"Why don’t I just do it when I absolutely know I should?" This question is undoubtedly on the minds of every person who has ever joined a gym and not gone, bought an exercise machine and used it as a clothes hanger, and vowed to create a healthier lifestyle only to find themselves sitting in front of the TV eating chips.  I’m 100% convinced that physical activity is crucial to health and it is my business to be healthy to promote healthly lifestyles.  Yet, last week my exercise behavior faltered…badly.  I had been doing great, hiking up the mountain for an hour three days a week with my friend Lois, Pilates class, dance rehearsals, lifting weights and tracking my progress on the Iditawalk with friend Chris.  I was enjoying it all and felt great to have this exercise thing down pat.  Then Lois got busy with a move, I had deadlines looming at the computer and missed my class and lifting, dance rehearsal was canceled and suddenly I went from an average of 2 hours of activity a day to virtually nothing—NOTHING!!  How could that happen? 

It confirmed two things for me, the power of partners in wellness, and the importance of just accepting the glitch and jumping back in. To stay on, or get back on track enlist the help of a friend, and start, with the smallest thing if necessary, but just START. 

My scheduled phone call with Iditawalk buddy Chris last night literally forced me out the door in the cold and the wind as I had promised her I would walk. Five minutes into the walk I had to face the wind so turned back. However, my goal was 20 minutes so I proceeded to walk around the oval in our driveway, forward when my back was to the wind, backward when I faced the wind.  I’m sure it was oddly entertaining to anyone watching.  Still only 12 minutes of activity so I went inside but continued moving.  I marched in place, did knee lifts, small kicks, etc. while I was folding cloths and picking up the house, and thought, I could do this any time I did housework and rack up plenty of activity minutes.

The point is, don’t allow a setback to be your new set point.  You’ve heard it before, make activity a part of your lifestyle rather than something you add to your schedule when it’s convenient. Start again, and again, and again no matter how many times it takes.  Commit to 5 minutes of activity and then stretch it to 10.  Instead of making household chores as energy efficient as possible think of ways to burn more energy.  Call a friend and ask them to check back with you at the end of the day and before you know it you will be back on track.  For great suggestions for staying on the nutrition track visit  http://www.realage.com/srch/RASearch.aspx?Catno=3&query=healthy+diet

How do you visualize your life at 90?  Last week I watched an Oprah show about a DVD that is "sweeping" the nation.  It is called The Secret and in essense offers testimony from a number of high profile financial wizards and motivational speakers (like Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) about the secret of success.   I was fascinated to learn that the fundamental principle they all identified was the power of intention, or what they called the Law of Attraction.  In short, whatever you focus your attention and energy on attracts more of the same.  If you focus on what you lack, what you are angry about or sad or resentful about, that is the energy you draw to yourself and what your life becomes about.   They go on to say that to change your life for the better you need to first become truly grateful for what you already have in your life and then focus on what you want your life to be like.  Consciously visualizing your best life attracts positive energy your way and allows you to make the conscious and sub-conscious decisions to move you in that direction.

The whole show really reinforced my belief that you have to form positive beliefs and intentions for healthy aging. Focusing on loss or perceiving that losses are a normal/unavoidable consequence of aging can have a powerful negative effect.  Creating positive intentions and visualizing a healthy, vibrant process of aging helps create both the conscious and sub-conscious environment to support that process.

For more information and a number of free downloadable resources from this group go to www.thesecret.tv   I ordered the DVD and will look forward to sharing what I learned.

I have believed for a long time that expectations impact health choices and behaviors, and therefore outcomes.  Recent research by Catherine Sarkisian, M.D. documents the impact of attitudes and beliefs on aging well.  According to this 2005 study if you think the years ahead will be better than the years behind, they will be. But if you expect your health to decline with age, you may actually encourage that to happen. How? By taking a why-bother attitude, especially about staying fit.  No matter how old you are, 39, 59, or 99 — an age you should aim to reach—staying active and engaged in life provides you the best chance for health throughout the lifespan.  Social connections, meaning and purpose, and learning positive strategies for processing emotions all contribute to a positive quality of life.

The research article titled, The Relationship Between Expectations for Aging and Physical Activity Among Older Adults, by Catherine A Sarkisian, MD, MSPH,1, et. al., can be found in the J. Gen Intern Med. 2005 October; 20(10): 911*915.    Check out www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/ to find this article and others related to healthy aging.  The direct link to the full text of this article can be found at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1490218