Motivation is key when it comes time to make healthier life choices. My motivation is a 5-year-old pug-beagle cross named Puggles. If not for our walks around the neighborhood, my desire to get active would easily be trumped by homework or chores. When I look at those big brown eyes I am compelled to take him for his much loved walks. The benefits are equal for both me and Puggles – increased stamina, that happy feeling after exercise and a longer, healthier life. It’s funny how being responsible for someone else’s health (and yes I do consider my dog a person) can motivate you to consider your own. I am aware that my dog lacks the brain function to exercise himself when required and to make his own healthy choices. I, however, am fully capable of making healthy choices for the both of us. This sense of responsibility is a constant motivation to get active and make healthy choices. Your motivation may differ from my own, maybe instead of a dog you have children, siblings or a spouse who serve as your motivation. Motivation is important in living a healthy lifestyle and as stated in Northern Health’s Position Paper on Healthy Communities: When people make healthy choices, we know they will live longer, healthier lives.
Being realistic when setting your goals is important; you wouldn’t run a two-minute mile the first time you put on your runners. Instead, keep track of the progress you have made – finding out you beat your previous record can be exhilarating. Finding a healthy recipe that also looks and tastes great will impress your family and friends, not to mention improve your overall health. Puggles and I began with our 30 minutes walks around the neighborhood, always stopping at a nearby park to sniff around (him, not me). In recent weeks we have increased our walking time to 45 minutes and I have challenged myself to increase that time on a weekly basis. I can admit to missing the occasional day or two, but walking Puggles three times a week puts me pretty close to the World Health Organizations recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. Also, having support when engaging in a healthy lifestyle can make a lot of difference and will encourage you to stick with your choices. Support systems can be friends, pets or members of your community – like walking groups or farmers’ markets. No one wants to be the one who ditches friends for a weekly exercise class or tell their significant other to take a late night stroll solo. I know my dog may not live to be 90, but making healthier choices for us both will ensure we can make the most of our time together. And who knows, with the right healthy choices I may be blowing out the candles on my own 90th birthday!
[Editor's note: This is a great example of what the key message "when people make healthy choices we know they will live longer, healthier lives" means to Jasmine and Meghan. Tell us what it means to you! Visit our Picture YOU Healthy contest page for more details on your chance to win!]
Jasmine Ford is a fourth year nursing student currently doing a practicum with the men’s health program. Jasmine grew up on Vancouver Island and has been living in the north for five years while completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her passions include working in physical rehabilitation and long term care. Meghan McQuhae is a fourth year nursing student currently doing a practicum with the men’s health program. Meghan grew up in the Fraser Valley, and has been living in Prince George for five years while completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her passion is working in the acute care field of nursing.