I think this is probably the most difficult part of many people’s health journey and the most frequent question I am asked. It’s not a simple fix and it takes time, effort and making it part of your daily routine. Everyone’s lives are different--different challenges to their schedule, preferences with their workouts, limitations with their diet, etc. One truth remains the same, the benefits of frequent exercise and a healthy diet are worth overcoming whatever limitations and challenges that stand in your (Ok, there was the tough love, but keep reading.....I get nicer). I won't ever be able to make a change FOR you, but maybe something you read or see can equip you to make it for yourself :)
It’s what I try to instill in the kiddos I teach day in and day out. It doesn’t have to be P90X, weight training, marathons, or hot yoga--- it can be cycling, tennis, hiking, swimming, rec soccer leagues or underwater basket weaving! Finding something you enjoy enough that it’s not the first thing to get cut from your schedule when life interrupts and get busy.
Here is a short list of advice I would give to anyone looking to make a change (whether you’re starting for the first time, fifteenth time, or a seasoned athlete):
1. Start Small
Don’t commit to a 5-day per week workout plan, throw away all the processed foods in your pantry, swear off everything but chicken and vegetables, and sign up for a half-marathon in a frustrated frenzy that summer is upon us. Add one thing in at a time--whether it’s 30 minutes of cardio three times a week, eliminating soda from your diet, signing up for a race, adding weights to your current routine, mastering push-ups, cooking at home five days a week instead of eating out, saying “no” to fried foods, etc. I think healthy living is a process and like anything, the more confidence you have that you can be successful, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it! Once something has become part of your routine and you don’t have to consciously make that decision--add in another.
2. Treat Yourself
It won’t be easy--the good intentions will remain, but the willpower might fade. This is when you need to have something to keep you incentivised. It could be a friend who you know will go to the gym with you if you text them needing a boost, a pedicure after the 5k you’ve been training for, a pair of lululemon shorts once you’ve dropped 10 lbs, whatever does the trick for you! (I’m on the lulu train--it’s my treat for running a marathon and each pair reminds me of a specific race. Sentimental, right?!)
Why are you interested in making the change(s)? I can promise you that it’s been a long time since I cared about being a certain size, weighing a certain number (don’t own a scale...the doctor’s office once every three years is enough for me), or anything like that. I think those can be distorted goals to have and don’t really sustain motivation well. Learn to think big-picture. Instead of fitting into that pair of jeans, or looking a certain for this swimsuit season, or those upcoming family pictures….think about your LIFE. I’ve thought about mine and I want to be an example to my family (present and future) of health, activity and seized opportunities. I hope my kids know the joys of daily endorphins, competition and vegetables! I don’t ever want them to think waking up and going to the gym in the mornings before school is a drudgery that I do to look a certain way--I truly crave a good sweat and the accomplishment of starting a day that way. You may never get to that point (I admit, I’m wired a little differently), but to see exercise as a gift and wanting to explore it instead of plow through it as the worst part of your day could be a game-changer.
3. Spread the Love
Let people in on your goals--it keeps you accountable and could benefit them in return! Some of my best friends from college (looking at you Melly and Brittany), have been going through the same workout in two different states and one different country in an effort to encourage each other and stick with it. We send hilarious post-workout selfies and reminders to get it done! It’s easy to rationalize with yourself why it won’t matter if you skip your run or drink the soda, but when someone knows you are trying to accomplish something, they’ll remind you real quick ;) Recently, I have started a little program with my Mom, sister and sister-in-law. We have a group text, are tracking macros and sharing workouts. It’s so fun to encourage the people you care about to make changes.