Maybe you feel like you’ve tried a million different approaches to improve your health and well-being. You’ve done low carb, high carb, low-fat, high fat, Atkins, Zone, or a few other what’s hot now diet approaches.
Same goes with your training. You’ve been bouncing from one program to the next, from one approach to another, never really committing to one thing in particular, just sort of sticking your toe in the cold water here and there.
You might make some initial progress but then things stall, you get frustrated and try something new. Maybe things are going great but the lifestyle you’ve chosen is just to hard to maintain. It gets to difficult and you quit.
In order to make permanent health and wellness changes you have to embrace a lifestyle that is realistic for YOU. I have my own biases with training and nutrition and they definitely show on this site but I also highly emphasize that people should open their eyes, pay attention, and embrace what works for them and their lifestyle.
This post is dedicated to why some people are successful and why others are not.
How to make changes in our life that embrace healthier living that emphasizes health from the inside out.
Feel free to disagree and either way I would love to hear about your own stories in the comments or via email. I’m personally always interested in those that achieve great things going against the grain. It’s fricking inspiring man!
You’re super stoked to start but view your changes as short-term solutions
The problem One of my favorite books in the world is Switch by Dan and Chip Heath (The Heath brothers). Those of you that frequent the site know that my nutritional background has a lot to do with the principles John Berardi and precision nutrition talk about. Both speak a lot about the psychological aspects of creating change in our lives. John in particular with regards to health and wellness.
Most of us probably fall into this trap. We get super motivated to make some change, probably even TOO excited. You expect for things to happen immediately and when they don’t you get frustrated. The plan gets scrapped after 2 weeks, a month or two if you’re lucky and it’s on to the next thing. The process occurs over and over. We rinse and repeat. Maybe making small progress but never really staying with it to see any longer term progress.
Fix it You have the opportunity to start fixing your health right now! Simply by making better choices. Water over soda, garden salads over dinner rolls, a simple walk over watching TV. However, visual changes might take longer than a month. Probably longer than 3 months, heck, it might take years. Admit that this is going to be a long-term commitment. One that is dedicated to producing results down the road that will be able to be maintained easily for quite sometime. Do this and then move on.
Start with where you are right now. Where is you health and fitness right now? What do you currently know about living a healthier lifestyle? Take a pen and paper and define it. Where are you in terms of your knowledge of nutrition? What do you know when it comes to exercise? Get more specific if you have to. I can do __________ push-ups. I can run a mile in ___________ amount of time. Now think about where you want to be. I want to be able to squat ____________ . I want to be able to
Does living healthier require extreme change?
The problem You think changing your health requires EXTREME change. You tell yourself you have to wake up tomorrow and run 5 miles, spend an hour in the gym, and eat chicken and broccoli all day long.
Ok, maybe I went way extreme there but you get it.
Fix it Going balls to the wall and jumping all in works for some (see cold shower). This is where you need to know yourself. Ask yourself, seriously, ask yourself who you are. Are you an ALL-IN person or not. Most of us are not so small tweaks here and there make for major sustainable ones long-term. Matt Frazier over at No-Meat Athlete wrote a great article about how he begun changing his life one habit at a time.
It then is all about what specifically can you do right NOW that will get you one step, one toe, one toe nail closer t living a healthier lifestyle. Maybe a five-minute walk, maybe switching from sandwich breads to lettuce wraps, maybe going to bed a half hour earlier so that you have more energy the next day. Just pick one and own it. Once you own it, move on to another. For example, if you are trying to improve your nutrition pick one thing you already know you need to improve on. Maybe you are drinking a caramel machiatto every morning from Starbucks as a sweet pick me up (224 calories, 35g sugar in 16oz.). An easy swap would be a tall Americano. You’ll cut the calories drastically and still get a little pick me up. You would make this the only change for one week. after mastering it and getting locked in you can move on a create change with another habit you know needs fixing.
