All or nothing…not a great mentality to have when you are opening a bag of potato chips and also not a great way to approach your health and fitness journey. If you read my last post (that was a shameful plug to go read my last post ) you know I believe that getting healthy and fit, like most things in life, should be approached with a sense of moderation. That is, I don’t think you should set crazy, unrealistic, unattainable goals for yourself when you are just starting out or push yourself to extremes once your fitness journey is under way. In fact, I recommend you do exactly the opposite!
This is my opinion when it comes to dieting as well as working out. I don’t believe in extremes, like fad diets that are so restrictive you end up miserable and two weeks into it you find yourself sitting in your car downing your third cheeseburger, large fry and chocolate milkshake. The same with your workouts…I don’t think that spending hours upon hours in the gym 7 days a week pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion and pain is a healthy way to achieve your goals either.
I do think though that most people would agree that being healthy and fit is something that is important and even something they would like for themselves if they don’t already have it. I also think that a lot of people, myself included, are hesitant or even unwilling to go after those things because they think they will never be able to get the body they truly want or the reach the health goals they may be aspiring to because the task in front of them is so daunting.
I think the trick here is not to focus so much on the end result because it can seem a long way off in the beginning, but instead to think about the first steps you need to take to in order to get on the right path toward that goal. I know right before I started on my own journey about a year ago there were a few moments of “is this really going to be worth it”, “will I ever really get to a point where I am happy with how I feel and look again?” In short, will the amount of effort I know I will have to put in be worth the reward?
Thinking back now to how I got over the initial hurdle of self-doubt and honestly laziness on my part was I set one, attainable, non-negotiable goal for myself and decided no matter what excuses I could come up with I was going to achieve it. In my case, the goal I set was to lose ten pounds. As soon as I set that goal though I did one more crucial thing that I think was the key actually dropping the weight. I made a plan about how I was going to get there. Now that plan has changed, morphed and taken a bit of trial and error since the early days but nonetheless there was a plan that I held myself to that was tangible and easy to follow.
I also think another reason I was successful in achieving that first goal was it was attainable. I set a goal for myself, to lose ten pounds, that I knew was realistic and that I could achieve with some pretty small but important lifestyle changes. I didn’t start my journey with the hopes that in two months’ time I would look like a Victoria Secret swim suit model or be a size zero with 6 pack abs. I wanted to be healthier and happier in my own skin and I knew that if I shifted my priorities a bit I could lose that ten pounds and hopefully feel and look better. Well I have since lost those ten pounds and haven’t looked back!
A couple ideas on how to set yourself up for success when it comes to fitness and healthy eating are:
- Find your “WHY” – Make this “why” simple, attainable and manageable. Set reasonable expectations of yourself so you have a good shot at reaching your goals. You will find once you have reached one or two you will be excited to set and attain more and before you know it you will be achieving things you may have never thought possible!
- Make a plan. – As I just talked about, this was a big one for me! Don’t just make a goal with no thought of how you are actually going to make it happen. Seriously think about the steps you need to take to get there. For instance, sit down with a planner or journal and map out what workouts you will be doing each day and when you can fit them in. Also, make a menu for the week then go shopping and have the food/ingredients on hand so you grab them on your way out the door to take for lunches or easily prepare when you get home after a long day at work.
- Adjust, don’t restrict. – Don’t go crazy and cut out all junk food or stop making plans with your friends and family so you can be in the gym every single day. The more restrictive you are, the more you cut out, the more you deny yourself the more you are going to want the very things you are denying. Ultimately uber-strict diets and crazy workout regimens tend to backfire because they just aren’t sustainable. Allow yourself to “cheat” once in a while and the likelihood of success in my opinion is much greater.
- Go easy on yourself. – Let your body guide you. If you listen, it will tell you exactly what it needs and when it needs it. When it says I want to workout, push yourself. When it is giving you signals that it needs a break, take a day or two off. I wholeheartedly believe in pushing yourself past your comfort zone and even past some uncomfortableness. Pushing past actual pain however is not always a great idea. Just trust your instincts and listen to your body…it will never steer you wrong!
Setting yourself up for success when you are just starting out or even if you are pretty far along on your health and fitness journey is so important and potentially can make the difference in whether you succeed in reaching your goals or not. Set reasonable and attainable goals in the beginning, crush those and then set some more. Give yourself every chance to succeed in your quest to get healthy and the payoff will end up being greater than you probably can even imagine!