It’s so easy to take our health for granted. We don’t always notice when we’ve let the exercise slip or got into unhealthy habits until we get a wake up call. This could be in the form of struggling to get our jeans on or could come in the form of a serious health scare. It’s when our health is in jeopardy that we stop taking it for granted. To live our best lives we have to put health first.

In almost every personal development book I’ve read, the message is consistent. To live our best lives, we have to be at our physical peak and that means being in great health: eating well, sleeping well and exercising.

Speaking to a friend who is an NHS consultant, the first focus of her leadership development is physical fitness. Why? Because when she’s fit and well she is able to lead well. Similarly the conference I attended last week for entrepreneurs dedicated the entire afternoon session to exercise and nutrition. Shaa Wasmund, the conference leader and business guru urged the audience to treat themselves as racehorses as we need to be in our best physical health if we wish our businesses to flourish.

I spoke to the officer responsible for well being at Herts Police last week and she said for her the foundation for good mental health is exercise and I couldn’t agree more. Exercise benefits our physical health, making us stronger and less prone to illness and injury. It gives us more energy and releases endorphins which have a positive impact on our mindset.

It can also improve confidence and resilience. Training for my first triathlon got me out on my bike, swimming in freezing cold water and pushed me out of my comfort zone in a way which nothing else could.

Eating the right foods also has a huge impact on our well being. Planning meals in advance and removing temptation from the house are two tricks that keep me on track. Willpower alone is not enough.

Please don’t assume this healthy stuff comes easy to me. It doesn’t. I was a very timid child. I had asthma and allergies. I was afraid of jumping off the beam in the gym. I have clear memories of my mum stating in no uncertain terms: “We are not a sporty family”. But somewhere after having my first baby I started setting out with the pram for a daily walk because I knew it made me feel better. After my second child the weight was harder to shift and I realised action was required so I started using the NHS Couch to 5K podcasts and yes, miraculously, this did what it said on the tin. Some time later I ran my first 10K which seemed impossible at the time and last week I took part in Cancer Research’s Winter Run and achieved a personal best of 53 minutes- not bad for a non sporty non runner. Taking up triathlon and running two half marathons last year saw me stretching myself further and I was delighted in September when I outran my fitness guru Davina by a very narrow margin!

So change is possible and the benefits are worthwhile. We’d like to be doing more so what stops us? Everything else gets in the way.

So how can we make it work?
1 Start early. Setting the alarm for 5:30 or 6 and just do it. Then nothing else can get in the way.
2 Have your equipment ready to go- exercise kit by the side of your bed, trainers by the front door.
3 Keep it simple- running is free; you tube has a wealth of resources. My favourites are Yoga with Adrienne, Fitness Blender and The Body Coach. Not to mention my old time favouries- Davina and Jillian Michaels.

Don’t make excuses. As the Nike slogan goes: JUST DO IT