We all want to be healthier, but why? What's our real purpose? Even the strongest resolve can collapse if you're trying to change for someone else—get thinner for a spouse, quit smoking for a nagging mother, exercise because you're supposed to. "To get motivated in a healthy way, start by asking yourself a series of questions," says Marianne Legato, MD, founder of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University, whose latest book is Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan.
These questions, compiled by Legato and her LLuminari colleagues, may seem difficult to answer at first, but the point is to get you digging down to a place where your intentions become clear. If a question seems particularly intimidating, think of it as a lake whose waters are deep and cold. Dip your toe in, letting your body adjust to the bracing temperature. Then dunk a foot, a leg, until you're all the way in. You may want to write down thoughts or just roll them over in your mind.
Part of this exercise is to remind yourself about what you—as opposed to everyone else around you—need in order to feel happy and fulfilled. If you don't make time for what matters to you, how can others value your importance?
If you don't have the energy to make changes now, ask yourself these questions again in a month or two. And consider that in order to part with what has become habit or routine, you may simply need to take a leap of faith. "So many of us are in jobs we hate or relationships that are stagnant, but we're too paralyzed to change," says surgeon Nancy Snyderman, MD, whose books include Dr. Nancy Snyderman's Guide to Good Health for Women over Forty. "As we age, we stop taking risks."
From the January 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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