How can planning help you manage your way to better health?

The second of the five plans that you need to better manage your time deals with your health. All of us want to be healthy. You have only to visit the health clubs the day after New Years to witness all of the people who have suddenly decided to that their goal for the New Year is to become healthy. However, it takes more than just desire to become healthy. You have to also have commitment, follow-through and a plan. Have you ever noticed that the more successful people are the more time they spend taking care of their health. All the money in the world will not do you any good if you don’t have your health. True, some health problems are not preventable by good diet and exercise. However, bad diet and no exercise will make any existing problems worse and perhaps create a multitude of life-style related illnesses and disease. The medical dictionary is full of disease and illnesses that are preventable or ameliorated by good diet and exercise.

I have been keeping to a diet and exercise program now for over 25 years. I chart my exercise and diet regularly. I keep food goals and exercise goals. I am not trying to be an Olympic athlete. I seldom run any marathons or races. However, I feel good, maintain a healthy weight and occasionally am able to compete in some short local events. I don’t make a habit of it because what is the point? At my age, I am not going to break any records or win any gold medals. My entire exercise and diet program is aimed at what a friend of mine called “maintenance.” I want to maintain an adequate level of heath and fitness to enjoy life daily. Do you have a health and exercise plan that you chart daily or weekly? Does your program work for you? If not, I am going to suggest the following ideas.

Your health plan should address both weight and exercise to start. List your goals in terms of weight and exercise. I use a wall calendar with large open squares to write in. I put my daily amount (length of time running or swimming or yoga or walking) in the appropriate daily square. My calendar is what enables me to track how often I exercise against my goals. For instance, my goals now are as follows: to run at least 16 times each month for an average of 30 minutes a run; To swim at least 8 times each month for an average of 30 minutes each swim, to do 40 pushups or ten pull-ups each day; to do yoga at least twice a week and to walk with my wife for 3 miles at least twice a week.

At the end of each month, I look at my calendar and count the number of times I did each exercise against my goals and I put it in a little notebook. I have been keeping this record for over 20 years now. Writing it down helps me to keep on track and to look back to see how I am doing each month for the current year. I also summarize my weight based on my daily weigh-ins on the bathroom scale and compute an average monthly weight which I list in my notebook. To do this, I simply get on a scale each morning and write my daily weight in a space on the calendar. Even if I miss dong this a few days, the average of 20-25 daily readings each month is much more accurate than taking a once a week or once a month reading. Taking a reading like this also prevents me from over or under reacting to daily weight shifts. For instance, some days I may be up two or three pounds over my target weight. However, the daily reading is not important. It is the monthly reading. By taking this monthly average, I can identify trends and see if my weight is going up or down. This allows me to adjust accordingly by noting those months and events that have an adverse impact on my weight or exercise.

By the way, this might seem like it takes a lot of time, but it takes me no more than five minutes a day to chart my exercise and my weight. I work out an average of about 45 minutes each day if you add up the walking, swimming, yoga and jogging each week. I believe that by staying healthy, you will add a great deal of time to your life. The payback for this time has been worth it for me. It will be worth it for you too. It is an investment in your health and your wealth. The longer you are healthy, the more you earn and are able to avoid forced medical expenses.

Well, are you ready to start your plan? Do you need more information? If so, simply type “exercise planning” in Google with the quotes and you will find a number of excellent worksheets and articles to help you get started. Another question is “Will you fall off the bandwagon?” Of course you will. I have fallen off some many times, I have lost count. The real question is “Will you get back on again?”

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