Whether I’m speaking to groups or individuals at Canyon Ranch, invariably the subject of commitment comes up. Though almost everyone says they are committed to adopting healthier habits, what I often hear are the undertones of defeat and self-recrimination.
I try to remind people to cut themselves a little slack and face reality: The world out there is vastly different from Canyon Ranch. Here, you are in the perfect “ecosystem” to live healthy. Sort of figures, as that’s the reason Enid and I built Canyon Ranch almost 35 years ago.
Reality is that back in the “real world,” maintaining healthy habits can be extremely difficult. You are constantly tempted to make unhealthy food choices. The junk food and processed food industries flood the marketplace, purchasing the most shelf space and best placements with their billions of dollars. Walk through any food market or drugstore. Walk through an airport or go to the movies. Temptations, temptations, temptations. So, how do you create a new reality for yourself that puts you in a viable “ecosystem” for maintaining the life you profess to want?
As I tell our guests, that new reality comes from having an honest, introspective conversation with yourself. Find a nice, meditative setting and go deep with the questions. What would you like your life to be like 10, 20 or 40 years from now? As we all have experienced, time goes by in a blink and with modern medical science and technology, the stage of life after 65 is likely to be the longest of your life.
An article about longevity said recently, “Though we may be saved from early death by modern medicine, for too many of us, it just prolongs our years of decrepitude.” If that doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, think more about what that means: years of tiredness and lack of vitality, suffering from a litany of chronic diseases associated with aging, and the potential loss of independence.
So during that introspective conversation with yourself, address the value of a quarter-century of vitality and full physical and cognitive functionality. Ask yourself how you’d like to interact with the younger generations – with your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As George Burns was known to say, “You can’t keep from getting older, but you don’t have to be old.”
Life may be a downhill journey after 40 as far as physical functionality goes – with cognitive functionality picking up a downhill thrust not much later – but we are empowered to dramatically slow those declines and even reverse them.
The answer resides in healthy habits. For the last 35 years, exercise has been at the top of my list to keep me at levels of physical and cognitive functionality that defy the concept of decrepitude. And trust me, it’s not just me: The science is very powerful when it comes to the positive effects of regular exercise on your health and functional likelihood.
You change habits and build your private “ecosystem” when you decide what is really important to you. If all these things are important enough, you’ll establish new habits. Every day you maintain them increases the likelihood they will stick.
You’ll begin to feel the difference, regardless of your present age. You’ll like the feeling, and after a few weeks, voilà! Commitment is embedded and the habits are formed. After that, you won’t think about exercising four or five days a week and eating healthy food any more than you think about brushing your teeth in the morning.
I highly recommend that you watch a video called 23½ Hours by Mike Evans, M.D. It’s only eight minutes long, and it’s amazing. (Go to YouTube.com and enter 23½ Hours into the search field.) It gives you the formula for what I call “living younger longer.” Watch this video, and read pages 1-13 and 109-110 of my book, Mel’s Tips for Healthy Living, which will take you 15 minutes – this will add up to the most important 23 minutes of your life. With these two things you’ll have everything you need to stay on track to maintain optimal health.
Science has shown us that it’s easier to preserve health than to repair it. It’s up to you to make the commitment. Plan for the future you want to have.
We can light the path for you – you still have to