Prevention is the best medicine – I’m sure you heard this before. An overwhelming number of studies have shown that our lifestyle choices are responsible for causing or preventing many chronic diseases. So why is it so hard to improve our lifestyle choices? Maybe it is because we don’t feel immediately threatened by any health issues. At least not right now. However, as we get older chances are that our body won’t be able to deal with all the abuses we do when we are younger.

As the years go by, it is more common than not to put on some weight. Then, we blame our metabolism; we convince ourselves that it is slowing down as part of the aging process and it is only natural to gain a couple of pounds, until they start piling up, and you end up overweight and miserable. Also, many will develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, among others. And now, we blame our genes; it runs on the family, we say.

The problem is that we never think that what happens to our body is our own fault. It is so difficult to assume responsibility for our acts that we fabricate excuses to justify our poor behavior. Let me tell you something: you are going to be in this body for a long time; you can’t exchange it or return it. So, you need to take good care of it, otherwise it will be run down and useless.

It is possible to age gracefully and in full health. All you need to do is to respect your body. Provide it with real nourishment, not some fast-food junk you bought because you were in a hurry or because you “didn’t feel like cooking.” Exercise it to keep your joints “well-oiled,” your muscles strong and your heart healthy. And give it enough rest. These are just simple guidelines, yet many people can’t seem to follow.

The good news is that it is never too late to start eating healthier and exercising regularly. You don’t need to change everything at once. Just do one small change at a time. A good start would be assuming responsibility for your health and reflecting on how your actions impact your life and body. If you can set your mind to do the right thing, your body will be happy to follow it.

Carla Torres is an AIF Master Trainer based in Rhodes, NSW. Her mission is to promote exercise, proper nutrition and healthy habits as a way to empower individuals to make decisions leading to better quality of life.