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The Importance of Your Routine

overhead shot of breakfast table with coffee, magazine and oatmealVibrant good health is not a matter of luck or a gift, but grows out of your daily rituals. Over time, your habits -- how you think, what you do and don’t do, and what you eat and drink -- are what you will become. Your life follows a trajectory and it’s possible to see where you are headed decades before you arrive at your fate by examining your current habits and issues. Truly, the path that your health and well-being follow is determined more by your routines than your genes. In fact, your daily rituals will largely determine how healthy and happy you will be, how quickly you will age, what diseases you will or won’t get, and how long you will live.
Up to 80 percent of what we do on a day-to-day basis is done as a matter of habit. So if you get into the right health habits you will be on a path towards a long and healthy life. But habits, good or bad, take about 4 to 6 weeks of daily repetition to develop; and, while you are in this difficult mode of trading bad habits for good ones, many people find themselves relying on willpower. But be warned: from a scientific standpoint, the problem with willpower is that its half-life is only two weeks, and it is soluble in alcohol; meaning that it is easy to lose your motivation and alcohol weakens your resolve.
Habits often start innocently, almost imperceptibly. Bumming a cigarette from a friend at a party, drinking a Pepsi on a hot day at the ballpark, skipping breakfast and then wolfing down a doughnut during a mid-morning break, or overeating at dinner and then spending the evening on the couch watching TV – this is how destructive habits begin. When we experience a pattern that feels pleasant and effortless, we want to repeat it. Before long this becomes the path of least effort—a groove in our daily ritual whereby an action stops being a choice and instead becomes an unconscious practice. What may have started as innocent impulse can harden into habits so strong that they become like chains that you cannot break, sometimes even if your life depends upon it.
Health and vitality are the by-products of small endeavors, repeated consistently day in and day out. Expecting results without hard work is like trying to harvest where you have not planted. Life rewards actions and ignores excuses. The results you get will be proportional to the time and effort you invest in your nutrition and lifestyle. And, unfair as it may seem, with each passing birthday you will have to work a little harder to stay vigorous and youthful.
In Good Health,
James O'Keefe, MD
Picture Credit: Pixabay