09/29/2011 08:56 am ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

The Essential Ingredients for Healthy Living

Most of us are always looking for new recipes. Well here's one you can't afford to miss. It might take longer to bake, but it's worth every minute. Try it right at home:

The recipe for a healthy life

  • 2 cups of self-confidence
  • 1 cup determination
  • ½ cup healthier choices
  • ¾ cups of increasing activity

Mix until smooth and bake at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and sprinkle with expectations. Serve while still hot and enjoy!

This is a recipe for healthy living. You may vary quantities of the various ingredients, but you need all of them to complete the recipe. I know that many readers will propose even more ingredients to this recipe; but ultimately, if you have the key ingredients above, it will work.

The problem arises because most of the time we lack one or more of the ingredients, and we try to achieve the same results without them. The fact is, every one of these qualities is essential to a healthy lifestyle. You can't have one without the other.

So let's go through this list of ingredients individually. I think that of all the qualities that I mentioned above, self-confidence is the most elusive. Most people do not carry an innate overabundance of self-confidence. This is an "acquired taste." This ingredient depends so much on past experiences -- both successes and failures.

How we were shaped as children plays heavily into our self-confidence. If we are encouraged and celebrated for making our best efforts early on, then we will carry this enthusiasm forward as adults. However, building up your self-confidence as an adult is much more difficult if you were constantly put down as a child. If you tell me that this is all "hogwash," then you probably haven't experienced this kind of upbringing yourself.

Essentially, self-confidence and parenting style are linked hand in hand. As a parent you will help to shape your child for the future, whether you like it or not. The child may spend most of his or her time in school or daycare, but you are still their hero, mentor and best example. Throughout life they will emulate you!

Self-confidence is almost never acquired all at once. Increasing your self-confidence is the key ingredient in successful and sustained weight loss; to keep the weight off for good, you need to feel good about yourself. This is a trait that builds up over time. You will achieve long-term success in weight loss only after you realize that you are "worth the effort." This feeling has to come from deep within you, but if your feelings of self worth were repressed early on in life, then you will struggle with this ingredient.

The good news is that you can win back your self-confidence by helping others achieve theirs. Strange as this may seem, I have found that if you use your talents to help others succeed, you will gain that self-respect and self-confidence for yourself as well. It will take time, but it will happen. Do it and you'll see the results. Success builds upon success!

How about determination? It's true that you can have an innate desire to succeed, improve and triumph at all cost. But even with this determination, it can become a life long struggle to achieve if you lack the other basic ingredients. Self doubt and fear of failure will permeate your efforts. Yes, you can overcome these, but it will take that much more "sweat equity" to do so.

Having that burning desire inside to succeed is crucial. Work on it, and let it flourish. This is the engine that is driving your ship. Don't allow anyone to extinguish it!

Don't expect to succeed every time. Some of the most successful people in the world failed multiple times, but they had determination. They continued to try, and learned from their mistakes. Not achieving your goals when you try is not failure. Failure is not doing something about it. Expect failure ... achieve success!

Now you need to make healthier choices. Don't be extreme and try to quit smoking, lose weight and start training for your triathlon all at the same time. If you try to do it all at once, you are more likely to fail. Take small steps, and always inch forward. Start with something as simple as not finishing your spouses or children's plate. Drink one or two glasses of water more a day. Or how about limiting your soda intake to lunchtime only? These small steps add up to big changes over time.

Do you think that you're not making progress if you start only with small steps? Think again. You will see improvement in your weight and your attitude very quickly. This improvement will allow you to build up your self-confidence, which in turn, will allow your determination to flourish. Notice how all the ingredients are starting to come together?

Next, increase your activity. I don't mean exercise; I mean activity. Whether it is gardening, washing the car by hand every Saturday ("wax on, wax off") or playing with your kid outside, increasing activity is easy and can be your first step to wellness. Make it a habit of increasing activity in everything that you do ... be creative. Remember, we want small steps that count.

Now our recipe is almost complete. Don't forget to sprinkle with expectations. How we perceive our future and ourselves is extremely important to our well-being. We have to feel that we are worth the effort. These key ingredients will enhance our lives and open us up to new horizons that we previously thought to be unattainable. Don't be afraid to follow a new recipe and enjoy the outcome.