Barrington Bennett, Jr., has worked for more than a decade as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. At each session, he makes clear that engaging the body is equally about engaging the mind and spirit. Below, Bennett shares with ESSENCE his ten commandments to follow when embarking on a health journey.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others, including who you once were. This is your journey now. That doesn’t mean being complacent or satisfied. It means understanding and accepting yourself, and loving yourself, as is, from your current place of strength.  Because it’s from this place that you can truly—and healthfully—realize who you can become.
  2. Get to know your “why?” Whether it’s to lose 5 pounds or to lose 100 pounds, see abs or run a marathon, truly understand and be completely transparent with yourself about why this is your goal. 
  3. Be wary of starting a “streak.” We do this naturally with the ever-popular Day One!  This is not going to be a perfect journey, because life is not a perfect journey. The possibility of slipping, numerous times, and still succeeding is way more realistic. A slip is an invitation to get back up.
  4. Begin your mornings quietly and in solitude. That first 20 minutes should be dedicated to reading, thinking, meditating or journaling—anything that allows you to give yourself to yourself.
  5. Set up strict wind-down time in the evening. You’ve spent your day on other people’s schedules and you need time to restore and release. Setting boundaries helps us set a tone for our life and be intentional in our choices.  We are made to rush so much, we often don’t even notice what we’re doing or have done. And like anything else that’s important to us, living healthy and whole requires we pay attention to our choices around time and energy.
  6. Keep a food diary.  Notice what you eat. The same way you would notice how clothes fit or a lipstick looks, food is dressing up our insides. We should be aware of what we pick.
  7. Have fun with food!  Pick a color each week and then add fruits and vegetables of that color to your diet. We’re green people—collards, broccoli.  But there are so many delicious foods out there that are good for us–and they’re red, yellow, orange. And all those foods have nutrients that are designed to strengthen us.  This is also something you can do with kids, passing on to them good choices about food and living. 
  8. Try to drink 100 ounces of water a day. I know it sounds like a lot but aim for it. Water intake can help with diseases and illnesses commonly found in our communities–diabetes, for example, and high blood pressure. Water is vitality.
  9. Don’t give into the extremism about what makes a person healthy. There are so many folks out there who make us think that in order to be healthy we have to walk on our hands or run a marathon. Not true. We can begin with 20 minutes of cardio every day and you don’t even have to do it all at once. And if you’re already in a regular routine, use this time to reassess your goals with a professional. Can you challenge yourself in another way? Are you doing all the exercises correctly and reducing the possibility of harm?
  10. Be kind and patient with yourself. This takes time.

Barrington Bennett, Jr., has worked for more than a decade as a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. Connect with him at www.BeTheBetter.com and on IG at Barrington_BTB

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