Are you feeling frustrated by your health process? Discouraged even? Have you completely (or partially) fallen off your fitness horse — again? Still on your horse, but slowly sliding?
Most likely you have — unknowingly — set yourself up for health failure!
Do you try to suffer through workouts you hate? Berate yourself after making less-than-ideal health choices with language you would never use on a loved one?
Have you bought into the myth that a workout has to be at a gym to be worthwhile or that active people are "naturally" healthy, so why even try to emulate their habits?
Do you have an all-or-nothing mentality? Are you letting fear of being imperfect keep you from healthfully striving for gradual progress?
Of course your motivation is waning. Who can make themselves (long term) do a workout they hate, especially if they're under the false impression that workouts have to be "perfect" to be worthwhile, or completed at a specific (often inconvenient) location, such as a gym? Who feels motivated by a cruel internal dialogue? Who feels inspired by the untrue "story" that fit people don't have to work at being healthy?
The answer? No one. Or at least, no one I know, and for sure not me.
To successfully adopt a healthier lifestyle, overhaul your mindset and find the fun. Always keep in mind that for different results you need different thoughts, actions, and decisions. To create change, a mindset overhaul is typically required.
Stop trying to replace something you think of as "fun" (relaxing, time with friends, eating, etc) with something you deem painful (exercise, healthy eating, etc.)
How? First, reframe healthy experiences ("I am grateful my body can move" vs "It is not fair I have to exercise"); understand the new habit as pleasurable, not painful. Simultaneously, work to find and create activities you actually enjoy! Of course you will ditch your healthy habits if you're framing new healthy choices as painful — i.e., less "fun" — than your original habit.
Adopting a healthier lifestyle is an active process. To quote the title of my book, you have to find your fit. It does not matter what works for your brother or neighbour; find what works for you.
For me, running and listening to music is fun. Going to fitness classes with friends is fun. Kickboxing is fun. Swimming and then being cold all day is not. Olympic weight lifting is not.
For Caleb (A.K.A. The Fitness Marshall — the king of fun fitness dance videos and host of the new show "Life of a Fitness Pop Star" on Verizon go90), dancing is fun. Caleb professes that if he didn't dance he wouldn't do cardio. He knows that running and swimming may be "better" workouts, but he would not do them as often or with as much passion. Thus, dancing is the best option for him. Listen to his inspiring mini video on how it is key to find your fit here.
"Fun" means different things to different people. If "hard core" training motivates you, obviously do that. I am by no means saying that you should abandon all intense workouts.
What I am saying is ...
1. Find what inspires you and do that.
2. Stop aiming for "workout perfection." Embrace that the "best" workout won't benefit you if you can't make yourself do it. Stay in your own fitness lane. Curate a plan that works for you based on realistic, personal goals.
3. Embrace that no one — or at least no one I have ever met, even fellow fitness professionals — has a steady, never-ending well of motivation. Health is an active process for everyone.
I was not born loving fitness. I have made myself enjoy being active. Even today I often require a stern, yet compassionate, talking to before a workout; I walk myself through how my "future self" will feel depending on the choice I make. Don't just take my word for it. Caleb openly admits he hates working out, but makes himself go because he knows he will feel amazing after.
4. Use experiences — even bad ones — as lessons. Caleb learned the dangers of restrictive eating the hard way, but now focuses on nutritionally dense foods. The result? He feels stronger and more confident. Growing up I was unhealthy, awkward and overweight. I hated my body. Those years — although excruciating — fostered empathy and compassion.
Caleb and I can find our fitness fun in large part because of those challenges; we are "us" because of those challenges, not despite them.
We all — even fitness professionals — have C+ health days. We all have to fight our negative brain propaganda.
Start setting yourself up for success.
When you fall off your health horse, get back on ASAP, and learn from all choices and experiences. Don't "snowball" — one cookie is not the same as five cookies. One missed workout is not the same as five missed workouts. Make the best decisions possible in each moment.
Reframe healthy choices as a positive. Let go of the common resentment discourse of health. Have gratitude for what your body can do and the healthy food you can eat; health is a privilege. Personalize your plan. Work on self-compassion and forming a healthier internal dialogue.
Most critically, don't just find the fun — create your fun.
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