What is so hard about having a healthy lifestyle and sticking to it? Every day I see people battling with wanting to be fitter and healthier but finding that as soon as they have a night out or go on holiday it all falls apart. They are so determined to make changes as often they feel uncomfortable, sore or tired and don’t want it to get worse as they get older. So how can you harness that resolve and translate it into reality?
Breaking the cycle
One of two things tends to happen. Either you fly headlong into an extreme plan that will deliver results but is impossible to maintain beyond a couple of months or you take some action but carry on as normal for the rest of the time expecting huge results. Both lead to disappointment longer term and the possibility that you will feel even worse than you did at the outset as now you have failed! It can almost feel better to never really try than to go for it and fall flat. Surely there has to be a better way!
Work with yourself not against
I believe that we all have the capacity for transformation and that the key to success is to work WITH yourself not against. All too often we try too hard and expect too much too soon. We didn’t put the weight on or stop being so active in a matter of days so why would we expect it to come off rapidly? Our habits form over time and it takes even more time to change them. Habit is what takes over when you are tired or emotional or hungry or just not thinking. Changing habits is about anticipating all of these things and having a clear structure to follow. You have to have a way to overcome your default settings – a plan that is simple and easy to follow.
Getting support is key
We are told so often that we need to take time to focus on ourselves and that that is the key to feeling better. I would agree that we certainly need to slow down and to look after ourselves as well as everyone else. But it can be really hard to change things all by yourself. Think about the Mum trying to lose weight who still has to cook as normal for the rest of the family or going to the gym and trying to figure out what to do whilst everyone else seems to know exactly. Or going out running and feeling painfully self conscious about having to walk whilst sweating profusely or getting into the pool and being in everyone’s way. The list could go on.
The one thing that would make all the difference in every one of those situations is support. If the whole family is trying to eat more healthily you would be preparing one meal instead of having to cook multiple dishes and feeling deprived. Going to the gym, for a run or to the pool with a friend or trainer feels much less intimidating and doable. We need connection and a common purpose.
Being part of a Group
I saw this in action in my first Group Get Moving Plan. I was completely blown away at the support and community that developed in the WhatsApp group. They posted to say when they were doing training and then again when it was complete. They encouraged, congratulated and supported each other. Some needed help from others and some recognised the difference they could make by getting involved and joining the conversation. What was clear was that they made each other accountable and celebrated every step forward however small. We had a range of ages, fitness levels and diverse goals but they had a plan to follow and a common sense of purpose. Together they all made progress and took steps towards a healthier, fitter and happier lifestyle. Importantly they are continuing to do so.
I feel incredibly privileged to do something every day that encourages connection. In a world of smartphones and digital downloads we can very easily become isolated. Busy schedules and endless juggling of commitments can leave us all going through the motions. I listened to a podcast that was talking about the possibility of robots being company in the future as we become ever more isolated. That fills me with horror and seems a little sad. I know that the hour that I have with clients each week is often one of the only points in their week that is all about them. We work hard but they also tell me about their week and what is happening for them. We get rid of frustration, there have been tears and always lots of giggles. Sometimes it is about the chance to reset ready for the week ahead. Moving your body helps to process your thoughts and feelings. Connection adds meaning to that process.
Making Conscious Choices every day
What I hope I have shown you is that the way to make a healthier lifestyle a reality is to make it your way of life. It is not a short term plan nor does it involve you giving up your life. If you are serious about being active and independent into old age you have to work at it. It is about making conscious choices day in day out. You can still drink the wine and eat out but if you feel uncomfortable and want to lose weight then accept that that will take longer to get you there. I am a firm believer in 80/20 and that the best and most sustainable approach is to stay on track 80% of the time and then ease off for the other 20%. What I see an awful lot of though is 40/60 and that won’t deliver change. Setting short achievable goals is key. See it as a series of steps to the lifestyle that you want. Be clear about exactly what it is that you want too. Otherwise how will you ever know that you have got there?!!
I will always tell you that the place to start is to move more. I even made that the title of my first book! That advice is the same regardless of how fit you are. You could be aiming to do more steps in a day or starting a marathon plan. For either you need to move more.
Making the magic happen
Magic happens when you do. Your body starts to relax and your mind calms too. They start to work together. You become aware of the world around you and notice your surroundings. When you realise how good it makes you feel, you do more of it. I’m not talking here about the endorphins that so many of you will say that you don’t feel. More a sense of awareness of how moving re-balances and changes how you feel. I’ve certainly been handed my trainers and told to go and exercise. I know I need to work hard, sweat and get rid of my stress and frustration. I’m a nicer person when I do! I also know that I have so many ‘lightbulb’ moments and find clarity whilst out walking or ploughing up and down in the swimming pool.
Once you recognise the benefits of moving you then start to take better care of yourself. It could be trying to reduce stress, get more sleep or to improve your diet. One step leads to the next and you start to feel better. That is when you may well become passionate about sharing what you have discovered with everyone around you. You want them all to feel as good as you do. If only you could get them to understand! The reality is that we all have to feel it for ourselves and then we get it. My mission as ever is to get as many people as possible started on their journey and to see what they can achieve when they try.
What I want you to do now is to think about what you can do from today to move more. Do something that you love and that makes you feel good. Find some support and share the journey. I know that you will feel so much better and will surprise yourself along the way when you do. This is about living an active and healthy life not depriving or limiting yourself. You need to see for yourself that by moving more you gain so much more. That is what will drive you forwards and keep you going.
If you need some more help then you there are plenty more blog posts for you to read here. My book ‘Moving More – Finding your path to a stronger, healthier, happier you’ brings together my experience of working with clients over the last 8 years and gives you a clear system to follow. It is often the first steps that are the hardest. I have made it easy and simple to follow. Throughout the book you will find stories and tips from my clients to support your journey and to keep you motivated. You can buy your copy here.
Group Get Moving Plan
Those of you who would like more support and the accountability that comes from working in a group may be interested in my Group Get Moving Plan. I created this plan for those of you who want structure, accountability and support. The first group saw amazing results and many are now going through it again to take their results to the next level. I give you really clear instructions, videos to follow at home, weekly emails packed with support and advice with a WhatsApp group that gives daily access to both me and the rest of the group. You can do the whole plan remotely so you could be anywhere in the world or if you are in Ayrshire we have a Welcome meeting, Outdoor Bootcamps and a Celebration at the end too. The next plan starts on August 23rd and you can see more here. Spaces are limited so will fill up fast.
I hope that I have got you thinking about how you can move more and why it is vital that you do so right now. I wish I could make you see how much better you will feel and how much easier everything feels when you are fitter and full of energy. It really is a case of doing it and seeing for yourself. That is why so many people who have lost weight and got fitter are so keen to share their story and to encourage others to do the same! I would love to hear how you get on and what you thought of my book too.