This is the final post in my series where we went wrong with health and fitness. In the first I discussed food, the second exercise, and in this third and final piece I am going to talk about the mindset that goes behind it.
With all the talk about what to eat and how to workout I find myself asking, does body change and weight loss have even have anything to do with food and exercise?
Well, yes, yes it does. Eat too much of the wrong foods in the wrong amounts at the wrong times and you will gain weight. Moderate your food with healthy choices and you should be golden. Move more and exercise a few times a week. You know this right? The thing is, it is just not that easy.
Food and exercise is important but it in itself is not the solution. You find the solutions to your problems when you start to look at what gets in the way of these things.
It has to do with the ability to say no when you need to say no (don’t eat that extra cookie) and yes when you need to say yes (go workout instead of watching the Bachelor).
The problem is there are so many limiting factors competing against you making a simple concept extremely challenging and complex.
You know what to do, you just don’t do it.
Or you think you have to restrict foods and workout all the time and inevitably end up right back where you started like discussed in part one.
It’s not really about eating the perfect combo of foods, detoxes, diets, cleanses or food lists, it is about everything behind that from self control, emotions, habits behavioral patterns you have developed.
You never think to work on that stuff because that is never what you have been taught. I know I didn’t. For years I thought it all was about food and working out, food and working out. But it was a vicious cycle that kept me with tunnel vision unable to focus on anything else. In todays third and final post I decided to breakdown what matters besides eating and exercise.
Sleep & Stress Management.
We need to make good decisions more often and high stress and low sleep inhibit that.
Have you ever felt really sick one day from not sleeping enough the night before only to get a full night sleep and feel amazing? Point proven.
Have you ever had 2, too many martinis only to end up at Jack in the Box with a burger and fries? Lack of sleep shows similar effects on the brain as mild intoxication?
Have you ever had a hard day at work and walked straight to the fridge and snacked non stop from until bedtime? Stress could be the culprit.
If you can learn to focus on these two components alone you will be amazed at how much easier it is to make good choices when your heart is not racing and you are well rested.
Super simple solution:
A quick tip to help with high stress or falling asleep is this. Take 3 deep breaths. Inhale for a 4 count and exhale for a 4 count. These counts are not scientific as I made them up all on my own because the recommend inhale for 7, hold for some marathon of a time and exhale for 8, was just too much too soon. The point is to help slow your breathing to get into reaction mode.
Rely less on willpower and more on your changing your habits.
When willpower fails (which it will) your habits will take over, good or bad.
We think that willpower is the answer to our success and the more we use willpower (all our decision making through the day) the weaker it gets. Whether you are resisting candy at work or debating whether you should workout at 5 p.m., these decisions drain willpower.
No wonder we start off our days at our strongest and it slowly dwindles by the end of the day so we are snacking on jars of peanut butter at night. Oh wait, thats me. 😉
Basically using more and more self control lead to losing more self control.
Us humans love habits so it is no surprise that our eating and exercise habits are on auto drive and therefore determining the outcomes with our body. While these habits can be very difficult to break, they can be changed.
Super simple solution:
Find one thing that you can improve on. It does not even have to be a complete makeover of the habit. If you drink 2 sodas a day, cut back to one. Add veggies at one more meal a day. Do 10 push ups and 10 squats for every new episode you watch on Netflix. Don’t think I don’t know about those marathons?! 😉 The point is not a drastic overall but one simple improvement at a time. Work on it until it becomes so easy you don’t even think about it.
Consistency & Patience.
Boring alert! I know it is not nearly as exciting as doing a juice cleanse and seeing those first few pounds drop off the first day because you are putting your body in a state of restriction but consistency and patience is crucial to your physical and emotional well-being. The thing is when you do it right most people get frustrated because they do not see results right away and give up.
To do the work and keep going even when the it feels the results are invisible in the beginning. It feels unfair. It feels like all your hard work is not paying off. You have been doing everything right and are still not seeing results.
All your previous choices have gotten you to where you are today. You did not gain or lose weight, get stronger or more flexible by what you did last week, it is by the choices you have made and the habits you have developed over the past weeks, months and years.
If you can learn to exhibit patience as you consistently make good choices over time, not only will your body thank you but so will your brain.
Persistence, Persistence, Persistence.
I love consistency but I like persistency more, and you might learn to as well. Consistency is doing the work. Persistency is doing the work even when it is difficult. It is sticking with it even when things are not going your way. It is continuing to endure the hard stuff and build positive habits over a long period of time. It is learning to get comfy with the process of doing the work on good days and bad days.
Could you learn to embrace challenges and difficult and learn how to overwork not having enough time in the day and be presented with your greatest temptation and overcome them? Expect the challenges. Expect that things will not go right. Expect that this path will be tough and embrace it and learn from it when it is.
There is no super simple tool for persistence. What you do today and tomorrow and the next day will determine where you will be months and years down the road. Just like anything else though, you have to actually do the work to create change. You can and you will.