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Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional and author of the award winning book, CindySays… "You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World."

These days the term "Lifestyle" has taken on a life of its own. Lifestyle is your very own, self-assigned "Big Brother," and he follows your every move, even though he's rather quiet and unobtrusive for the most part. More than likely, you won't meet him until you're well into mid-life. 

The interesting thing about Lifestyle is how some people are eager to meet him while others try to give him the slip and would rather never meet him. The reason why some can't wait to come face to face with him and others dread him is simply a matter of choice — specifically the personal choices they've made since they've been old enough to make them.

Those people who have tried to eat well and stay active and stayed away from bad habits like cigarettes really have nothing to fear when it comes to Lifestyle. On the other hand, those who believed they were invincible and had the notion that Lifestyle could never affect them are feeling distressed. In fact, they are looking over their shoulder with trepidation in their 40s realizing that Lifestyle just might be catching up with them. 

Opting for optimal health

The truth is that throwing caution to the wind and making years of poor choices in terms of nutrition, physical activity and stress management will almost certainly rear its ugly head sooner or later. If you can relate to this, it's probably time to examine your habits and see if they are going to lead to vibrant health or poor health. 

Try to replace those bad habits with good ones. The first step is to identify unhealthy habits and behaviors and then make a commitment to change them. Procrastination is one of the most common habits, so if this is something that is preventing you from improving the quality of your life, you may want to work on this one first. 

Here are some habits that will only steal life and vitality from you:

Smoking/chewing tobacco

Find a way to quit. There are lots of avenues to assist you on this one. Take advantage of the help. Once you are no longer dependent on tobacco, you will have more energy to adopt other healthy behaviors such as regular physical activity. 

Inactivity

If you are sedentary, your cardiovascular and respiratory systems will become weaker each day. Muscles shrink, joints stiffen, energy depletes and you increase your risk for chronic disease and injury. Move at least 30 minutes a day and include strength training.

Living on junk food

Processed fast foods do nothing for you nutritionally and in fact sabotage your good health. They are high in sodium and fats and low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Eat lean protein and lots of colorful vegetables.

Sugary beverages

This will make it impossible to control your weight and will supply you with nothing but empty calories and chemicals. Easy and inexpensive switch — drink water. It should be your primary source of hydration.

Too much alcohol

Again full of empty calories. Overindulging will damage your body and prevent you from living life to its fullest. Learn to say no and choose water instead.

Staying sleep deprived

Insufficient sleep wreaks havoc with your body and increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease. Unplug yourself from all screens such as the TV, computer, phones and any device that you stare into and allow your body to recharge.

Not managing stress

Stress comes in all forms and from all directions and there is no way to completely escape, it but it must be managed. Ask for help to cope with your stressors and you will live longer with fewer headaches, lower blood pressure and less depressed moments. 

Take control. Be sure that the choices you make are ones that not only make you proud but also support a long and healthy life.