Health, Time and Priorities

In our experience at the Lifestyle Works Clinic (LSW), the majority of people who come to learn about the Clinic and/or to participate in it have weight loss as top of mind. We describe weight-loss (body composition) in the following context: "body composition is a symptom of one's health, one's health is a result of their lifestyle". It is because of this relationship that those who embrace it succeed and those who do not embrace it struggle.
One of the most common themes that comes up in LSW is time. Everyone should have the opportunity for reflection of their day, their week, their life. So in that regard, a few thought provoking questions are listed to help with reflection and the issue of time:
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How important is your health?
What measures do you use to determine if your health is going in the right direction?
What do you want to be able to do when you are 50, 60, 70, 80 or even 90 years old?
What determines how your time is spent?
What are your priorities and goals and are they inline with what you value and how you want to live your life?
As an activity, one might reflect on their day or week and look to see how their investment of time supports their priorities and goals. Look for wasted time. Are some things using a disproportionate amount of time. Remember, whether time is wasted depends on if and to what degree it supports your priorities and goals. Whether something is receiving a disproportionate amount of time depends on if other things important to you are going unmet.

Sometimes the process of setting priorities or goals can result in some being over emphasized to the detriment of others. An example in business would be to "reduce product costs by 10%". That goal by itself could result in cheaper products that result in customer dissatisfaction. This is where in business, the use of a tool called the "balanced scorecard" came in to use. Its purpose is to keep all important aspects in view and not have one optimized to the detriment of another. This should not be thought of as "moderation" or "balanced" only. One could take a number of poor goals and balance them. Its meant to create goals that when in balance "achieve the vision".

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This same tool can be used in our personal lives, The Personal Balanced Scorecard: A Tool For Your Own End-Of-Year Review. The author provides an adaption of this model for personal use. 

 Personal Balance Scorecard

So when we think about not having time, it could be important to review how we are using our time and is it contributing to the key goals/dimensions that are important to achieve "our own personal life vision" and is it possible we are leaving out some other dimensions important to our vision or perhaps optimizing some to the detriment of others.

Centuries ago, we might have felt satisfied simply with our health, relationships, food and shelter. Then came marketing and commercialization. Now we need things we never before knew we needed, influencing our priorities and the balance of our personal scorecard.

The Mayonnaise Jar

Below is an excellent video. Lets call it "The Mayonnaise Jar". I hope you will watch it. But before you do - a little context.

While coaching people on nutrition and fitness for some time now, I have found some common things that people find as challenges.

It's not so much the food plan - some may not like spinach, some may not like bok-choy. If the solution was just what foods should I eat and what foods should I avoid, we could post those lists and America would become healthy.

If you ask people what is the most difficult aspect of making healthy food, its "time". Time to shop, time to cook, time to eat.....

This next point is not meant to be cruel, but meant to be to the point. If we say we don't have time, what we are really saying is "it is not a priority"

So that probably struck a cord with some, because we all have so much on our plates these days and so much we feel is important. Some days we feel like failures because we can't fit every thing in. "It's never possible to fit every thing in". It is only possible to fit our priorities in. Saying we don't have time sort of legitamizes not doing something - it puts the blame on the clock. The reality is "it is not a priority". There are other things we chose to do. One could say "but it is a priority, I just have so many priorities and can't fit them all in a day". Don't go there. You see, deciding which things will be done in that day is setting priorities. It is an entirely different feeling when one says, either to themselves or others, it's not a priority - it sticks in your throat. Why? Because by saying it that way we are taking ownership.

One of the best exercises a person can do when deciding on weight-loss (body re-composition), or any other change for that matter, is to realize it requires a change in lifestyle and a change in lifestyle will directly relate to a persons priorities. Ever try to push a string? That's what it is like when one tries for weight loss and finds it conflicts or is not sustainable with the rest of their life (lifestyle and priorities).

Try pulling the string. Think about what you want your life to be like; what you want - what you don't want. Set your priorities. Your lifestyle will have to accommodate these priorities. Now your daily activities will fall in line, like "pulling the string". Setting priorities is difficult, because most of us want more than we can have.

I hope you choose health and fitness as a priority. Try imagining your life with and without it. How will life be different in either case.

Please enjoy the video.....