This story is probably familiar for a lot of people; you want to get stronger in the gym, you want to eat more nutrient dense foods, you want to tone up or gain/ lose some weight. You have all the ideas on how to do it, the equipment and a little bit of knowledge to get you going in the right direction. You will notice that some individuals will be able to succeed and maintain their success for a lifetime or sometimes we that success start to slowly taper off with old habits returning. Another thing that happens a lot is that some individuals will start with the best of intentions but throw in the towel within a few weeks or even days. Do you relate to the last two scenarios I mentioned? If so then you could benefit from the rest of this post. Even if you do not feel like, "this is me," there is still much to be taken into consideration over the next few minutes as you read on..
What I want everyone to know is that because you didn’t succeed, that does not mean anything is wrong with you, or that you can’t do it. You need a different approach. You need a change in behavior. Seems simple but yet it isn’t. Let’s dive into that a little further….
The person who succeeds and who can maintain their success for a lifetime can do so because they have changed their behavior. They were able to decipher that there was a threat to their overall health or wellbeing if they did not change behaviors. If there is no perceived threat to the person's wellbeing then no lasting change will happen. The threat doesn’t have to be life or death though. Think along the lines of just, “going through the motions.” When you do that, you aren't driving or fostering real change, you aren’t being present with what you need. When you adopt behavior changes you are able to handle things in life that might come in and disrupt your fitness or nutrition game, you might take a step off the wagon for a few days or weeks but are able to easily hop back on. This idea doesn’t just apply to fitness and health, let's talk about those now!
You can turn these perceived threats into helpful behaviors for many aspects of your life. Let's talk about your car. If you do not keep up maintenance on your car, change the oil, fluids, tires, brakes etc, it will fall apart or be unsafe to get you from point A to point B. If you do not water your plants that you love, they could die. If you do not keep up with the changing aspects of your job, you are more at risk to lose it. You view not taking action on these examples as threats to you and some parts of your life, so you keep up with them. You keep your car up to date, you water your plants, you learn new things for your job. We could name lots of other ideas that have the same perceived threats and corresponding behaviors but we will be sticking with what I know best for the rest of this blog and talk about exercise, nutrition and more movement. Now, don’t go searching rapidly in your brain or scanning your environment for threats that you think can help you change behaviors in regards to your health. It is more of a natural thing, an internal awakening within yourself that drives the change, not perceiving any threats to your health right now could mean that you are not quite ready for change. And that is OKAY. Whatever the day, month or year is, it is never too late to start. How do you start to change your own behavior if you aren’t feeling a threat but feel a need somewhere deep down to start moving in the right direction? Change your behavior towards how you view what you need to do. Perception is everything.
"Your behavior changing is the key to your continued success"
Some things you just cannot change, like the fact that exercise, movement and decent nutrition IS GOOD FOR YOU. It’s good today, tomorrow and until the end of time. A lot of us just plain don’t like exercise, so how do we start incorporating it into our lives? You try to change your feelings (feelings initiate behavior) towards it. If you view it as a negative thing, that makes you tired, sweaty or sore then that will continue to be true for you. If you find that walking makes you feel better, stronger and influences you do other better things for yourself, then make that a daily behavior. Are you wanting to change the fact that you eat too much take out or fast food? If you see that you are not able to control yourself on your way to or from work with the distractions of all the fast food places, change the behavior. Take a different route or pack a snack that is easy to eat in the car so that you are not so tempted to stop. Are you wanting to up the amount of weight you lift in your workouts? If you want to get stronger and lift heavier weights, don’t just one day for the 10s, 15s or 20s. Start with your 3 or 5 pound weights and each week you can progress up in weight a few pounds. Your behavior changing is the key to your continued success. I want to share my story with you all about my behavior changes.
My story started in early 2014 when I got my yearly physical. My blood pressure was the highest it's ever been, I was about 20ish pounds overweight, I felt sluggish and I only worked out so that I could eat whatever crap was put in front of me. One day I woke up and just viewed all this as a threat to my health. I thought that if I continued these behaviors, things would continue to spiral out of my control over the years. That threat caused me to take action. I made a plan, this was before I was a personal trainer. I wrote out the workouts I would do each day of the week at 5am, since I had to be at work by 7am. I told myself I would stop drinking energy drinks each day. That was very difficult but I ended up making a new friend, a cup of coffee each day with limited sugar and creamer. I ate pretty much the same things for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 6 days a week. I packed healthier snacks to take with me wherever I went. I also allowed myself to indulge or to say no to “treats.” I checked in with myself when temptations came across my lap. Am I really hungry? Am I just bored? Am I craving this? How will this make me feel after I eat it? Am I already nourished with good food for the day? Do I just want the damn thing? I will come back in 10 minutes and if I am still dying for it, I will eat it. Will eating this thing I am craving solve the way I am feeling about other external forces in my life? Etc. Etc. You all can laugh at me now but I think a LOT more of us need to have these conversations with ourselves about food. It can help solve emotional eating or feeling guilty for having our favorite foods or punishing ourselves with exercise for indulging.
"Consistency is key"
I didn’t change all these behaviors overnight but over a 5-6 month period I did and I became a different person. Someone who was free to workout because it was a behavior that could serve me for the rest of my life. It was no longer a punishment of sorts so that I could eat whatever I wanted without caring about my nutrition. I started to become someone who ate to fuel their body but to enjoy food at the same time. Someone who sat less and moved more. I watched less TV, enjoyed more outdoor activities and was more present with myself, feelings and thoughts than ever. Some weeks I nail my workouts and nutrition and other weeks I am just doing what serves me best at that moment in time. What is constant in my life now is, consistency. I know I am in this for a lifetime, working out, moving more and learning to eat better. I changed my behavior towards those ideas and helped them work for me, not me work for them. I want you all to be as prepared as possible to take on any behavior changes. Below I have a readiness to change checklist that I have used with some of my private clients. The questions are straightforward and to the point. You answer yes or no right away and then you can build on steps of how you will foster this new behavior change.
Readiness to change Questionnaire (Answer yes or no only)
Even when you don’t feel like you are in the driver's seat remember this, it's you and only you driving yourself forward. Society these days likes to throw blame on others for our actions or reasons why we are the way we are. Stop that negative, self limiting behavior and realize you are in control. As I say, you are your own hero!!
Any thoughts? Questions? Drop them below or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more personal in depth questions. I am here to Empower U!
I am glad you are here. My name is Susan and here you can learn all the things about fitness, health and things inbetween!