Improving Your Health Is Thorny At Times

I don’t know how many times in my life I had the best of intentions about improving my own health. I will work out earlier tomorrow. I will make sure I only eat healthier foods this week. I am not going to work 12 hours non-stop on a pot of coffee every day this week. The list goes on and on. Although people think of us in the preventive health profession as health nuts. We have the same ice cream cravings, would rather sit down with cold beer than do the extra mile run, or have one more assignment to complete at work to prove myself to my boss or show my employees I am more driven than them.

Yet, without the intention, you will never have the seed planted to even have the opportunity to make a healthy intention one of your most cherished behaviors. Let me share with you a story about my mother. For as long as I could remember, my mom was a smoker. She was the kind of smoker who enjoyed one right after a meal or when relaxing with friends. She knew it was very bad for her but could not seem to find a way to quit until she was 78 years old. Why you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you why. Like many people, smoking was my mom’s crutch when she got nervous. And my mom seemed to get nervous very easily! There was something about smoking that made her feel calm despite the fact nicotine is a strong stimulate to the nervous system. For me, it was impossible to understand why mom could not stop smoking because when I was sixteen years old I watched my mom be devastated over losing both her parents in less than a couple of months to lung cancer! Yet, she could not find anything that could help her kick the  smoking crutch out the way for good until she turned 78 years old.

What was that magic pill of motivation? My mom, despite always being a smoker, has the most beautiful white smile. Her teeth meant everything to her. At 78 my mom found out that one of her teeth needed to be completely replaced with an implant. She went to several dentists and they all said the same. Not a single one of the dentists would do the tooth implant surgery for my mom unless she quit smoking for at least 6 months after the tooth removal and implant surgery was completed. Even my best friend who is a dentist would not do it for her. And just like that, my mom quit smoking cold turkey to save her perfect smile. One of the most amazing aspects of this story is the fact that my mom just celebrated her 85th birthday and 7-year non-smoking anniversary. WOW!

Today, she cannot even imagine why she started smoking and why she found it so hard to quit. The moral of the story is a simple one. No matter how many TV shows, fitness gurus, or celebrity diet & exercise experts you listen to and try to follow their suggestions, you will never adopt a new health behavior until you realize deep down inside it is worth doing for you and you alone. The first step is putting the intention to do something healthy like quit smoking on your “bucket list”. And one day, like my mom, something will come up in your life that will motivate you to take action. It may be living long enough to see you child graduate college, not wanting to die young like your best friend’s husband or wife did, or you are simply tired of looking in the mirror at a person you no longer recognize or care to know that will motive you to take your healthy intention and make it a healthy behavior for the rest of your life! Today’s challenge, add 3-5 healthy intentions to you bucket list!