“I’ll just start again on Monday” or “next year I’m finally going to get fit”, “I’ll lose weight ready for summer”

These are all phrases we’ve told ourselves at least once, and for many people – a thought process we confront on a weekly basis. Our Exercise Physiologists at Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleCastle Hill, KingsgroveRandwickPymble, Neutral Bay, Coburg – Melbourne, and Barrie, Ontario – Canada delve into why you should make health your number 1 priority.

Here we are again, in November, the end of the year approaching quickly – and how many of us are facing the reality that we haven’t actually changed much this year? New Year’s resolutions fade very quickly into an afterthought, and we start to accept that “this is it” for another year.

If this all sounds familiar… keep reading. I am writing this blog today to get you thinking about your health, priorities and why you need to make some serious changes.

I am an Exercise Physiologist, and my role is to help people make changes to their lifestyle that will ultimately improve their health. Every day I get to ask each of my clients whether they have stuck to their exercise strategy and eaten healthy this past week. I get great insight into their lifestyles and what they have done since I last saw them, but I also usually get 1-2 excuses as to why they didn’t stick to the plan. It almost always comes down to priorities.

For the majority, health is not a top priority.

Yes, a lot of us would put it on a hypothetical “priorities or values” list but when push really comes to shove, it’s the first thing we let go or put on pause. For example, we can all relate to staying back late at work and then being too tired to exercise or to prepare a healthy meal. If the kids are sick, family need help or a uni assignment is due we drop what we are doing and rally hard to get things done, but at the same time we also stop looking after ourselves.

We fall in the trap of eating junk food, being sedentary, poor sleep patterns and avoiding things that normally make us happy such as seeing friends. Some of us will even attempt to compensate for these behaviours by oversleeping, binge drinking, crash dieting etc. These clearly aren’t healthy either and can create a very negative health cycle.

These choices result in a lower mood, social isolation, low fitness and strength and often lead us down a path where we are at increased risk of weight gain and chronic disease (both physical and mental). These poor health choices and behaviours are also cumulative. A few months of being over tired, over stressed, eating poorly, drinking excessive alcohol, and avoiding exercise can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing.

So why do we need to take this more seriously? In Australia the biggest burdens of disease and leading causes of death are Cardiovascular Disease, Cancers, Mental Health – Suicide, Dementia and Diabetes. In the majority of cases, these conditions form over our lifespan and can be attributed to a range of preventable risk factors.

Deaths in Australia, Leading causes of death – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)

The modifiable risk factors for the above chronic diseases include:

  1. Improving Cardiorespiratory fitness through regular exercise
  2. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
  3. Quitting Smoking and Excessive Drinking
  4. Reducing weight
  5. Reducing Cholesterol
  6. Improving Blood sugar levels and insulin control

Therefore, by commencing exercise, improving your diet and making a few better lifestyle choices you can significantly lower your risk of disease and death. For those who are already fairly active and healthy its important to think about prevention and maintaining healthy habits.

A lot of us already know these facts and what we should be doing. So why is it that we will put everyone and everything ahead of ourselves? We will instantly book an appointment to take our pet to the vet and rearrange our day to fit in with our hairdresser. Many parents will ensure that their kids get an extremely healthy packed lunch and taken to swimming lessons, sport etc. but can’t find the time to cook for themselves or go for a walk. Once again it’s priorities.

Putting health first doesn’t just start over night. It’s a mindset and a way of life that should be intertwined in everything you do. It can depend on our readiness to change, are we just thinking about it or actually 100% committed to taking action? It can also depend on our motivation and drivers. The big influences, however, are usually external. Things we have already mentioned such as family, friends, financial, social and work pressures.

Therefore, we need to change our thinking. Yes, these things are extremely important, and from time-to-time things come up that are simply unavoidable and become priority 1. But I challenge you to start thinking this way – If I am my healthiest and happiest self will I be a better family member, a good friend, able to perform better at work and make better financial decisions? The answer is Yes!

So, can I afford the time, energy, and cost to make significant lifestyle changes? The question really becomes, can you afford not to?

If you are healthier, you will feel like you have more energy to do more and hence be more productive and effective in everything you do. You are also less likely to get sick and injured and hence encounter the financial pressures of medications, surgeries, and procedures.

So how should you start? The best thing you can do is a bit of self-reflection, identify what areas need work, and praise yourself for the stuff you are getting right. For example, you might eat really well, but work from home all day and don’t fit in any physical activity. Once you’ve identified some areas to improve – get the experts on your side! Speak to your GP, Dietitian, Psychologist, Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist and get help to make a plan to implement change.

From an exercise perspective, Exercise Physiologists are there to help people with individualised exercise prescription that considers their health history, aches and pains, new/old injuries, and your medications. We help set goals and show you how to fit exercise into your individual routine. Our job is to help you over come barriers such as time, confidence, access to equipment etc and ensure you are able to exercise regularly. We help you with making changes that over time become habits that feel sustainable.

The choices you make today are an investment in your next 10 years +. We all have goals, plans, dreams. For many they include travel and spending time with family and loved ones. Don’t you want to be your happiest and healthiest self so you can enjoy them? Don’t wait any longer, get started today!

Call 1300 964 002 to book with an Exercise Physiologist today!

Written By Ashleigh Mead