This Doesn’t Suck; Getting Over the Healthy Habit Hump

You know what you should be doing to be healthier, right?  If you were told to eat better, exercise more, and get more rest, you wouldn’t be surprised; you’ve been hearing that your entire life!  Below is an excerpt a portion of Dan John’s most recent T-Nation article:

Someone recently asked me about “the secret to nutrition.” Seriously, you don’t know what to do about food? Here’s an idea: eat like an adult.

Stop eating fast food, stop eating kid’s cereal, knock it off with all the sweets and comfort foods, and ease up on the snacking. And don’t act like you don’t know this: eat more vegetables and fruits.

Really, how difficult is this? Stop with the whining. Stop with the excuses. Act like an adult and stop eating like a television commercial. Grow up.

(Yes, I found that article through Tony Gentilcore’s website, and I used the same quote he did.  It works for this, but read his post HERE.)  My point is, just telling you that you should be healthier isn’t going to do much, unless you want to be healthier.  Do you want to be healthier?

Dumb question; I know.  Of course you want to be healthier!  Whats stopping you?  It’s change.  Actually, it’s your resistance to change.  Even when you’ve set out to make healthier decisions in your life, your subconscious is still going to fight you on it.  You could try to fight through this, or you can take some measures to ease the transition so you can invest your energy into benefiting yourself.  Let’s review some simple tips that’ll keep you going strong.

Have a positive mindset.  It’s overly simple as well as a given.  You need to stay positive.  Healthy habits and behaviors aren’t tedious tasks that take the fun out of life; they are investments in your health and wellness, and allow you to enjoy the future with vigor and energy.  That made me sound a bit like a hippy, don’t you think?  How about this:

Your life doesn’t suck as much as you think.  Stop complaining about what hasn’t gone right, and make the changes necessary to be successful.  This applies to everything from eating breakfast in the morning to filing your taxes come April.  Pouring a bowl of cereal may be easier than heating up a pan, but those Frosted Flakes aren’t going to do nearly as much for you as those eggs you could be eating.  Don’t like losing money to taxes?  Make more money.  Earn a promotion, make more sales, impact more lives; whatever it is, you need to do more of it.  You control your life, nobody else does.  A positive attitude and internal locus of control will do more for you than anything else.

Commit to change, and hold yourself accountable.  Tell people about the changes you want to make; they’ll help hold you accountable, and you can do the same thing for you.  Bring a friend to the gym, so you can both push each other.  After your workout, grab food that will enhance the effects of your workout.  Don’t let your friend order crappy food, and expect them to hold you to the same standards.  The issue here is making sure that those around you are at the same level (or at a higher level) than you are.  This brings me to my next point:

Surround yourself with the people you want to be like.  It’s basic logic, but it applies to everything.  Want to be a world class composer?  Head the the best conservatory you can find.  How about a chemical engineer?  Intern in a big-name lab.  If you want to get lean, embrace those who are leaner than you, and if you want to bulk up, befriend the behemoths who weigh more than you.  They’ll inspire you, they’ll motivate you, and they’ll hold you to a higher standard.  That’s going to contribute to you reaching your goals and changing your life.

Do it every day.  Make changes that you can repeat on a daily basis, and include them on your schedule or calendar.  Scheduling these changes, and having multiple reminders of what you’re going to do, works very well.  Simple behaviors such as taking a multivitamin and fish oil when you wake up require very little effort, but can go a big way for setting you up for a day of healthy behavior.  When it comes to exercise, I like scheduling your workouts in advance, and putting them on your calendar.  In my case, I have my weekly schedule written on a whiteboard in my bedroom, and my Google calendar includes all of my workouts on it as well.  I make sure to include them at times before and after class or work, but I treat them as real events.  Considering them as written-in-stone commitments has been a fantastic tool, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I missed a workout.  My whiteboard, computer, and phone are constantly reminding me when I have to workout, and I think the same tools will work for you.

Repeating the same workout every day isn’t going to work, but including activity every day will.  If your goal is to eat healthier, try eating a salad with chicken/tuna/steak for lunch every day.  Boring, maybe, but you’ll be living healthier.  If you have trouble commiting to regular workouts, pick a single time, and workout at that time every day.  Maybe you strength train 3 days a week, go to yoga twice, and hit spinning classes twice.  The workouts vary, but if you’re doing this at the same time every day, you’re brain will eventually say “Alright, it’s 2pm, let me eat because I need to go to lift/spinning/yoga in an hour, and I can’t miss it.”  Your subconscious has inertia, and resists these new habits; you have to make them easier to ingrain as normal parts of your behavior.

Change is the only constant.  It’s cliche for a reason; because it works.  Making positive changes in your thoughts and behaviors can markedly change your own success and failures with living a healthier lifestyle.  You want to live better; I’m taking that as a given.  It’s the journey from point A to point B that’s difficult.  There are road blocks, detours, flat tires, and plenty of things that can go wrong along the way.  Despite all of that, you’ll get there if you go about doing things the right way.  Tell people where you’re going, but more importantly, tell yourself that you’ll get there.  On your way, travel with others.  Bring your friends along on your journey, and travel with people who have already made changes, and are going one step further.  (I suppose you can consider this ‘drafting’ in our road trip analogy.)  One of the best things to do on this voyage is to travel every single day.  Pick your destinations along the way, and make them.  Small changes, and the related success, will contribute to the large, overall changes, and sustainable success that you’ve made.

Ideally, you’ll be able to look back and say “Wow, that was easier than I thought.”  This could be losing 50lbs, or gaining 50lbs, or putting 50lbs on your deadlift or chin-up.  Small changes will lead to big success.  I’ll leave you with a throwback from the late 90’s.  When I first heard this I was 11, and it was just a voice and drum beat to me.  Now, I can listen to the words, and I’d suggest you try to as well.  Remember, this doesn’t suck; strive to make positive changes.

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