How many times have you gone to the mall to buy a new pair of jeans, a dress, or dare I say it, a bathing suit [gasp], hoping that this time you’ll be able to wear the latest designer or other fashions with confidence? And how many times have you cried in your car on the way home as a result?
You’re frustrated because for the past three months you’ve been gluten-free, dairy-free, no sugar, no processed foods, no carbs, no artificial flavors, with essentially no taste or enjoyment of your food whatsoever. It basically means your diet consists of ice cubes. You just don’t understand why you not only hate the way you look in the mirror, but why you generally hate your life.
What if your next trip to the mall was a success? What if you didn’t have to cry on the way home? What if instead you could sing at the top of your lungs, “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang?!
How does one do that, you ask? It’s simple. It’s all about the habits you develop and have in place.
Habits are the cornerstones of our everyday lives. They are part of what dictates our behaviors, beliefs, and values. It is important to develop habits that will allow you to not only achieve your health and fitness goals, but also to give you a sense of purpose and a higher quality of life. It is important that the habits you develop enable you to achieve your health and fitness goals, but it is even more important that you can sustain those very same habits for the rest of your life. Your habits must be unique to you as an individual—your goals, your personality, your schedule, etc.
If you are one who has continually gone to extremes in the achievement of your health and fitness goals, only to quit after a week or even a few months, over and over and over, then I want to challenge you to take a deep look at what habits you have in place and start asking yourself some hard questions.
During the next week I want to challenge you to take time to identify and write down all the habits related to your health and fitness that do not align with living a healthy lifestyle. Some of these habits might be:
Ø Not getting to bed at an appropriate time
Ø Not exercising regularly
Ø Not taking the time to plan and prepare healthy meals
Ø Not having snacks readily available during a hectic schedule
Ø Not drinking enough water
Ø Drinking sodas and Monster drinks (and the like)
Ø Indulging in sweets daily
Ø Indulging in alcohol daily
Ø Eating late at night, etc.
Once you have created your list, we first want to reach for the lowest-hanging fruit. This should be an easy habit for you to change, but still forces you to “stretch” outside of your comfort zone. This is important because what we’re doing here is allowing you to develop some credibility with yourself—proving to yourself that you can be successful by beginning this process with small positive changes. Target only 1–2 habits to change/develop the first week, then another 1–2 the week after, and so on. The objective is to “stack” these healthy habits over time to create a brand-new healthy lifestyle that is based in reality and is sustainable for you.
Here is an example of some of the habits I have in place. I am in my office every morning just before 5 a.m. That means my nighttime routine must be tight. Every night my wife and I head upstairs at 8 p.m. I get the clothes I’m wearing the next day picked out and laid out in the bathroom. I brush my teeth and take a shower. I go into my office and turn on sporting news or a game as background noise while I close out that day’s tasks that I planned for myself and plan and prepare for the next day. Finally, I head back into our bedroom where I read for 30 minutes until bedtime, and it’s lights out by 9:30 p.m. Lest I forget to mention that I’ve already set up all my breakfast and lunch items for the next day in the kitchen. When I wake up at 4 a.m. daily, I splash some water on my face, brush my teeth, throw on my work duds, grab my bag, head downstairs to get my breakfast together, throw my lunch meals into my bag, then I’m out the door by 4:40 a.m., and Bob’s your uncle.
This makes the start of my day less hectic, and I don’t have to use up decision-making power first thing in the morning because I’ve already prepared for the day by laying everything out the night before.
This practice of preparing for my day the night before also galvanizes me to take even more action during the day because I didn’t start my day with high-blood pressure and stress because I’m not running behind.
Another practice I have developed is the habit of planning my week in advance. I have a very full and set schedule of clients in-person as well as online so ensuring I get my own workouts in and have time for business development, writing, etc., is critical to my long-term success and peace of mind. I’ll get more into the habit and value of setting up your calendar in advance a week at a time in another article, but this gives you a taste of some of the things I’m doing that allow me to grow as a person and a professional.
Think about the habits you could develop today that will get you started down the path of feeling better about what you’re doing. Use the outline I provided above as a starting point. You’ll be surprised and grateful the next time you go to the mall. The only thing you’ll be crying about on the drive home from the mall is how much money you spent.
Remember, the satisfaction is not in the achievement of your health and fitness goals; it is in your personal journey toward achieving them.