There is much to celebrate on Independence Day next week. On a grander scale, we recognize our nation’s birthday and take a moment to appreciate our country and the opportunities we have. On a more personal level, we plan celebratory picnics and barbecues with family and friends, reveling in the day off from work. However, this Fourth of July, we’d like to take the celebration a step further and celebrate YOU and your independence. Not necessarily your status as an independent adult (you know, one that pays their own bills, works their own job, parents their own kids, and decides whether or not to eat a strawberry popsicle for dinner), but instead your healthy independence.
Healthy independence, while it may be a fitting title for your sister finally footing the bill for her own groceries, actually means that you are making decisions every day that take you toward living a healthy, happy lifestyle. It means that you don’t constantly give in to the unwholesome temptations around you. It might even mean that you’ve had to painstakingly overcome some unhealthy or dangerous habits from your past. The very fact that you choose to make exercise a priority when you meet with your trainer, and follow their advice on fitness and nutrition, means that you’re making huge gains in your own healthy independence. Considering how easy it would be to constantly give in to the temptation of the juicy burgers and crispy fried chicken you see advertised on TV, or the draw of couch-ridden Netflix binges instead of exercising, you’re doing a great job. And we’d like to encourage you to celebrate how far you’ve come.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have further to go, or that you don’t once in a while realize that you’ve eaten roughly 4 ½ servings of fudge brownie ice cream while watching a movie (hypothetically speaking, of course). If you find yourself still struggling with achieving healthy independence in a certain area, we’ve got a few tips to make that independence a little easier to achieve:
- Avoid the temptation in the first place. Don’t buy the chips! Or take a different route to work – one that doesn’t take you by the doughnut shop.
- Choose a substitute for your bad habit. We’re not talking celery sticks instead of a milkshake – it’s gotta be a fair fight. Find a replacement for your bad habit that you will actually look forward to.
- Reward yourself. Did you walk 10,000 steps for 7 days in a row? Those tired feet might need a pedicure.
- Redefine relationships built on your unhealthy habit. Maybe your smoking buddy or your “French Fry Friday” friend would enjoy a different kind of outing. Who knows? Maybe they’re ready to cut it out, too.
- Do your homework, and prepare yourself. Before going to a restaurant, check out the menu online and decide what you’re going to order. If you’re going to a party where there will be all kinds of tempting munchies, prepare yourself in advance to make smart decisions.
Congratulations on your healthy independence. You’ve shown yourself that you can break free from binding, damaging habits. Continuing to make decisions that support healthy habits will help your independence to grow even more. Celebrate well, and know that we’re rooting for you.