the way. Another way is to join groups that have found the correct paths. No one is perfect and we don’t have to be. We’ll all take a short side path on our birthday or on a holiday. We don’t need to wander too far off the healthy path though and we easily find our way back the next day.
I like to think of my journeys in life using the path metaphor. The thinking of our life in terms of paths puts us in charge of our life. We all have a purpose for being on this earth. We just have to find our path. We can apply this to every aspect of our life. The path of our career, the path of our relationships, the path or our faith, and the path of our ongoing education in life.
If I have a piece of cheesecake tonight, I won’t gain weight and I won’t die from it. If I have a piece every night, over the next year and continue, I will definitely gain extra weight and probably shorten my life. If I walk 30 minutes on my treadmill today, I won’t lose weight and I won’t increase my lifespan or health. If I walk on my treadmill for 30 minutes every day for the next year and continue, I will dramatically change the direction of my health, fitness, and longevity.
Doing the little positive things day after day add up and move us far into the right side away from the positive / negative line. These habits can give us the ability to enjoy and be active in our life well into our 90’s and we might make 100. That may not be your goal, but visualize being 100 years old, living in your own home, watching your great grandkids playing sports, having a hobby, and looking forward to even a few more years of good life.
Along this same line, I was taught a visualization technique years ago that looked at Regret. Picture in your mind that you are 100 years old, sitting in a rocking chair on your front porch. It’s a beautiful day and you’re thinking back on your life. Knowing where you are today and what path you are on, let the 100 year old you decide if you will be fully content and happy with where are going and where you end up. Looking back, would you have made different choices? Would you have taken a different path? Would you have sought out more friendships and spent more time on family relationships? Would you have worked harder and reached for excellence in all that you did? Would you have taken more risks?
This mental exercise takes some reflection of your current life and some projection of the paths you are on, but can be a powerful motivator to make positive changes in our life. In doing this, you may find you are on the right path in many areas of your life. Good for you. You may also find that now is the time to make the needed changes and better choices that often circulate in our mind.
It’s all up to us. Will we become the person we were meant to be. Will we live a healthy life full of energy to do the things we intended. We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we respond to everything that happens to us. Decide today which path you will take. No matter what your age, we can always turn right, turn left, or even turn around and start over. The path to excellence is out there for each of us. We may not ever attain it, but we will become better for trying.
In our attempt to live an excellent life, we may shoot for the moon; but, even if we miss, we will still land among the stars.