When I sit down with people to discuss their lifestyle and all the contributing factors to their health, I am constantly amazed by this “victim” mentality we seem to adopt as a general society. You would think we live in some sort of matrix where we are force-fed cheeseburgers and never allowed time to break a sweat for the sake of our health and sanity. We talk a lot about “will-power” as if it’s something some people have and others don’t, without examining what’s really going on in our own journey that is inhibiting progress, motivation, and a general sense of accomplishment.
I’d argue that at the heart of the issue is a lack of introspection. Taking the time to truly consider the health choices we make on a daily basis that are either fostering good habits OR contributing to our decline. And yes, I say “choice” because it is. From the morsels that touch your lips to the effort to put forth on the treadmill (or lack thereof), it is a conscious decision. Does this mean that there are not environmental factors that pull at our time and energy? No, absolutely not. This is life. It’s a beautiful mess we are to navigate as best we can. However, we have more power than we truly understand to actively create and sustain an environment that not only supports positive health choices, but makes it easier to do so. This is huge! It’s a shift from reacting TO the things around us that we constantly complain are roadblocks on our health journey, to actually tapping into our power to reconstruct aspects of our environment for the better. The amazing thing is that when we do this, we actually exert LESS willpower on a daily basis because we are no longer fighting a battle against time, energy expenditure, food temptations, and the list could go on…
As redundant as it sounds, yes, the ultimate goal is a lifestyle change. We hear it all the time…because it truly is the key to continued health/fitness progression and success.
There are 2 main aspects I want to touch on that we all need to honestly examine, assume responsibility, and then change: Home Nutrition and Sweat Time. Yes, there are endless scenarios I could go into, but these are the two overarching issues that often arise with my clients. Before reading further, consider your daily routine and habits, and then simply be open to the possibility that you may have to stop pointing the finger and actually put parts of your life under construction…
KEEP THE HOUSE A NUTRITIONAL HAVEN
Take a peek in your pantry and refrigerator. Whatever is in there, you will eat. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Stop believing you’re some sort of impenetrable super hero with endless will power.
You’re not. Period.
Give us all one emotionally-charged moment and we are digging through the “stash” like a crazed 5 year old. One of the most beneficial moves you can make for yourself is to completely eliminate the temptations you know you will give into. The idea is not to say you can never have something, but rather make it less convenient to get off track when it comes to your nutrition habits.
Guess what? Not in the house = less convenient.
Some of the obvious things include chips, candy, etc…but “healthy” foods that we tend to over-indulge in can be problematic as well. If you know you cannot honestly grab a small portion of peanuts and be done, then keep them out of the house for awhile. It’s not about deprivation, but rather a step to regain control and responsibility where it’s lacking.
Start by asking yourself a few questions to better understand your habits and the culprit of many “off-the-wagon” moments…
· * What foods do I tend to over-indulge in when it comes to portions?
· * What foods do I gravitate towards when stressed/sad/angry/worried?
· * What foods are so tempting I literally have to eat when I see them?
Proper nutrition is king when it comes to bodily functions, sustainable energy, and ultimately fat-loss. The more you understand the motivation behind your food habits, the better equipped you are to correct poor ones and create healthier ones. Again, it’s about recreating an environment conductive to meeting our goals without exerting unnecessary willpower. Your kitchen should not be your battlefield.
EFFORT AND COMMITMENT TO SWEAT TIME
It’s no argument that activity/exercise is beneficial to the mind and body. We are beyond that particular case study, and yet 70% of people who begin an exercise regimen will quit. 70 percent….unbelievably sad. But after being in the industry for nearly a decade now, I see common themes arise that set the majority up for a “start, stop, repeat” journey. So whether you are already full committed to your fitness routine and practically live in the gym, or are finding yourself once again trying to get-back-on-the-wagon, here are a few strategies/tips to help establish and maintain a progressive active lifestyle:
· * Examine your schedule and be realistic about what you can give and when you can give it. An hour, 30 minutes, 22 minutes…whatever, it’s more about consistency. Make the appointment with yourself, write it down, and KEEP IT.
· * Find an accountability partner. This does not necessarily have to be someone you workout with, but someone who will honestly hold you accountable to your goals, routine, and plan of action. Trainers are GREAT for this…hint hint.
· * Have your gear always ready. Going home after work and getting comfortable on the couch is too tempting for most, so pack your bag and have it ready to go in the car. You’ll be amazed at the additional will power you’ll save by avoiding the entire battle with the throw pillows at 5pm.
· * Give yourself 10 minutes to get going. It’s unfortunate how often people enter the gym with some version of “Ugh, I don’t feel like working out today.” Well, truth is there are days I don’t either. That’s life. However, the other option is to bypass the very thing that you need in that moment and basically marinade in your lack of motivation. Make it a non-option and get moving. Allow yourself 10 minutes to wake-up, regroup, acknowledge your feelings and then actually push beyond them. Choose to move forward.
* * *
Each day we have the opportunity to progress.
To respectfully and honestly examine where we are and where we are headed in our health journey.
The goal is to piece together our lifestyle/habits in such a way that maintains a delicate balance between that which challenges us enough to produce growth, and that which offers release and comfort from daily demands of life. When we are constantly exerting unnecessary effort and willpower by reacting TO our environment, we deny ourselves the responsibility and empowerment available through the small things that are undoubtedly in our control. It is in those seemingly small, proactive changes that we ultimately create an environment more conducive to a successful, progressive quest for greater health.