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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Want Better Health? Be the Leading Lady/Man in Your Own Life

I enjoy movies as much as the next person, and yes, I've even daydreamed of living in a certain movie from time to time. But I propose that there are some beneficial health lessons to be drawn from the concept of a movie set.

Nothing makes or breaks a movie more memorably than its dialogue. What does that have to do with your personal health? Simply this -- we become what we tell ourselves. So what is your mental dialogue when you look in the mirror? Are you giving yourself leading-lady-worthy lines? Truly, we believe what we tell ourselves, so try telling yourself that you are beautiful, healthy and energetic. It is a great way to start yourself down that self-fulling-prophecy path.

When was the last time you thoughtfully chose the soundtrack to your life? Mine varies wildly. Sometimes the kitchen scenes of my life just call out for some reggae. Other times, the housecleaning scene calls out for some Thompson Twins and Erasure. Often, the exercise scenes of my life call for special soundtrack selections -- anything from an inspirational lecture to merengue -- depending on my mood. What does this have to do with health? We move more and with a wider variety of movements when we listen to music. From tapping your toe in a waiting room to dancing down the hallway, music moves us. So the next time you have a mundane or tedious task, crank up the tunes and burn some calories.

Remember Mister Rogers? He would always change his shoes when he got home. Don't underestimate the power of comfortable athletic shoes. Gym shoes don't need to be worn exclusively at the gym. Sometimes simply changing your footwear can change the way you run up the stairs or the speed at which you put those groceries away. This is coming from a dedicated slipper-wearer, so I understand the need to relax in furry slippers, but try swapping them out for nice, cushioned walking shoes and see how it changes the way you do the laundry. Plus, you can always dance along to that soundtrack better if you've got something a bit more supportive than flip-flops on.

Picture a film set. What do you picture off camera back behind the directors chairs and all the action? A nicely laid buffet table. The bad news is this: you are also the caterer. The good news is this: it doesn't take much time or effort. Take 10 minutes after you get home from grocery shopping to wash and cut up your produce, place in small snack-size bags or clear visible containers and put them front and center in the fridge. That is your buffet. It is surprising how much more likely we are to eat fruits and veggies if they are cleaned, cut, and waiting happily for us as we open the fridge. Not many people in midst of a snack attack will say to themselves, "Hmm, I'm a bit peckish. . . I think I'll wash, cut and slice this pineapple." Make the healthy stuff visible and convenient.

So be the leading lady or leading man in your own life and with a few tweaks to your dialogue, soundtrack, wardrobe and catering, you can ensure your life's movie is a health blockbuster, not a health-horror film.

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