Some years ago, my husband and I attended a small church and became good friends with our pastor and his family. They have since moved out of state, but our friendship continues, and much of our pastor’s wisdom has stuck with us as well. One of the words that we come back to frequently from him is the word “intentional”. The idea is, if you want something to happen, you must be intentional about it. It sounds very basic, but it seems so hard to do many times.
What are you intentional about in your life? If your answer is, “I don’t know,” then are you intentional about anything? If not, what are your priorities? Whether you realize it or not, there are things that are your priorities even if you would not label them as such. If you ask yourself, “How do you spend the bulk of my time, or how do I spend my free time?”, you will have your answer as to where you place your priorities.
Now, to bring it back to your health… Are you happy with where your health is at? Are you happy with your current eating habits, weight or state of physical fitness? If so, congratulations! Wonderful! You are among a very few folks. If the answer is “no, I am not happy with where my health is at, there are things I’d like to change,” why not apply the principle of being intentional? Intentional defined is: something done on purpose; deliberate. This simply means that you decide to drink water rather than soda or choose salad rather than french fries or begin to work out. The key is you must be intentional!
If even picking an area to work on sounds overwhelming to you, try following these simple steps:
- Pick one or two areas to work on at a time until they become a habit. I have noticed that when I attempt a major overhaul on an area in my life, I become very overwhelmed and once the momentum is gone, my good intentions slip away. I am much better off choosing one or two things to work on and to be very intentional about. Once they become habit, I can move on to something else. Some healthy ideas to get you started are: drink water rather than soda, do not snack after dinner, eat more organic produce, or find more ways to move your body. These are very basic, but they have great benefits and can help you get to the next level of eating for nutrition and working out to feel and look great.
- Do a time inventory. Where am I spending my time? Could I be using my time more wisely to benefit myself more? A personal example is, my husband and I have a hard time getting ourselves in bed at night when we should. We have the kids in bed, the cleaning up from dinner more or less done and the schoolwork graded, and then it is “me time” for us. The only problem is, our me time sometimes turns into too much time spent on the computer or reading in bed too late. That means we are not able to get up on time or that we are often way too tired in the morning. It affects our whole day when we are not intentional about our bed time, and suddenly our day becomes more frantic and we feel rushed. We are not able to get up in time to work out, which then becomes a much lower priority as the day moves along.
- Utilize the tools at your disposal. This could involve journaling what you eat or logging it on one of the many great apps or online programs. It could even involve taking the stairs rather than elevators. You get the idea. We have unlimited resources at our fingertips these days.
- Eliminate distractions. One bad habit related to health that I have had to fight is the propensity to snack before meals. Hunger would suddenly come upon me and I would grab a few nuts or pretzels or crackers on my way to making lunch – bad idea when it comes to eating healthy! The “quick grabs” are typically not the healthiest choices and they add unnecessary calories. Once I realized this pattern, with a little intentionality, I have been able to add in an apple and some cheese or some other healthy mid-morning snack, and intentionally wait, hungry or not, until I can make myself a healthy lunch.
- Don’t be intentional based on whether or not you feel like it. Let’s face it, doing things by whether we feel like it or not is not a very healthy way to live. Most of us carry some kind of emotional baggage. Living in the area of feelings can often times take a negative downturn. What you do or do not feel like doing is not necessarily the right thing to do. Being intentional means you do it whether you feel like or not. That too can become a habit. My current time to work out is in the afternoons after school is finished for the day. There are many times that lifting weights or getting on the treadmill at that time of the day do not seem appealing AT ALL. But, the truth is, I always feel great once I am done and I never regret taking that time to work out.
- Develop a plan. Many times there are different things that need to fall into place in order for us to be intentional. If you think beforehand of what you will need to adjust in terms of time or scheduling, it will be much easier to be intentional.
- Stop and think before you act. Think about whether what you are about to do or what you are about to put in your body helps you accomplish your goal. Intentionally, stop and think about the wisdom of what you are about to do.
Now, for those of you who have this intentional thing down, what are you intentional about doing in your life? For those who need some encouragement, please share with me what you are going to be intentional about? How are you going to do it? What is your plan? I would love to hear your comments and ideas.