Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Achieve Lasting Success with Diet and Exercise

As I hammer out these words, it's year end and so everyone is once again mulling over their New Year's resolutions. For many, those resolutions will include a renewed focus on health. Many will want to lose weight. And given the obesity trends throughout the world, there is a lot of weight to be lost. For others, the goal may include becoming more fit, perhaps stronger or leaner. And others may just want to reshape their eating habits, or perhaps eliminate one or more negative aspects of their diet (caffeine, sugar, carbs, etc.). Unfortunately, if history repeats itself (and it will), nearly all of these enthusiastic resolutions will be lost to memory by March or April of the New Year. The new treadmills and the latest fad Ab-busters will be collecting dust or sitting idle in the corners of bonus rooms and spare bedrooms. And those new aerobics and yoga DVDs will be pushed to the back of the shelf. So what becomes of what was once very sincere enthusiasm about health and fitness? Why do we see these same trends every year? And why is it so very difficult to adopt a healthy lifestyle that is lasting? In this article, I’ll offer the benefit of my own experience with health and fitness, and I’ll include ideas to help you bring about lasting change in your own life. You don’t have to settle for less, and you don’t have to join the ranks of the majority that will once again make resolutions that inevitably fail. And perhaps best of all, you don’t have to be miserable along the journey. Read on and learn just how simple it can be to take a healthier path. You CAN do this. You CAN change.

If you want to adopt a more healthy lifestyle that is lasting, why wait until January 1? …or until the 1st of next month? …or until next Monday? Why not begin today? The idea of putting it off implies that you perceive it to be a negative or difficult experience. And the stronger that perception, the greater the chances you will either not begin at all, or quit soon after. And if your plan is so very harsh or punishing that you dread it that much, then perhaps you need to revisit the plan. It’s much better to adopt a less strict plan that you can live with, than to be over-the-top aggressive and give up after a month or two (or worse yet, never even begin).

Visualize the positive outcome that you desire for your body and your life. This is never easy when you first take on a change because you have yet to actually see or feel the results. But if you find ways to visualize those results, and if you are positive about your journey, then you will see and feel the results so much sooner, and your success will be sooner achieved and lasting. Be positive not only in your mental outlook, but in how you speak and carry yourself. Do not berate yourself or speak in negative ways about your body or your fitness. Instead, focus on the positive steps you are taking today. Write down your values, ideals, and objectives in a short list, and re-read it each morning. Make a vision board and fill with pictures that help you visualize the body and the life you want, then post it where you will see it every day.

Live in the present moment. Do not be miserable today, waiting on the weight loss or exercise results you anticipate for tomorrow. Your life is happening right now, and you will never have another today. Don’t set aside your moments in this day, waiting for the promise of tomorrow. It’s fine to look forward to a healthier you; that’s part of positive visualization discussed in step 2. But don’t miss all the joys and opportunities for happiness now, thinking that somehow the real joy awaits in the future when you are thinner or healthier. Embrace your own journey and know that you can be happy right now, and on every step of the journey to a thinner, healthier, and stronger you.

Diets. We’ve all been there, done that. How many diets must you experience before it occurs to you that perhaps diets just don’t work? There are many good reasons why they don’t work. Yet millions of people every year will enthusiastically embrace yet another diet, and nearly all will be unsuccessful (will not lose weight or become healthier, or will soon re-gain what was lost). This is not to suggest that all diets are bad. The idea of monitoring your food intake and making more healthy choices is most certainly very good. But adopting a punishing dietary restriction that by design is only a temporary detour from the very lifestyle that created the problem is almost certain to fail. Sooner or later, the diet will end. You’ll resume eating sugar, or carbs, or whatever it is that you were so bitterly deprived for the duration of your diet. And so what happens then? (you already know)

Exercise. Must we? Well… yes. But whether it’s a chore or a rewarding experience to which you look forward is really a matter of your perspective and your expectations. There are many benefits of exercise (stronger and leaner body, agility, stamina, and more). Exercise even prompts the release of chemicals in the brain that alleviate pain, improve memory, and even help prevent depression. Best of all, once you establish a pattern of exercise in your life, you actually look forward to the experience. Be creative and seek out new ways to exercise. Challenge yourself, but make it fun. Make sure your expectations are reasonable. Most of all, be consistent. Even during times you just don’t feel up to it, spend just a small amount of time doing something you enjoy, and you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel. Your body is the most amazing machine you’ll ever own, so don’t let another year pass by without reaching for all the wonderful potential inside of you.

Moderation. Whether it’s diet or exercise, moderation is essential. Do not try to adopt a plan that is so very strict or aggressive that it’s impossible to sustain. If you are miserable with your diet or exercise routine, then you’ll sooner than later return to the old habits. Be gentle with yourself, and remember that your objective is a new path, a new lifestyle, and so there is no time constraint. You may have set reasonable goals for weight loss or fitness levels, but in the end it’s just participation in the journey that is a measure of your success. The tortoise outran the hare because he just slowly proceeded on his path, without quitting. You will achieve your own optimal health, just as assuredly. And even better, you can smile and enjoy every step of the way.

Lean about foods and exercise. Knowledge is such a wonderful thing. And the more you know about foods, healthy eating, exercise, and healthy lifestyles, then the more you can apply that knowledge to further your own progress towards being the best you can be. The Internet is a wonderful resource. But of course, always be a bit of a skeptic with what you read. Check it against other sources. And keep asking “why” and “how”. Above all, just keep learning. You’ll find wonderful new foods to eat more healthy, great ideas and programs to enhance exercise or make it more fun, and countless other ways to enrich your life.

Scales are the enemy! Our bathroom scales are really not the enemy. But our attitude (or response) towards the scales are so very often self-destructive. How many times have you cautiously eased onto the scales, only to read a number that left you feeling horrible about yourself for the remainder of the day? Rather than toss the scales out the window, hang on to them and try a slightly different approach to how you use them. First, do not weigh every day. Weigh yourself no more often than once each week. And even so, remember that the long term trend is so much more important than whatever number you see today. Weight can fluctuate for a number of reasons on a day by day (or week by week) basis. Stay positive, remembering all the steps above, and just keep steadfast on your journey. The numbers will follow, sooner or later. In the mean time, don’t let those scales pull you from your path.

Are you a Compulsive Eater? Compulsive eating is a disorder, in much the same as many obsessive personality disorders. But when it comes to food, it’s a cruel and self-defeating disorder. Do you binge? Do you sometimes purge or induce vomiting? Are you preoccupied with body weight, to the point of being depressed? Do you eat even when you are not hungry? Do you hide what/when you eat? If you have tendencies that suggest you may suffer with compulsive eating, take the time to get informed and address the problem today. See the Resources section below for a wonderful resource that may change your life.

Why try again? What’s the point, even? Another diet? Another New Year's resolution? Another swing of the pendulum, a few steps forward, only to fall back again later. Why, you ask? Because your life doesn’t have to be this way. You can change. You don’t have to be yet another failure statistic. No matter how many times you’ve failed in years past, and no matter how many pounds you’ve lost and regained. By beginning today, and by starting with just the simple steps above, you can transform the journey of your own life. You can have the thin body in your mind’s eye. You can have the strength, the agility, and the grace for which you have longed. And perhaps best of all, you can enjoy a happy, hopeful, and purposeful existence along the journey to this wonderful new you.

Weightloss Enlightenment Copyright © 2012