Best Practices for Health, 11-21

The last post had practices 1-10. Here are 11 more practical ideas for getting healthy.

11.  Nutrition and diet matters more than you think.
Here is a VERY true statement. Fitness happens in the gym. Weight loss happens in the kitchen.

Exercise will help you get fit but not automatically turn into weight loss. Too many people begin to exercise and then they EAT MORE.  Resist that.

If you actually look at the number of calories burned during exercise, you'll be surprised and disappointed. You burn up some more calories, but not that many more. And all those calories burned during exercise are cancelled out when you have one FRUIT SMOOTHY.

That Panera Bread Strawberry Banana Smoothie is delicious and it has 250 calories. If you weigh 180 pounds and you walk for 1 hour on a flat surface you burn up--you guessed it--245 calories.

You can find calorie counter websites and easily discover how many calories are in your favorite foods. There are apps for both Google and Apple.

Be smart about food intake as you increase your exercise. You will improve your cardiovascular capacity and your strength, but if you are not careful with food, you won't lose weight.

12.  Cut back on calories and REALLY cut back on bad calories.
It is just a fact--Americans eat much too much. And we love to eat stuff that is not good for us.

I will borrow the Apostle Paul's words and say, on this one, I am the CHIEF of SINNERS.

Snack food, junk food, sweets, crunchy munchies--I like it all.

Carbs in excess, and especially processed foods, weigh us down, clog our arteries, and depress us.

Oh yes, and the calories in the stuff we drink!

Find out what is best for you. Try cold turkey elimination of things that are bad for you or try a reduction program where you gradually cut back. Allow yourself some cheat days if necessary, but if we don't get serious about getting rid of bad food from our diet, we won't get healthy.

I need to hire someone to walk around with me and knock out of my hands all the unhealthy food I am about to eat.       - The Do It Program

13.  Jot down a plan.
Most of us will do better if we have a plan in front of us. A plan gives us focus and also accountability. The plan can be as minimal or as extensive as it meets your PARTICULAR needs.

Example One: Simple
  • Walk 5,000 steps a day in January (4-5 days a week).
  • Walk 7,500 steps a day in February (5-6 days a week).
  • Walk 10,00 steps a day in March (5-6 days a week).
To do this in bad weather, join a gym and walk on a treadmill. In good weather, walk outdoors.
Good weather, get up early and walk outside.
Bad weather, go to the gym after work.
Okay, just an example, but make a plan or you will find excuses not to get your steps in.

Example Two: Simple
  • Drink an 8-oz glass of water before eating every meal.
  • Drink an 8-oz glass of water during meals.
  • Never have a second helping.
  • Have 3-4 servings of vegetables every day.
  • No desserts after meals except on Saturdays (treat day).
  • No food after 7:00 p.m.
Again, just an example of a basic plan, to which you can add many more ideas.

14.   Do a Google search for the help you need.
You can find anything on the Internet these days. If you want to get suggestions for dieting, just type in dieting.

Do you want to start an exercise program for 40 year olds? Google search it.

Do you want suggestions on how to sleep better? How to work up to doing 50 push-ups a day? How to run 3 miles? How to... how to... how to... You can find good advice on EVERY QUESTION you have.

You can also find apps for your phone, although in most cases you will have small fees to unlock most of what an app can do for you.

If you want a personal trainer, there are apps for that.

Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay as you are.

15.  Don't be discouraged about setbacks or failures.
They happen. There will be times when you revert to old habits. Have you heard it takes 30 days to make a new habit? That is simply NOT TRUE. Habits take much longer to form. A simple habit that is in the form of adding something can "maybe" be established in 30 days. Maybe!

But if you are breaking bad habits and starting new ones, 60-90 days is much more realistic.

Remember the LONG HAUL mindset.

And be realistic. You are human. You will fall short. You'll eat a bag of Doritos (a big bag, not one of the little ones). By the way, a small bag of Doritos has about 500 calories in it. You can you tell this one is personal for me.

You will have a rough day or even two.


It happens. See it as a blip, an interruption, and get right back on your program. You have been doing good. A day does not erase the progress you made. Even several days won't do that.

You hit a bump, not a dead end.

Also, don't be discouraged if on some weeks you don't make your goals even as you are working diligently to get healthy. Progress is not always even. You hit plateaus.

Remember the LONG HAUL.

Once more--this is really important--if you get discouraged you will tend toward more regression. Face it. Admit it. Laugh about it. And get back to your Health Plan.

16.  Think of being FIT and not being ATHLETIC.
Have realistic standards for your health. You can be very fit and not be an athlete. Athletes are those who have higher levels of fitness. Athletes give a lot of time to physical training. Your goal is not to be an athlete, but rather to be fit.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be athletic. I want to be athletic, so I tend to work harder on physical fitness. My preferred exercise is bicycling and I ride a lot of hours.

That is my PARTICULAR personality at work. I tend to throw myself into what I like. And I get competitive with myself.  So right now, after a 4-month lay-off due to injury and then illness, I am back on a training program that is not designed just to be fit, but to be a pseudo-athlete. After all, I do want to act my age within a decade or so.

Yes, it is possible. No, it is not easy. It if were easy, you would already be there. If it was impossible, you wouldn't be making progress. 

17.  Add in some elements of FUN.
Yes, it is hard work, but if you can make some things fun, that helps. Especially on the exercise side of things.

And plan on REWARD days that you look forward to. If you set some goals and then achieve some milestones, celebrate.

18.  Look at EVERY SINGLE DAY as a new day and a fresh start.
Yesterday mattered and I hope yesterday was a really good day for your health program. But that was yesterday. And if it was mediocre, that's okay. Today is a new day.

One day at a time.
One day after the next.

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. And every day you walk some more steps on the journey of health.

Every Day.
It is just a good mindset--refreshing and freeing.

19.  Healthy is an acquired taste.
Whether it is exercising or eating better, it is an acquired taste. It is not automatic. If you are lazy for too long, lazy becomes your preferred mode and default pattern. You have acquired a "taste for lazy."

There are bad things I love to eat because I have an acquired taste for them. There are good things I do NOT want to eat because I have no taste for them.

Have you ever had the experience of doing something that is at first distasteful for you, but eventually becomes enjoyable?

After being off from biking for 4 months, the first few times back on the bike were distasteful. I actually didn't like it. My body was not use to it.

The good news is that our tastes can change and they will change.

That is a truth about most things, including moral and spiritual things. It is certainly true for good health and exercise.

The longer you walk the road to health, the more you acquire a taste for it and you find previous unhealthy habits to be unpleasant.

20.  REPEAT, Repeat, Repeat.
Everything that is good and useful, everything that makes a difference, everything that is working for you on your road to health, REPEAT and keep repeating.

21.  And most important __________________ .
What are the best ideas and practices you discover on the road?  Jot them down. Pay attention to them. What you discover for you is going to be the best PARTICULAR practices that will help you.
I spent several days talking about best practices for Practice 1:  Get Healthy. I hope you have some motivation and direction for 2023.

There are six more practices to cover, and in the weeks ahead, I'll give you some best ideas on each one.

Stay tuned...

Pastor Brian Rice
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