The problem with health, fitness, and nutrition is that there is so much information out there that we don’t know what to do – so many of us don’t do much of anything. Popular opinion is constantly changing, new diet strategies come and go, and it seems that even science refutes and contradicts itself. Those of us that do try to improve our health tend to start strong and commit for a while, but we fail to sustain our efforts for the long-term. There are plenty of reasons that we revert back to our old ways. Maybe we chose one of the 10,000 diets that works for a while, but the effort, inconvenience, and extreme measures don’t enable us to sustain the diet and live a satisfying life. Maybe we workout hard, but get injured or become bored and exhausted. Maybe we didn’t get the quick results that we hoped for, so we simply gave up.
The Secret to Becoming (and Staying) Healthy & Fit
The secret is that there are no secrets. We need to stop looking for the magic diet, the “no pain and instant gain” workout, or even worse – the miracle pill.
The “secret” to health is smart choices (brain) and hard work (body).
But just because there are no shortcuts, it doesn’t mean that a healthy lifestyle has to be miserable. Balance is essential. My history with health and fitness is a varied one. I have gone through seasons where I have overweight and inactive, and I have gone through seasons where I was incredibly active and probably too thin.
In 2012 I published an article that talked about the journey that I went on from August 2011 to March 2012. In those seven months I lost 55 pounds!
Fast-forward two more years, to February of 2014, and I had gained some of the weight back. Over the last few months I have lost 15 pounds while gaining muscle, and I feel great. I still agree with the lessons that I shared in the article above, but I also feel like I have a more rounded perspective now (and I’ll probably feel that way again in another few years!).
How Do You Make Lasting Change?
Why did I put some of the weight back on? There are numerous reasons; but in the end I believe that one of the biggest assets to getting in shape and maintaining fitness (not just “losing weight”) is mindset. To make a lasting change you need to rethink, reprogram, and rehearse.
The way that you think determines the way that you live. So, how do you think about health, fitness, and nutrition? I have realized that I can’t think in terms of diets, appearances, or even specific goals (running a race, wearing size XX pants, losing XXlbs, etc). Those things are fine – very good even – but they don’t necessarily lead to living a healthy life for the long-haul.
Think about your health and fitness in terms of your life. Being healthy isn’t about looking better at the pool (although that’s a nice side benefit), rather it is about ensuring you have taken care of yourself so that you can live your life, do the things you want to do, and be around to enjoy time with your loved ones. In an absolute must-read article author, Joshua Becker, sums it up like this…
“The key, I believe, is to understand our physical bodies are the instruments through which we accomplish our unique purpose in this world.”
When you have the right mindset, you’ll have the right motivation, you’ll want to make the right choices, and you’ll get great results.
After you change the way you think, you have to reprogram the way you live. This is where it is easy to get stuck. I think I am like a lot of people – I tend to get all pumped about making changes, so I set out to overhaul everything at once. That’s simply not sustainable.
Doing too much, too soon, is setting yourself up for failure.
Face the facts. You are not where you want to be, and you can’t get where you want to be overnight – no matter how hard you try. Remember, we aren’t looking for a quick fix; we are looking for lasting change. Set yourself up for little victories that will boost confidence and build momentum. Start making better choices in the small things.
For example, commit to eliminating liquid calories by ditching soda, sports drinks, and sugary juices. Once you’re doing good with that, then determine how you can eat a more fulfilling, more nutritious breakfast. Once you’re eating a solid breakfast, then start looking at the ways you snack between meals. Then, on to the next thing.
Don’t be overwhelmed by a particular diet plan, specific macronutrient ratios, getting enough “superfoods”, or somehow choosing and religiously following a particular exercise philosophy. Don’t worry about burdening yourself with these things until you have done everything you instinctively know to do to get healthier. There will be a time to learn more, and consider doing more, but it isn’t now.
After you change the way you think – and have a process or reprogramming the way you live – you have to act. You have to commit. To rehearse is, “to say or do (something) several times in order to practice.” People tend to struggle in this stage of the process because they are too focused on the end goal, and not focused on the process itself. We all need to have specific results in mind, but don’t limit your definition of success to achieving a specific (often vain) goal.
Success is committing to and trusting the process.
Your goal is to commit to the process. Make good choices today, then make more tomorrow. Repetition brings results; it’s true of shooting your bow, it’s true of mastering any other skill, and it’s true of the process of becoming a healthier, fitter you.
How Can I Help?
I will be documenting more specifics about what I do from a nutritional and fitness perspective, but if you have any specific questions or topics that you think would be helpful for me to address, please let me know.
Just as important, I would love to learn from you, too. How have you made lasting change?