Master the game to win.

The Navy Seals are masters of their trade. Is there any reason why we should not be masters of our trade of healthy living? There are many sayings and mottos of the Navy Seals. I have chosen ten that I believe represent our ability to master healthy living.

Why does anyone want to master healthy living? Two reasons pop out immediately. The lower the cost of corrective medical bills down the road is number one. Healthy living will add more dollars to your bottom line. And, number two is that we can do whatever we want to do in our 80s and 90s if we are healthy. You do not want someone changing your diaper for the last ten years of your life.

Number ONE. The only easy day was yesterday. You must always push yourself to be excellent. You don’t achieve it one day, and it stays with you for the rest of your life. Mastering diet, nutrition, exercise, etc. does not mean that what you know today becomes dogma for the rest of your life.
It is not easy to stay on the path that will lead you to excellent health when you pass your hundredth birthday. You must keep yourself motivated and focused. Don’t expect tomorrow to be more comfortable than today. That is a false assumption, especially if you become sick or end up in the hospital.

Number Two. Pain is weakness leaving the body. We live in our own comfort zones. It is rare when we push ourselves outside our comfort zones. It hurts when we exercise a muscle. However, the muscle becomes stronger. It is sometimes painful to eat certain foods, exercise at specific times, meditate, avoid toxins, etc.

Knowing something is good for you, and doing it is sometimes at cross purposes. It is difficult to break a habit or addiction. But, for success, it must be done. It is a pain to work into your daily schedule time for exercise. Likewise, eating balanced nutrition requires knowing what to buy, buying it, prepping it, cooking it, and eating it. It can be an enormous pain in your butt to make it happen every day.

Number Three. The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat. Navy SEALs train harder and longer than their enemies to survive. Most of us want a pleasant, healthy, and enjoyable retirement life. Yet, most of us are not enjoying lives when we reach retirement age. Why? Most of the time, it is poor planning and execution.

Like pain, the sweat of daily decisions and actions becomes tedious and not much fun. We don’t keep the end in mind. We focus on the here and now and not the future.

You would endure a lot of sweating if your goal were to run a marathon. You pour your heart and soul into the planning and running to achieve that goal. Why would retirement health be any different? Actions are the pain and sweating of doing things daily till we get it right.

Number Four. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Almost all of us avoid discomfort. For example, I don’t like the taste or smell of cabbage. Is it good for me? The sulfur molecules in cabbage are required for my body to repair itself. Other healthy choices don’t taste or smell like cabbage.

But what about exercise. Some of us don’t like to exercise. We must accept that some things in life are required, whether we like them or not. There are no substitutes. Uncomfortable eating and exercising are part of the overall health equation. The more you rebel, the more difficult it will be to succeed.

Number Five. No plan survives the first contact with the enemy. This is originally attributed to Helmuth von Moltke during WWI. Mike Tyson has a similar saying. Preparation and training must become part of our lives. You must know what you are going to do before you do it.

There are times that things don’t work according to plan. Then you must know what your options are and adapt accordingly. Be rigid when we must and flexible when forced. Traffic, family emergencies, vacations, and more interfere with our daily lives. Know what options you have when confronted with disruptions in your life.

Number Six. All in, all the time. Starting like a house on fire gets the endorphins moving, and you are making progress on your daily activities. Don’t focus on what needs to be done later today or tonight. That time will come, and you can devote the required energies at those times.

Focus on what is in front of you right this moment. You must pace yourself to make it to tomorrow. Do what is required to make it through each hour of the day. Getting up at the right time, preparing and eating breakfast, morning exercise, stress relief, shopping, reading labels to avoid toxins, planning for the rest of the day, prepping and eating your next meal, meditation, preparing for your evening rest and sleep, reviewing the plans for tomorrow are just a few of the things that must be done every single day. Make each one count. Give your all, your entire focus, to each job at the right time.

Step Seven. Don’t run to your death. Sometimes we get caught up in the activities around us. We must know when to keep going at full thrust or back off slightly at each hour of the day. Sometimes it is acceptable to use restraint, slow down, and be better prepared for the next task. It is challenging to be successful if we get too far ahead of ourselves.

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. Have a good plan for your day. Slow down when you need to. Speed up when you must. Never run out of energy trying to get too much done in too short a period of time. This is a problem at the beginning when we don’t know our strengths and weaknesses. We think we can do everything, and we should use better judgment.

Step Eight. Nothing Lasts Forever The good news is that nothing lasts forever. The bad news is nothing lasts forever. Good things will happen to us that were not in our control. Bad things will happen to us that were not in our control. Friends pass away; youth fades, our strength wanes, our memories diminish, and more will happen to the best of us. We must move on regardless.

Never fixate on the past. It weakens your ability to excel. It is fine to remember the ‘good times,’ but don’t let them take over your life. Nothing in life is absolute. Change is the only constant in our lives. We must be prepared as these changes enter our daily lives. It is usual for our minds to wander to both the negative and positive, even to the extremes. Take a deep breath, for these too will pass.

I advise my audiences to smile when stress comes suddenly and invades our brains with outrage and frenzy. A smile forces a positive thought into the brain to replace the negative one. You cannot have a positive and negative thought in your brain at the same time.

Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.” We mature as we age, at least we should. We can control our attitude better with more experiences. Live changes around us regardless of what we do. But we do control our thinking.

I remember a teacher in high school, commenting one day, “It’s always darkest before it gets totally black.” We laughed. I remembered that comment and have used it many times since then. Light is always at the end of the tunnel, and the morning sun will rise in the east. Nothing lasts forever. When challenged with staying healthy, take a deep breath and know that you can always start over, if necessary.

Step Nine. Anybody want to quit? Would you rather ring the bell or answer the bell? That was a question I heard several years ago. Without context, either answer sounds fine. Given some context, there is a difference. In Navy Seal parlance, ringing the bell means that you quit. You get up and announce to your class that you don’t have what it takes to be a Navy Seal. You quit by ringing a bell.

However, in boxing circles, answering the bell means you are ready for the next round. You have endured three minutes of unbelievable cruelty in the ring. A brief respite is given to you when the bell rings. You lasted long enough to take a deep breath and continue the next round.

It is always easy to quit. Our comfort zone is calling us. We have sweated enough and the pain is crossing our threshold. It is so easy to say, “No more!” If you want a healthy and vibrant retirement life, you must recognize that feelings of quitting will attack you several times a day.

These feelings allow you an easy way out. Your psyche tells you that it is not as important as you thought it was. If you quit running after two days of training for a marathon, you would never complete one. The only easy day was yesterday. We prosper once we absorb that into our brains.

Step Ten. Be someone special. If you make seventy years of age, statistically, you will make eighty years of age. Many of us do not make seventy. Those who do can look forward to the next ten to twenty years in various stages of health.

Your kids will determine which ‘old folks’ home’ you get to live in during your retirement if you don’t have the financial means to live where you want; and, you don’t have the capability of taking care of yourself. Someone else will control your life.

Take control of your life today. Don’t wait till tomorrow to think about it. Tomorrow never comes. It is part of your comfort zone. The control you exercise today leads you daily into the next day and then the next day. The extra forty or fifty pounds that your peers are carrying around their waist never came knocking on your waistline.

Be someone special today and every day. You are special. It is not rocket science to be healthy every day of your life. It is difficult and requires relentless pursuit. It is not outside of your capabilities. But, only you can make it happen.

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