Want others to live healthy? Start leading by example

Exercising TogetherGandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Simple enough, right? If we want to make the world a kinder place, then we need to exercise kindness. If we want others to be healthy, then we need to be healthy ourselves. Yet, straightforward as this concept appears to be, we tend to over-complicate things in our day-to-day lives. Getting so caught up in the ‘how’ that we forget why we are doing it in the first place. So the question really is how can we best be the change?

Buckle up kids, time for a tangent. I have always had an active imagination. In my hanabata days, I really wanted to be a comic book artist. I always had some skill with art, but my medium was definitely pencil drawings. For the most part, I drew my pictures and kept them to myself.

One day, I decided I needed to do more with my life (I was in elementary school, by the way) and share my drawings with the world. While I loved comics, the thought of being able to not only share the imagery my mind but inspire those around me was AWESOME. So I did what any self-righteous, inspired, motivated 7-year-old would do – I drew my pictures and shared them with anyone I could find. Superheroes, buildings, spaceships – each drawing had a storyline behind it, each character a history. While I never did make it as a comic book artist, I did learn an invaluable lesson – change is possible, but it requires work.

Entertaining story, but so what? Well, I think that a lot can be said about processes – the underlying common denominators of a concept. As a 7-year-old, I wanted to inspire creativity and imagination so I pulled a Gandhi and exemplified the change I wished to see around me. I did not understand it then, but I get it now. Change is a process that can be broken down into its most basic components with a “what,” a “why,” and a “how.” Respectively, our perceptions, intentions, and actions guide the process that is change.

I felt as if people around me needed more imagination (perception) and believed that it was my place to open their minds (intention), so I drew my pictures and shared it with others (action).

So if you are looking at changing something in the world around you, take some time to answer these questions:

1. What is that you feel needs to be changed?

2. Why is this important to you?

3. How can you best get started?

If you want your children to get off the computer and be more active, then get active yourself. If you want your co-workers to eat healthier, then bring salads to work. You will find that being the change you wish to see in the world, really does start with one person – you.

MikeTenganMichael Tengan is owner and a certified personal trainer at Prime Fitness and executive director of Sweet Annie, a grassroots organization committed to championing a healthier lifestyle for Hawaii’s communities. Sweet Annie focuses on food access, health education and lifestyle changes. Tengan grew up on Maui, more comfortable with plate lunches and mac salad than with quinoa and legumes. His journey toward living a healthy lifestyle was a long one, and involved breaking the bad habits he learned as a kid.


  • So true! In my mom’s groups the more I make green veggie snacks or bring more organic the more I see other moms getting an opportunity to see their children enjoying crunchy green food dipped in homemade hummus! It’s great! Plus, neat fruit salads – the more color the better – are always a hit!


  • Mahalo for your words of inspiration!


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