It has been a while since I posted a blog. I have been trying to formulate my 2014 New Years fitness "thoughts". If you regularly read my blogs, you know I love fitness. From my point of view, adopting a healthier lifestyle doesn't have to be about deprivation. Instead, it can be a positive process involving adding things to your life, such as daily movement and healthy food, that enrich your existence.
It has taken me a few weeks to blog because I have been wrestling with something. I worry that the upbeat "take-away" messages of my blogs have been misinterpreted as signifying a belief that adopting a healthier lifestyle should be easy. Unfortunately, usually this is not the case. Unhealthy habits are not formed in a day, and likewise, healthy habits will take time and work. Health is a lifelong process. An unbelievably rewarding process, but as with many rewarding experiences, one that takes work.
So, if you have 2014 health goals, take steps to set yourself up for success. First, record not only your goals, but why the goals are important, as well as the steps you need to take to achieve them. Whenever you want to abandon your goals, read over the recording and remind yourself why you initially formed them.
Next, have a serious discussion with yourself. Warn yourself that, no matter how much "prep work" you do, changing your habits will take hard work!
People often refer to "my dedication" like it was something I was born with, like my height or hair color. I am flattered they admire my dedication, but don't be fooled, it is not "natural". Yes, I have formed habits that makes it slightly easier for me to make healthy choices, but I still have to rededicate myself to health every day. I was an unhealthy teenager and I still often hear my old life of junk food, massive portions and hibernating on the sofa calling to me.
I was reading an article the other day by an athlete who nicely summed up how he maintains his active lifestyle. He said that, in order to fulfill his long term goals, he often has to take a SIU pill (suck it up pill) to make himself do things he doesn't want to do in the short-term. Part of adopting a healthier lifestyle is finding the balance between short and long term satisfaction.
I have had many moments where I didn't want to train. In the short term, sleeping would make me happier, but I take the SIU pill and I make myself train because I know I will feel awesome after! I live by the words "you are only one workout away from a better mood".
So, if you have health and fitness goals, prepare yourself. You may have to take a few "SIU" pills, and that is okay.
I am not talking about making yourself eat something you hate, you are allergic to, or doing a workout that will injure you. Obviously, as with everything, perspective and balance is important. Relaxing and enjoying all foods in moderation is part of adopting a healthier lifestyle long-term. That said, if there are healthy foods you are ambivalent about, like broccoli or kale, sometimes you should just to choose to eat them over the unhealthy option you love. Or at least, eat more of the healthy option.
I had a client the other day tell me she doesn't like protein at breakfast. I said, so? Protein is important. I told her to get over her distaste and find a form of it she can tolerate. As long as you are not allergic to a particular food, sometimes you just have to learn to tolerate healthy options.
This is especially true at the beginning. You need to change your taste buds and health habits so that you create new health normals. At the beginning, it is hard to make yourself be active or eat your greens, but once you are used to it, it feels weird not to move and eat your vegetables.
The main take-away is, until you change your health habits, norms, taste buds and internal health dialogue, making healthier choices will take mindfulness and dedication. Prepare yourself for hard work! Health is a process. Part of that process is finding the balance between instant satisfaction and long term-success. Putting up with a short term annoyance is a small price to pay for health, happiness and satisfaction in the long-term. Obviously, everyone's goals and daily realities are different, thus this balance will differ person to person! Find the balance for you! If you don't succeed initially, keep trying. Remember, health is not a linear process. Simply aim to have more health habits next month than you did this month!