Motivational Moment: Foundations for a Healthy Lifestyle

It is easy to be sedentary in today’s world.  There is a machine or service to do things physically and mentally for us and this is causing a large percentage of the population to skip healthy nutrition and to be inactive.  What’s worse is the population that thinks they are active and healthy but are not. 

There is hope however in that many people are discovering a need to change their lifestyle to improve their health and fitness. 

Here are some real life scenarios: 

Mary goes outside to teach her 6 year old daughter how to ride a bicycle.  This activity often involves running along side the bike to avoid the wipe-out and skinned knees.  After one or two short laps, she is winded and needs to sit down and rest.  That should have been easy and she decides that she needs to get in shape.

John’s 10 year old wants him to play catch with a football.  He goes outside remembering how he played quarterback in touch football with the neighborhood kids.  On the very first pass, he throws his shoulder out– a strained rotator cuff muscle.  Throwing a football in real life is much harder than pushing the key to throw the football on a video game.  He thinks to himself:  “I need to make some changes because he’s only 10. What if I want to go hiking with him as he grows up or do something else active?” 

Sharon just turned 40.  She’s put on a few pounds over the years.  When she was younger she ran marathons and now, just going for a short run is exhausting.   She gets invited to run by her friends but prefers a movie on the couch.  Sure, she talks about running a 5K and maybe even signed up for one with her friend, but just cannot stick to a training plan.  She really wants to make changes to be able to run the way she used to.  What’s she missing in her life to make it happen?

Jill is in her late 50’s and was active when she was young.  She has learning to ski on her “bucket list”.  She knows she has to be in shape to ski to prevent injury but has been inactive for so long, exercising is a challenge and she just cannot get motivated.  She listens to motivational speeches and thinks: “It’s not too late. How can I do this?”  

These scenarios are sometimes the pivotal moments that lead people in a direction to make lifestyle changes.  They improve their diet; they become more physically active; they pay attention to their stress levels and what’s going on around them.  But, oftentimes, the changes are short lived like a New Year Resolution, and the status quo behaviors creep back in–  the sedentary lifestyle, watching too much TV, playing computer games, surfing the Net, and eating a less than healthful diet.

The first hurdle to change is deciding to change in a way that fits YOU.  What changes YOU need to make to live the kind of life that YOU want.  If that change involves becoming more physically active, eating a healthier diet, and managing stress better, then you need to have a healthy foundation deep inside of you. You can learn this with some effort and small changes (see my blog post on Kaizen).

You might think, “Great, more things I need to learn to do to get healthy! It’s hard enough!”  Not necessarily because there are some basic foundations or core values that can be applied to us personally, professionally, in our families, as parents, and friends, as well as to our health and fitness lifestyles.

Perhaps, not by coincidence, several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet and hear, Mr. Gene Kranz, now retired NASA Flight Director and Manager.  If you are not into the history of NASA space flight exploration, Mr. Kranz was the Flight Director for the Apollo Moon missions, including Apollo 13, the one that did not land on the Moon due to vehicle malfunction.

The passion, dedication, and commitment that Mr. Kranz demonstrated during this talk at a conference that I attended, was inspiring to say the least. 

When thinking of basic foundations, let’s look to NASA and the Moon missions, for there are lessons to be learned from these missions.

For those of you who were not around when we visited the Moon, look up at the Moon and think about it.  NASA sent 6 successful missions, landing 12 men on the Moon,  and returning them safely to Earth.  The one mission that did not make it had a terrible malfunction, however, the 3 astronauts were brought back safely to Earth.  Not one man that was sent to the Moon was lost.

Once the mandate to travel to the Moon was established, the program raced on — maybe too fast.   A tragic fire during training for Apollo 1 cost the lives of three astronauts.  In response to this tragedy, Gene Kranz and his predecessor and boss, Chris Craft,  created the Foundations of Mission Control.  In its simplest description, the Foundation, is a set of core values and guiding principles that governs everything done in Mission Operations, whether it is operations in Mission Control, astronaut and flight controller training, or mission planning, design and analysis work.

These values are worth visiting and revisiting, not only to achieve professional success, but to improve our health and fitness. 

Read through these foundations as written for Mission Control.  You will notice that each of these foundations comes from within.  Successful change in whatever we do is ultimately in our control.  We can apply these foundations when striving for a healthier, more active lifestyle.  Think about YOUR life’s goals and desires as you read them.

Foundations of Mission Control

  • To instill within ourselves these qualities essential for professional excellence:
    • Discipline – Being able to follow as well as lead, knowing we must master ourselves before we can master our task.
    • Competence – There being no substitute for total preparation and complete dedication, for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.
    • Confidence – Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing we must master fear and hesitation before we can succeed.
    • Responsibility – Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do.
    • Toughness – Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again, even if it means following a more difficult path.
    • Teamwork – Respecting and utilizing the ability of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all. 
  • To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.
  • To recognize that the greatest error is not to have tried and failed, but that in trying, we did not give it our best effort.

Looking around us, it seems some have lost sight of these ideals.  If more people, and corporate organizations, had a set of sincere core values such as these, there might be more integrity and success. 

Use these words written for Mission Control–an organization that took pride in putting men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth –when considering changes in your health and fitness.   If we can put a man on the moon,  then we can make healthy lifestyle changes.

Strengthening these core values will start you on a path to a healthier, more active lifestyle.  It is a start — no — a foundation.  Build your foundation and shoot for the Moon!