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Frightened Into Fitness

We can't prevent aging, all diseases and all health issues, but we can improve our overall quality of life, general state of happiness and pride in how we operate as people if we just take a relatively small amount of time and effort to drink water, make good eating choices, exercise and stretch a little on a daily basis.
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In today's world, I think a lot of people know the basics of how to get fit, how to eat right, how to make good choices and how to stay (somewhat) balanced, right? And if you don't know the basics, then the resources around you are endless: the Internet, grocery stores full of magazines, TV shows, advertising, people you know, and strangers on the street are constantly telling you how they do it (keep healthy), how great it is and how happy it makes anyone who does it right?

Being healthy is even woven into our pop culture. The Biggest Loser has had 13 successful seasons of Americans watching other Americans suffer to take off hundreds of pounds in a short time with all of the contestants declaring that they are afraid of what will happen to them if they stay at their current, obese weight. Movies like Super Size Me and shows like Extreme Makeover: Weight-loss Edition are based on how an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise will poorly impact your life, how miserable it is to be unhealthy but how it's never too late to turn it around. These entities are widely viewed by the general population, meaning millions of people watch firsthand what having a good diet and consistent exercise can mean for your health and happiness.

So why do most people need a frightening health scare (and sometimes a large cash prize) to push them from knowing how to be healthy into doing it?

My thoughts:

• We (modern humans) are sedentary unless highly motivated to be otherwise.
• We perceive being fit and healthy as a chore and a lot of work.
• We don't have enough faith to "just do it."

And maybe the truth is that we do need to be frightened into taking better care of ourselves. Therefore, my goal today is to frighten you down the path to better health and fitness BEFORE a real health scare gets you there first.

Let's start with this question: How fit, happy, healthy and mobile are you right now in general and compared to you peers?

Think about your answer and then add 10 years to your life. Now add another 10 years. Based on your current, personal, daily choices, how independent, happy, fit and mobile do you think you will be 10-20 years from now?

Next question: How many years of your life do you want to live in pain or suffering, and potentially with the loss of your independence? Not many if you can help it, I'm sure.

Here is the scary truth: The choices we make and the habits that we put in place now significantly affect how our bodies will function on the inside and the outside in our 5-20 year future. Believe me, preventable pain and suffering will turn into torturous regret the moment you start hurting and realize that you should have, could have, would have, etc.

Here is some good news: You don't have to rearrange your life or go to miserable extremes to achieve better health. You simply need to make 3 or 4 of the following things a priority every day:

Water: Have it handy. Know your style. Do you like refill bottles vs. plastic vs. glasses of water? Take that information and always have your favorite way to drink water available. Schedule a midday check-in with yourself: "How much water have I had today?" You will notice an increase in your energy level and ability to concentrate on days that you are hydrated from the day before.

Good Eating: You don't have to go on a "diet" or highly restrict yourself or calculate each and every morsel of food. Have a loose plan for the day, stay conscious, and make good choices along the way. That's how I do it -- it's not intimidating and it seems to work.

Some Exercise: (20-60 min) This one you are going to have to plan and commit to. It's one of the harder habits to implement if it's not already part of your day. Believe me when I tell you that you do have the time, you just have to make it. Start with 20 minutes three times a week and work up. If you feel overwhelmed, whiny, or hopeless about getting into an exercise habit, my best advice on this one is suck it up and figure it out. Find a friend, commit to a class, or a certain workout routine. Keep trying all kinds of things. You are a grown-up person who needs to take care of yourself.

Some Stretching: (5-20min) For some reason stretching is the one thing that people always forget until they are in pain. Pick a time of day like morning or night and write yourself a note to do it. Stretching can be as simple as sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you and trying to touch your toes for a minute. Even that one time a day will make a dramatic difference in your life.

I bet you are probably already working on at least one of these right now. Pick three and make a plan for tomorrow and do your best. Write it down, schedule it in, find a friend, make sticky notes and do whatever it takes.

Most importantly, don't give up on trying to get yourself into the habit of these four parts of your day. Life is a process. The more you try with these aspects of better health the sooner they will stick, and trust me, eventually they will! Once you get on a roll with better health, it feels so good that is it no longer a lot of effort to keep yourself going at it. I promise.

We can't prevent aging, all diseases and all health issues, but we can improve our overall quality of life, general state of happiness and pride in how we operate as people if we just take a relatively small amount of time and effort to drink water, make good eating choices, exercise and stretch a little on a daily basis. You can do it. You do have the time and you owe it to yourself and the people that depend on you. Don't be that person that waits for a health catastrophe or needs a $250,000 cash prize to finally care enough to make some changes for the better.

For 10 min-and-under exercise videos and meal suggestions visit me at or

If you need help, follow me on Facebook or Twitter and you will find that I am constantly asking you during a day how much water you've had and where you are at with your eating and exercise that day.

Good luck! I am always here if you need me!

For more by Kristin Anderson, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.