The value of grit: how to transform your health

Life necessitates that everyone sets health goals. Yet to our dismay, there are unhealthy and easily accessible leisure and food options available everywhere. Television is free and fast food is both fast and affordable. So what keeps us from eating fries on our couch every night in front of the tube? After a certain age, most bodies start to give the owner some challenges. It is finely tuned machine that needs more than 5 hours of sleep and 2200 calories a day to keep it running smoothly. So, with the natural desire to be a donut eating couch potato; how do we instead decide to get off the couch, take a run, and eat healthy meals?

Recent research suggests that one’s level of grit, more than talent or intelligence, has the final word on success. One famous researcher of grit, Angela Duckworth, says grit is, “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” According to American Public Media's website about Duckworth's research; talent or intelligence are not enough to explain success. The website sites Ducksworth's studies about Ivy League students. Students less intelligent than their peers compensated “by working harder and with more determination.” In fact, highly intelligent students had less grit than their intellectually average peers. Consequently, highly intelligent students actually fared less academically. It was “the grittiest students -- not the smartest ones -- had the highest GPAs.”

How can this information help us dictate our personal health? According to this article, genes play a major role in how we digest food and how much we weigh. Moreover, some genes can transfer diseases, such as celiacs. But genes are only a part of the equation on what determines optimal health. For example, if someone with celiac disease has the grit to maintain a completely gluten-free diet (this is no small feat mind you), they can live an active, normal, and healthy life. The same goes for many health conditions. Exercise, eating nourishing food, and being vigilant advocates for our personal health plays a monumental role on our overall health. But to all of that, we must have grit.

One unanswered questions remains: how is grit cultivated? Is there a grit gene? Probably not. Likely grit is engendered from a the strong desire to achieve a visualized goal. This goal is developed not from negative thoughts (i.e. “I am so out of shape! I'm ashamed of my body”) but from positive thoughts and dreams (i.e. “I cannot wait until I can run a marathon! In a few months I will be wearing these jeans again!”). The more you can make your goals a source of joy and pride, the more likely you will have the grit to get you off that couch day after day, opening a healthy snack (like Kay's Naturals) and heading to the gym smiling. 

So what do you think? Have you got the grit?


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