Health is a cycle. It’s a continuous feedback-loop that can move in a positive direction, a negative direction, or be stagnant.
The positive feedback cycle is fueled by actions such as eating a wholesome diet, exercising, sleeping, managing stress, and maintaining a supportive inner-dialogue. These positive actions build on each other, resulting in improved health, greater vitality, and feeling better than you did previously. Feeling better is the ultimate carrot — it is the beautiful reward of healthy actions. Each action amplifies and strengthens the current and momentum of the cycle.
The stronger the momentum of the cycle, the less impact each individual action has. In fact, some less-healthy actions are perfectly normal and manageable in the positive cycle. Think about a friend who you feel is the embodiment of health, do they always make the healthiest choices? Probably not. For these people, part of optimal health is having the flexibility and confidence to make less healthy choices without letting it derail their overall positive direction — they order french-fries, “skip” workouts, enjoy a celebratory weekend getaway, or a get consumed by a particularly intense week (or month, or year) with work (or life). They have times when they put some optimal things on the back-burner. The key is, they usually maintain certain key health-sustaining actions and thus, their positive cycle continues, if at a slowed pace. This enables easier resumption of a healthier lifestyle whenever they chose.
When we ignore or don’t prioritize the different aspects of health for long enough, the positive-feedback loop starts to stagnate. If we make enough detrimental actions, our health cycle can begin moving in the negative direction. Of course, the triggers for a negative cycle are different for everyone, but I assure you, everyone has been in one before. Negative states shift our thoughts and feelings, making positive actions more difficult. Feelings of worthlessness, despair, and apathy can occasionally cloud even the sunniest disposition. Although reversing the momentum of a negative feedback cycle is challenging, it is possible, and it starts with one action. Once we make one intentionally positive action, acknowledge it and commit to another, and another, and another. Slowly, surely, with committed deliberate actions, we stop the negative direction and turn it positive.
Health is a cycle — we get to determine its direction.