At the end of the workday, are you going out for drinks or off to yoga? Will dinner be steak or salmon? Countless studies have demonstrated that the lifestyle choices we make have a significant influence on both the length and the quality of our lives. Everyone has heard the endless messages telling us to eat better, sleep better and get more exercise, yet statistics show that only a small percentage of us manage to follow most programs in the long term.
So why don’t we all do the right thing and take better care of ourselves? A recent article by Jane E. Brody, for the New York Times, Rethinking Exercise as a Source of Immediate Rewards, revisits some very interesting research on motivation by Dr. Michelle Segar who directs the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan. Dr. Segar has concluded that most people fail at programs that are built around long-term goals like weight loss. Surprisingly, people on these kinds of goal-focused programs actually spend less time exercising. The people who do exercise regularly are the people who find immediate rewards from exercise. Exercise is immediately relevant to them because they enjoy the activity or they enjoy the way the feel physically and/or psychologically when they make exercise a part of their day. Naturally, they achieve long-term benefits from the activity, but those are almost seen as a bonus or a byproduct of the activity that gives people pleasure, revitalization or perhaps even a sense of daily accomplishment.
I’ve seen the same results play out with people who have come to embrace Inclusive Health® as a gentle structure around which to shape a true wellness lifestyle. Each of the three facets of Inclusive Health, Looking Better, Living Better and Feeling Better, offers immediate rewards as well as long-term benefits. When we give our skin the daily attention it deserves, as our largest and most connected organ, we Look Better immediately. Fast results help reinforce our adherence to our skincare routine, and we receive “secondary” rewards in the form of better long-term skin health and better appearance, since skin looks younger longer. Living Better, by making good food choices and using dietary supplements, gives us immediate rewards as we discover the pleasure of eating well; short-term rewards as we start to sleep better and have better digestive health; and long-term rewards such as better management of weight, blood pressure, blood sugars and inflammation. Feeling Better, by valuing ourselves and finding ways to maximize our happiness, rewards us in the short term as we make time to do the things we love, and in the long term by helping us to resist and recover from the toll on the body and mind that the Cultural Stress® of a 24/7, plugged-in lifestyle can take.
If you focus on the daily return on your investment of time and energy, you’ll discover that following the guidance of Inclusive Health to find true wellness isn’t a duty that requires discipline—it’s a journey that yields endless rewards.
Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Click here to learn more about Dr. Murad.