Moving Beyond the Words
Over the last several months, we’ve learned so many new ideas, tips, methods and even attitudes we can all use towards living a healthier life and reaching our personal goals. It’s been encouraging to hear so many who sound really motivated and are definitely talking the talk. There are daily declarations of living life with a positive attitude, letting go of the negative, excitement about working out and working hard and there’s certainly an eagerness to improve one’s health. What we need to address now is how to turn those words into actions so we can actually start to move forward and see some results. Take a moment to really ask yourself the questions below. With honesty and determination we can truly start moving beyond the words and start walking the walk together.
Am I really ready for a change? We all know what we’re “supposed” to do. The basics have been said over and over, the foundation for a healthy life has been laid out for us and there are a million different strategies, techniques and health programs that claim to be the answer. I’ve given my ideas on how one can figure out what works best for each person but the more I hear and see the choices people make and in the same day say they want to make a change, I understand more and more it all comes down to our true motivation and what’s really guiding us along the way.
We already know we don’t need junk food, fast food, sugary drinks, saturated fats, heavy sweets, etc. Personally, I know that when I indulge in any of these foods for whatever reason, I tend to feel pretty awful afterwards. Past any enjoyment at first taste, if I overdo it, once it goes down I eventually become lethargic, moody and unmotivated to exercise. If, however, I still believed that any of the above was an overwhelming source of pleasure, an overall positive experience or a necessity to feel satisfied, I would say I was NOT ready for a change at all. The contradiction is too great. If something still makes you feel that good and you still value that temporary indulgence over your own overall health or long-term view of your own self-worth, it’s pretty difficult to suddenly start to cut any of it out. The same goes for not exercising when you know you should. If you haven’t found something you really enjoy moving to or your concept of an exercise isn’t intrinsically positive, how do you expect to really maintain or even begin any activity?
The difference from where I was when I shifted my life compared to others who can’t seem to find that first step, is that I had given up the idea of a magic number or the concept of “I’ll be happy when…” and just decided I want to FEEL better now, I want to feel good about myself now and I want to be healthy now. If your motivation is still external and your choices still contradict your words, your attempt to make a change is going to be that much more difficult. Be honest with yourself before you try to do anything new and when you know you really are ready then start thinking about the first step that’s right for you.
Where should I begin? Now that you’ve found an internal motivation, it’s time to take a good look at your surroundings. Your day-to-day relationships, family, work and social life will speak volumes when it comes to how you make your decisions and this is going to be just as tough, if not the toughest step, in making any changes.
I’ve put off discussing this challenge until now because my method was not intentional and not one many can adopt but it is such a huge issue for everyone that it has to be addressed. With my initial shift in lifestyle, I found myself in a situation where my only family was over 200 miles away and living completely alone in this stage of my life allowed me the opportunity to choose to live however I wanted to live. I had no one to answer to but myself. Not eating out often and beginning to exercise was easy with no one to answer to or question me. Simply put, if you are ready for a change and you value that lifestyle of healthy living, it is a choice you have to make for you and possibly your family and healthy alternatives will just have to become a regular necessity for everyone.
I have been on average the same weight for the past 5 years and one desk job I found myself in a few years ago had an atmosphere of ordering in food as an office on a regular basis. By that time, I had developed a habit of not eating out much at all but this was on the expense of our employer so why wouldn’t I join in on free lunches and occasional breakfast tacos? What I found for me was that even if I chose salads, the leanest meals possible and ate only half of my order EVERY single time it was STILL a sudden struggle to keep my weight in check! The bottom line is that no restaurant out there prepares food the way that I do for me and without being able to control every ingredient and only have appropriate portions, I was going to gain weight if I continued to participate in their daily lunches. I finally decided to opt out on a regular basis, went back to bringing my lunch to work and only joined in for special occasions. My lifestyle was commented on regularly, but I also like to believe that I motivated a few others to at least consider making healthier choices a little more often than before.
When we find ourselves in the habit of eating large portions and poor quality foods when we’re with our families, at work or out with friends, choosing to make healthier choices can feel isolating and anti-social. It’s human nature to want to fit in and yet if you’re surrounded by those who choose foods you’re trying to avoid or who don’t support activities you want to engage in, you’re not only without a support system but you will more than likely be ridiculed for being the odd one out. First of all, it’s always important to NOT take negative comments by others personally. Their opinions stem from their personal issues not yours and that goes for anything and everything. Secondly, if you truly are ready for a change and you’ve decided internally that it’s time to do something for YOU and YOUR health, you have to evaluate your surroundings honestly and decide what you need and don’t need and DO something about it.
On the flip-side, surrounding yourself with as many like-minded people who live a healthy lifestyle you hope to emulate is another key to success towards wellness. You need a support system whether it’s to help remind you of your internal motivations to treat yourself better, to eat well, get moving or just believing you’re worth more than a number on a scale, on your clothes or on a chart in your doctor’s office. There’s value to you and who you are and the more you invest yourself in you on the inside, the more those words you’ve chosen to repeat become your actions and eventually an authentic lifestyle of healthy living.