Getting there is half the fun…. riiiight?
Not always. But “being there”, as in achieving your goals, as in reaching success, couldn’t mean anything if it didn’t take effort or sacrifice to get there. You can never fully understand or appreciate what you have unless you’ve earned it. This applies to all aspects of life but my focus here is on health and fitness.
If you want to be fit, if you want to be healthy, to lose weight, to tone up, to just feel better… it takes time and effort to get there. Just like getting an education or moving up in your career, these goals aren’t achieved overnight. I think we can all agree that not seeing results is more discouraging than anything, but on the other hand, seeing progress is more encouraging than anything.
And here’s the good news… once you’ve reached your goal, maintenance is half the battle. You can add more calories into your day and have the occasional treat without feeling guilty or ruining all your hard work. You can live a balanced, healthy lifestyle without stressing out and feeling miserable. Who doesn’t want that?!
So, if you’ve found yourself in a place where your goals are far in the distance and you aren’t sure if or when you’ll never reach them, here is what I want you to do:
Decide right now (yes, right NOW) that you are going to give yourself the time to get there. It’s easy to change your habits for a week then fall off the wagon on the weekend, so I’m asking you to give yourself a month. The old caveat says, it takes 3 weeks to make a habit and just 3 days to break. If so, a Monday to Friday regimen will only set you up for another fall. The weekend can’t be your 48 hour “cheat day”.
To get started, set a monthly challenge for yourself. If Monday is a good starting point for you then start Monday, but my advice is to let go of the concept that things have to start on a Monday or at the first of a month. There is no time like the present! Here are some simple challenges to get you started:
1. Cut It Out
Pick something easy for your first challenge like cutting out one bad food. Maybe for you it’s no chips for 30 days. If you have some serious junk food habits to break, I guarantee that in one month, if you change nothing else, you will see results!
Your problem: There’s a party coming up this weekend and you just know you won’t be able to avoid the chips.
Your strategy: The body achieves what the mind believes. Yes, you can avoid those chips! I’m sure the host will have something else to snack on but if not, bring some crackers and hummus or a fruit tray to add to the food table. The host will appreciate it and I know others will enjoy it as well. It’s one month. You won’t die!
2. Bring in the Replacements
Replace one event in your daily routine with something better. You can replace a meal with a green smoothie (check out http://www.simplegreensmoothies.com for delicious smoothie recipe ideas) or sub your afternoon TV for a walk or run. Daytime TV is painful anyway!
Your problem: I’m too tired to exercise after work
Your solution: The best cure for tiredness is exercise! I swear! All you need to do is move your body to release stored energy and endorphins. Once you get going I promise you will feel better. No one ever said they felt worse after a workout (unless they were actually ill). No matter how I feel after my 40 min drive home from work I always feel 10 x better after my evening exercise 🙂
3. More is Better
Add in one good thing to your diet. How about 2 more servings of fruit and veggies throughout the day? Not only does eliminating crap do wonders for your body, but adding in more of the good stuff can actually reverse illnesses and dis-ease.
Your problem: I’m not hungry enough for extra fruit and veggies.
Your solution: Start slow. Try spreading out your fruit intake throughout the day with berries in your cereal or apple slices with your lunch. Instead of having 2 pieces of toast, have one slice with a banana. They have roughly the same calorie content but a banana packs WAY more nutrients and provides instant energy. The more fresh produce you eat the less processed crap you will need to feel full. In turn, you eat less overall.
Continue to remove the bad and incorporate the good and assess your results each month. Like I said, this health and wellness thing isn’t an overnight success. You will probably slip up a time or two but if you give yourself one month per goal, you are more likely to see results when you check-in vs. with a week-to-week assessment.
Now I would never give my friends the advice that I wouldn’t follow myself. After achieving some major success two years ago, I was beginning to undo my hard work with overeating and too many casual drinks. It was so discouraging to get out of bed every morning at 5 am to sweat my buns off and see no progress. But now I see that if I would have just given myself the time… the time away from vino and chocolate covered almonds, I would have found the results I was sweating for.
In mid-September I set my first monthly challenge. For the sake of documentation we will call it:
- October: Keep a food journal for one month.
I tried not to exceed my recommended daily calorie intake (even on the weekends). It was hard and I failed a few times BUT at the end of the month I felt great. I continued my monthly challenges and saw a little bit of progress each month.
- November: Cut out sweets at work.
- December: No-Drink-December. Consume no alcohol from Nov 24 – Dec 24.
- January: Try vegetarianism for one month.
- February: Lent begins. No sweets for 40 days!
- March: Lent ongoing. Add in Saturday workouts.
- April: Clean 30 Days Challenge (no sweets, dairy or eggs)
- May: Focus on whole foods
By June I was where I wanted to be and well on my way to my New Year’s resolution to become vegan. These months included several other challenges such as hot yoga and juicing which both became a big part of my life. I feel better now than I ever imagined I could 🙂
I am fully enjoying this summer without stressing about food or missed gym time. Of course I am still focused on my health and fitness but I am living more of a balanced life. I am so grateful to myself for taking the time to make it happen. Wouldn’t you rather sacrifice a little for one year to have many happy, healthy years come after? A little work now saves a lot of trouble later 🙂
You deserve it. Decide NOW!