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Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1:2, KJV)

You’re probably hearing a lot of people saying they want to get in shape for the summer. As a matter of fact, you may have said it your self. But just because you don’t have to wear a swimsuit in front of your friends, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to eat right or exercise daily. Healthy habits should not change with the seasons; they should be a consistent lifestyle.

Easier said than done, right? Let’s be realistic. Convincing yourself that you need to optimize your health just for the sake of living a longer and more comfortable life sounds like a monster task. It’s hard to pass a fast food restaurant when you are really hungry. It’s hard to stop eating when there’s plenty of food left over and you don’t have the feeling that you’re full. It’s hard to exercise every day, especially with all the work you have to do; believe me, I understand. But no one said it would be easy. I will guarantee, however, that it will be worth it. If you want to start a consistent healthy lifestyle, don’t wait another day. Here are eight steps to get you going.

1. Decide to care for your health. You must make a choice to live a healthy lifestyle. Until you make up in your mind to do so, you will continue to change with the seasons. It shouldn’t take someone you know and love to die from health complications for you to decide to be healthier. Neither should it take you to be diagnosed with a disorder to force you to change your habits. Choose health so you can breathe easily, think clearly, and just plain feel better.

2. Drink life. Your body needs water and fresh, unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices. How much you need depends on your age, current weight, activity level, metabolism, and even climate. The average is eight cups of water and two cups of fresh fruit and vegetable juices.

Why not just grab a half gallon of juice from the grocery store? Why do we need unpasteurized? Pasteurization is the process of heating liquids to destroy viruses, bacteria, and harmful organisms. What you get is juice that really isn’t as pure as it could be if it came straight from the fruit or vegetable, which means the vitamins and minerals are reduced.

3. Eat life. Eat raw, living fruits and vegetables every day. When foods are cooked, their natural enzymes are killed, and some of the fibers in the foods are broken down. Cooking (and especially overcooking) foods can reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals.

4. Eat fewer animal products. That’s right; meats and dairy products. They have no fiber, and they are the primary means that we ingest cholesterol.

5. Break addictions. Avoid smoking; reduce or eliminate caffeine, salt, and sugar. They all make your body systems work harder than they have to and cause strain on these systems.

6. Exercise. Do whatever you want to do that gets your heart rate up. Three times a week for twenty minutes per session will help. Check with your health care provider if there are physical challenges you have to work with.

7. Rest Trust God, don’t worry, get enough sleep, relax your mind, remove or minimize stress, and do something enjoyable. Resting doesn’t always mean logging more sleep hours. Take yourself away from your routines, even if it is for 15 minutes a day. Shut the phone, television, and radio off. Be still.

8. Cleanse your environment Treat yourself kindly by using natural products on your body and in your home. Man-made chemicals are all around us–in our foods, in the products we use, and even in the air we breathe. Be aware of them and try to avoid as many as you can.

Optimizing health can be done if you take small steps or huge leaps. Decisions have to be made because everything we eat, anything we spray, or even how long we sit will affect our health over time. Do research. Make sure there are different colors of food on your plate every day (if it’s all one color, you’re missing some nutrition). Be active. Use what God gave you, and don’t settle for what’s easy. You are worth the time and effort that it takes to be healthier.

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