You’re a product of you environment
The problem You’re culture, ethnic background, location where you live, and lifestyle cultivate bad habits and an unhealthy lifestyle. Maybe your ethnic background emphasizes high sugar and starchy foods or eating large portions. Did you grow up in a household where money was tight so food choices were very limited? Do you live in a city where being obese is “the norm?” Are most of your friends inactive, work long hours, and totally stressed? It’s hard to break through the mess when that’s what you are surrounded by and all you’ve ever known.
The Fix Don’t be afraid to live unconventionally. Just because the majority is doing something doesn’t make it right. Remember, the world was flat until someone came along that challenged the idea. Start educating yourself and finding out what works for you. Challenge everything! Even what you read here. Just because I say ancestral (paleo) eating is the way to go maybe you’ll have success following another route. I like to lift heavy weights and run really fast. Maybe that just doesn’t get the job done for you. YOU like to box, run 10K’s, and practice bodyweight movements.
If all your friends and family are more of the sedentary time invite them to tag along on some trail runs or park workouts with you. Maybe invite them to a crossfit class or yoga studio. If they say no, then screw it! Go anyway, make some new friends and spend some quality time with people who emphasize the same goals that you currently have. Chances are when your friends and family see your progress they’ll start to come around.
The point is to get THINKING! Just because you have always done something one way does not mean you have to stay with it. Don’t be afraid to shake things up a little. Educate yourself, take action, rinse and repeat!
You totally doubt yourself
The problem No time, energy, resources, stress, understanding, ability, confidence, patience, or support. Some of these are excuses and some of them legitimate problems. We all have different circumstances so to lump everyone into one big ball would be crazy. Making big changes that will improve your health and well-being will be hard. No doubt about it. But don’t under-estimate what you are capable of.
The fix Focus on what you already know. Ask yourself a few simple questions first. Be honest with yourself. Do you eat really well but need to be more active or learn how to lift weights? Are you already working out but eating like crap? Maybe you are doing both but sleeping four hours per night. Ask yourself what you need to improve on, what you already understand, and what is something right now that you can put into action.
1. Do I need to get more sleep? yes/no
2. Do I need to get outside more? yes/no
3. Do I eat too much processed food? yes/no
4. To I need to be more active? yes/no
5. Do I need to reduce stress? yes/no
6. Do I need to have more fun!? yes/no
Once you have decided what you need to work on ask yourself if you know what to do. If not, start educating yourself. If you do already know, see below
You already know what to do but you are not doing it
The problem You tell yourself you know what to do but yet you’re not doing it. Your goal is to add 15 pounds of muscle but you’re eating twigs and berries and running half marathons everyday. You want to drop a couple of dress sizes but your breakfast is a venti choca-loca-macha (this is not a real drink) from Starbucks and a donut.
The fix Become aware of what you are doing. Pay attention to how you feel when you eat. Do certain foods make you feel good and others not so much? Keep a journal in which you write these things down. Keep eating the foods that do you justice and eliminate those that do not. You’re always skipping your Wednesday workout after work because of late meetings, stress, or something else. Start scheduling it for the morning and get’er done! You’re eating all the right foods but not dropping the pounds. Maybe you’re eating too much, not enough, or having a crazy full on cheat weekend. Just start thinking. Ask yourself if you can replace this bread with lettuce wraps, instead of going on a walk today maybe I can run.
You have to be perfect
The problem You expect perfection and little mishap sinks your battle ship
The fix One big thing I learned from my time at Precision Nutrition was that eating bad food is not dumb. It solves a problem. The problem is you’re hungry so you solve it by eating. The process now is just becoming aware, prepared, and excited to make better choices. Same goes for exercise. Skipping a workout is not the end of the world. Take it with a grain of salt, how can you can you be better prepared next time so as to not miss out, or think if there are alternatives to that days plan.
Hiccups will come and go. Over the long haul if you maintain consistency results will follow.
What are some other problems you are running into when trying to adapt to a healthier lifestyle?
Where am I completely wrong here? Where do I get it right?