Feeling discouraged? Defeated? Not in the “happy-healthy” place that you were when you first decided to change your health and change your life? Perhaps you are bored with your diet and workout, or you’re just feeling restricted. Maybe you have reached a plateau and over the last few weeks, you have not noticed any significant changes. Not going to lie. We say we are making all these dietary and workout changes for our health, and we are! But we still want to see results: toned muscles, loss of inches, and less weight. We look for it in our face when we brush our teeth in the mirror. We search for the extra room whenever we reach for a pair of pants. We keep trying on that dress hanging in the closet that still has the tags on it. Is that just me? Perhaps yours is the one from yester-year that you want to get back into. I won’t even ask how often some of the most eager find themselves jumping on a scale to see if there has been any change. And when the scale reads the same, the pants are just as snug, and the dress still can’t be worn, there looms over our heads a sense of defeat. Sometimes, that discouragement leads us back down a path to comforting junk food and a loss of motivation to keep working out.
You must know that you are already enough. You are doing amazing work in your life just by being on this amazing journey where you are exploring new options for yourself, often in ways that you never thought possible. As you recognize that change needs to be made on a regular basis, remember that you want to make lasting improvements on an already fantastic person: you! Progress is important, but they are add-on’s, not key parts. The goal is to enhance what you already have through progress. The fact that you went from zero workouts to two a week is progress; two to four per week is a step in the right direction. Removing iceberg lettuce from meals and adding spinach, romaine, and kale to your staple diet is a good decision. Being happier and healthier is not just about the physical aspects of life. It is about the mental and emotional stuff too. Healthy is NOT being physically fit but mentally miserable.
Looking for results? Try looking for different results! If you were once happy with your physical results but it’s recently affecting your attitude, you may have begun this process with a far too narrow view of what it means to be healthy. Let’s expand that view a bit and get some real perspective.
- Check your motivation. Are you making these changes to look and feel good for your next birthday or for your 40th birthday? Don’t be just another person that is jumping on a bandwagon of some sort. It’s important to decide if you are making substantial changes for a real reason or just a season. I get it. It is summer and you want to look fabulously toned and fit when you go play at the beach, but are you ready to prioritize your health year around? If so, then take your journey off the clock and off the scale. Stop comparing yourself to other people’s progress, feeling like you have to hit some life altering goal by a certain time. Permanent change is consistent and incremental.
- Get your blood work done. Weight and inches are not the only numbers that show results. Get your blood work done and find out more about your other numbers: cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure. Find out if these numbers have improved since your last check up; or use this visit as a benchmark to measure future success. These numbers are just as important, if not more important, than how much you have lost. They tell you how much you have gained with your health. Taking a more comprehensive look at your total body operation will give you a greater insight and a more accurate perspective of your health. Additionally, there could be a medical reason why your body is holding on to its weight and not responding to the changes you are making. Knowing is beautiful and helps you examine all the factors rather than putting yourself down.
- Train and complete a marathon for a good cause. Whether it’s a 5k or a triathlon, the key to marathon running/walking/biking is endurance. This is an opportunity to build stamina in ways that a traditional workout may not provide. So challenge yourself to a task that puts your endurance to the test. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish. Just finish! Choose a cause you deem worthy as it will help motivate you across the finish line. The sense of accomplishment is really rewarding when you take to task doing something you’ve never done or haven’t done in a while. It will also serve as a reminder that you are capable of more. You are stronger, and you are healthier than you were before. Those are real results! (Not feeling a marathon? Try hiking a mapped trail or climbing a rock wall. You can do it!)
- Change up your workout routine. Don’t get bored with a workout. Introduce your body to different exercises. It may be as simple as going from yoga to Pilates. Not sure where to start? Trust the knowledge of experts. Take a class or get a personal trainer who is certified in a particular type of workout. And if you have tried a little change, perhaps you are ready for a lot of change. Gyms like Curves and other popular workouts are designed on a circuit training model where you spend a short amount of time on a set of reps, then move on to another activity. That means you may be working your muscles in a different way to get more results.
- Stay active and engaged with your community. The real purpose of being “happier & healthier” is so that you can have the wealth of health and energy to live longer and do more in life. Take time to do things like that now. It can be as simple as having a dinner party with close friends where you can show off some of your favorite delicious (and nutritious) meals. Volunteer with a church or neighborhood group to deliver food to the elderly; or be a community team helper with a local kid’s weekend sports league.
What do you do to return to your “happy healthy” place when you feel like you’re getting stuck in a rut? How do you maintain the balance of a happy-healthy life?