“It’s up to you, but…”

The first goal of these health and fitness columns is to inspire you to do something additional to improve. You may be doing plenty but I doubt it’s enough to have zero room to step it up. If nothing else, more consistency (unless you’re OCD) is always beneficial.

Some suggestions for consistency: Go to bed earlier. So you can get up earlier. So you can do something in the morning before your day and your life change your well-intentioned plans. Because your day/life will change your plans. This has a dual purpose of allowing you to have time to maybe start making a healthy shake in the morning and time to drink it as you go about your normal morning preparations. This also has the purpose of providing time to go for a brisk (it’s now autumn, folks; not Virginia’s humidity season) walk of 30 minutes or so. Or maybe a comfortable joint range of motion warm-up sequence to get everything moving.

For those of you who’re thinking, “I’m just not a morning person,” I’m not suggesting you become one, but I am suggesting you already do get up every morning, you do have responsibilities, you do have places to go and things to do. So whether or not you call yourself a “morning person,” you can gently add some version of what I’m saying. Or I guess if you choose, you can use that tired old excuse. Hey, it’s as good as any other one you may come up with. Beware of excuses, though: Those people who have good ones are those who’ve had the most practice using ’em.

Another suggestion for consistency is to establish a Routine. Incorporate what I just mentioned or something/anything you’ve been telling yourself you’d like to start by making it part of a new Routine. This has been proven to be an effective path for breaking out of your comfort zone and introducing improved patterns. Making changes part of a Routine reduces the amount of that unavoidable self-discipline. Please note I said reduces, not eliminates, but if you’re anything like me, you need all the help you can get. It goes like this: when it’s part of an order of activities that don’t require thought, that just have the same comfortable groove, we can proceed through them in sequence without weighing up whether or not to DO each step. Just follow along.

For about 30 days you may benefit from writing down your new scheduled order somewhere as a reminder. Then after a bit, you can start to follow by rote. For example: after walking my dog while my horse eats his breakfast, I come back home and make my morning protein shake. I look forward to it. That’s been my morning routine for a long time.

Recently I decided I wanted to add pushups and/or pullups before I make my shake so I put a note on my blender to change my Routine. More than once that note has reminded me that I’m making a change. Yes, I know that’s no big deal, but I’m just sharing simple ways to avoid having to think about all this while making changes you’ve decided are beneficial to you.

While we all motivate differently, I’m not trying to save the world here. If these suggestions help just one of you make positive changes, I’m a raging success as a column writer. Have a nice day and a nice fall season!

It’s November and that means Thanksgiving! A holiday that’s about family, friends and being thankful for all we still have. If you can’t think of what to be thankful for, try. If you go back just 100 years — a mere speck of time in the continuum — and look at the conditions our parents and grandparents lived in. That should give you plenty of ammunition to appreciate how easy we have had it.

In fact, if you’re reading this, you’ve lived your entire life in the easiest and most plentiful conditions ever known to the human species. Please Be Thankful!