Failure to Launch? How to Get Started with Healthy Living
29 October 2015
I know so many of you out there see all these health fanatics post all these pictures about how amazing their healthy lives are (myself included). And I know that sometimes it can seem so overwhelming to see all the things that these people do to keep themselves in shape. Looking at them may even build up an annoyance or antagonism against the whole idea of eating healthy and exercising – almost as if its some kind of health “cult” that you have to become a part of in order to get the body you want, or achieve the health goals you have in mind. But I promise you it doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be extreme either. You don’t have to be doing crazy yoga balancing acts, run 10km every day, become a vegan or eat superfoods that you have never seen or heard of in your life. These things aren’t for everyone – maybe some of them are for you – who knows? But you will never find out if you don’t START!
I am sure you can find a million reasons why its not the right time, or that you don’t have the time, or that you feel intimidated by the sacrifices required to change your lifestyle. But again – these are ALL excuses, and ones that don’t hold much ground either. We often apply excuses to situations where radical change is required – usually because we as humans naturally resist change. So when you feel the excuses coming along, remind yourself that its simply your innate tendencies coming though, its NOT who you are or how you ACTUALLY feel – and you CAN do whatever has to be done to reach your goal. Be proactive in your approach – find out HOW healthy living CAN work for you, rather than focussing on why it can’t.
We are all unique – we have different lifestyles, different schedules, we have different body types, genetics and then we have different personalities. This all means that we also should have different ways of keeping our health in check. For some that might mean a very rigid program, with daily exercise and strictly portioned meals. For others it may mean switching up processed foods for wholefoods, exercising 2-3 times per week and meditating. It really all boils down to what works for you. Some of us need more structure, others prefer flexibility. And the best way to get started is to figure out WHAT WILL WORK FOR YOU? – Is it something flexible, or something rigid and structured? Would you like to take on the same exercise classes on specific days each week, or would you like to surprise yourself by choosing different classes on different days? Are you the kind of person that wants to eat the same thing for lunch every day or do you like variety? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself when launching a lifestyle change. It needs to fit in with your work demands, your schedule and your personality.
Once you have your basis, and know what type of structure will fit in best with your needs, the next step is to PLAN. Now I know for some of us (especially those who are more spontaneous / “wing-it” type of people) planning is not fun. But trust me it can either make or break your attempts and changing your life for the better. There is inevitably some kind of planning that needs to take place, be it scheduling in time for exercise, preparing meals, deciding what you are going to make for dinner and grocery shopping accordingly. These are the “have to’s” of healthy living. Where the freedom comes in, is in the WHAT. So what exercise classes are you going to sign up for? Maybe you will join a soccer or tennis club? Perhaps you enjoy hiking or running. What type of foods do you like? Do you enjoy proteins – if so which ones are your favourites. What veggies do you like most? What does your monthly food budget look like? – is their room for the superfood luxuries, or will you need to stick to the basics? What meals are easiest for your to make? What days are you more flexible? – maybe these can become the days that you do the majority of your food prep and grocery shopping.
See again we are asking vital questions about you and your life. And by doing this exercise, you will be able to formulate a plan that will work for you within the framework of your everyday life.
Now that you have established what will work for you, you have accepted that planning is required, and have done so accordingly, it’s time to get going! Don’t hesitate, just start! Forget the discomfort, and fear of change, and just jump on. It’s the same as jumping into a cold pool, you just need to push yourself in and then it all becomes so much more pleasant. To help you along your journey, here are my top tips for attaining lasting overall health.
- Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. You don’t need to look or be like the “instafit folks” – believe me they look that way through YEARS of hard work. These things don’t happen overnight, so don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Use these people as your inspiration, but don’t obsess with becoming like them – focus on YOU – focus on becoming the best version of yourself. This is about you, and no one else.
- Stop fixating on what others are doing and focus on yourself. Set your own goals, work on your own body and eat in a way that works for you. Just because Kayla does lots of HITT training most days, doesn’t mean you have to too. That works very well for her, but maybe you will prefer something gentler? Maybe your body type requires a more relaxed form of exercise, such as yoga or Pilates. Listen to your body and your nutritional needs. That way you will be able to build a lifestyle plan that works for YOU specifically.
- Find your Will Power: If we see ourselves as someone who never follows through or that we have low willpower or don’t deserve good health, we won’t get it (or at least not for long). Find references from your past experiences when you were successful at achieving something you set out to accomplish. What words would you use to describe the type of person you were when that happened? Were you driven, determined, brave, courageous, hardworking, and inspirational? Reinforce these beliefs about yourself on a constant basis.
- Shine Positive Light on Your Health: In the past, I’ve been guilty of saying things like, “I should be working out right now,” or “I can’t eat that." If the meaning we give exercise and healthy eating is one of restriction, deprivation, a chore, a pain or even something that’s only short-term, we tend to struggle with making it a priority.When we can find ways to find pleasure in physical activity and to make healthier food choices, we’re golden. So pay attention to the words you use when you talk about exercise or healthy food. Make a mindful effort to change the words you associate with fitness and food.
- Enjoy yourself! Healthy living can be so much fun: Find ways you incorporate healthful activities into your holidays, get creative and experiment with new recipes. Kick habitual behaviours to the curb and try new things. Make exercise social by training with your friends, or joining a class where you can meet new people. Try out a healthy cooking class, or browse through some of the great health food blogs out there and find some exciting recipes you can try out. Make your health playful, experimental and fun!
Above all, don’t let doubt or fear get in the way! Just go for it! You are worth it. And just remember, that your health is the most important investment you will ever make.
Yours in Health Always,