As a health coach and fitness trainers, we are often faced with the reality of people not treating their health as a lifestyle journey. Instead, they are too focused on a desired outcome, becoming discouraged and giving up altogether when they don’t get there fast enough. The goals are great, but it’s all the other details that make them a reality. If you want to be a healthier weight, what are you going to do that will affect that? If you want to run your first race, what steps will you take to cross that finish line? If your plan is to pay for your child’s college in 15 years, what will you sacrifice today in order to achieve that?
Big goals and healthy lifestyles take just as much mental endurance as physical. To stay in it for the long haul, employ the following strategies to help you make a lasting effort in creating a healthy lifestyle without feeling like a failure and hitting the snooze button on your goals.
Hang up the negative preconceived notions.
You can’t go into a new workout routine, healthy eating pattern or business endeavor thinking about past failure and assuming you’re doomed to repeat it. If you keep pressing forward with that sort of outlook, you are certain to fail because you’re anticipating failure. Instead…
The direction of our thoughts snowballs in the direction we entertain. When we focus on the negative, the negativity is seen in everything and it will always take over. The same is true when we have a more positive and encouraging perspective: We are kinder to ourselves and to others. Focus on what makes you feel good deep down inside. Once you have that front and center, roll with it!
Know your triggers.
A key to long term success and reaching goals is being able to recognize the things that throw us off track so we know how to avoid them and get back en route once we get derailed. A smoker desiring to quit tobacco use must know his or her triggers to desiring a cigarette in order to overcome that desire when faced with it. If you know chocolate, alcohol, mindless shopping or a warm, comfy couch are your weaknesses, then address those things in your life. If it means not having them around, steering clear of them or treating them as a reward to mini successes, then know it, own it and don’t wallow in a lack of self-control.
Create a supportive environment.
A supportive environment will make or break you! If the pantry is full of poor food choices, the DVR is full of all the shows you are trying to catch up on, and the coupon for the new coat you just have to have is sitting on the front seat of your car, what’s going to stop you from sitting on your butt, eating junk and shopping to your heart’s content? The answer is nothing. Until we surround ourselves with people and things that line up with our ultimate goal to lose weight, run a race or save money, temptations will forever be lurking from every corner of your life.
Have a plan of attack.
Like we always say to our clients, “don’t jump on the band wagon unless you know where it’s going.” Now that you’ve surrounded yourself with the things and frame of mind that will support you and weeded out the things that won’t, it’s time to have a plan. Having a plan allows us enough margin or room for healthy boundaries so we aren’t always walking a fine line of temptation. For us, this might mean looking at a restaurant menu prior to heading out to dinner with friends or it might mean setting an alarm or reminder on your calendar to get up and move during the day. For others it might mean making a healthy grocery list and sticking to it so in a moment of weakness the junk food isn’t even within reach. Simply saying “no” to the next event that fills your calendar can play a key role in your success because mental clarity and downtime are vital to making conscious decisions.
Focus on what you ARE going to do.
This thought process lines up nicely with the positivity we previously mentioned. When we focus on all the food we can’t have or all the sodas we won’t drink, they are the very things we will think about all the time. When we focus instead on what we will do, the experience becomes more encouraging. So instead of drinking that soda, eating those french fries or watching a marathon of our favorite show, we tell ourselves, “When I want a soda, I will drink 16 ounces of water first and then evaluate if I still want the soda.” Chances are you won’t. When we would rather sit on the couch watching TV for hours on end, we tell ourselves, “I will allow myself to have down time, BUT instead of sitting in a heap for a couple of hours, I will perform a five minute workout between each show or during commercial breaks.
TRY THIS WORKOUT!
Perform 25 repetitions of each exercise for three rounds >
Never fail. Always learn.
Healthy lifestyle endeavors are not a matter of passing and failing. When we fall off the wagon, we get back up and try again. We never fail at a diet or exercise plan; Instead, we learn what didn’t work for us. When we focus on what we learn through life’s experiences and obstacles, we glean a more encouraging experience. We will be more grateful for the opportunities, less harsh on ourselves and more eager to get up and try again in order to find what we do enjoy and what does work.
If your New Year’s resolution is far behind you and you’ve given up, we encourage you to try again. Put into practice some of the things we’ve mentioned here and leave a comment below letting us know how you’ve faired! Remember, you’re in it for the long haul rather than a temporary solution.
Lauren Peper and Jennifer Broughton are the health coaches and personal trainers behind Two Fit Girls, a Raleigh, NC-based company specializing in health coaching, boot camps and healthy foods. To learn more about Two Fit Girls, join their fitness community on Facebook or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.