Whether you made resolutions or not this New Year, now is the perfect time to review your progress so far in 2012. Facilitating the complexity of change in any arena can be difficult and frustrating, especially within your personal life. The ability to create positive, lasting change is valuable to many aspects of our lives, from personal health to organizational leadership. As a Personal Trainer at Geist Fitness, I receive daily questions about exercise modes and nutrition— The majority of my answers usually begin with, “It depends”. Realizing this, I began to think deeper about what this could mean and an overarching theme emerged; we must look at life through an unfiltered lens in order to reach our full potential. Here are 8 tips I have found helpful in creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle:
1. Surround yourself with positive people
“You are, or will become, the average of the five people you associate with the most.” – Brian Carruthers, renowned Life Coach
How true is this? I think about who those five people may be for me and it makes perfect sense. Across the broad spectrum of your weekly interactions, from family to co-workers, think about how closely your actions and values align with these associations. If you want to be healthier, spend more time with people who value their health. If you want to be happier, spend more time with people who have positive attitudes.
2. Find patterns that work for YOU
“Paralysis by Analysis”- This is what I often cite when someone thinks too much about what or how they should do something instead of taking action. If you discover a time that will consistently allow you to exercise, then exercise at that time—don’t worry about your “endocrine response to exercise” during that time or any other over-analyzed method. There is no “end-all” way to exercise or eat. Although research supports that certain trends are correlated with results, everyone responds to stimuli differently.
3. Think “Big Picture”
Patience is crucial in creating and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. For the general population, the concept of patience is two-fold. A person in the process of creating a healthier lifestyle may become frustrated when results don’t appear in the beginning, whereas a person maintaining a healthier lifestyle may encounter a plateau in their results. An effective way to address your doubts is to regularly remind yourself the reason you have chosen a healthy lifestyle. So your progress isn’t yet visible or has stalled— Quit your regimen and you will likely regress. Be patient and work for longevity.
4. Getting out of your comfort zone
This is something most people struggle with on a daily basis, myself included. While it sounds cliché, you really do “get what you put in.” If you want specific results, both the amount of work and type of work must reflect that. For example, I played football for twelve years and throughout college, where we basically ran “forty yards at a time” (a very slow forty yards in my case). I recently registered for a 12 mile race and know that I must build mileage by running longer distances. This is a realization I’m not thrilled about! If a person is to experience personal growth in any aspect of life, he or she must have an open mind.
5. Win the day
By focusing on small victories each day, we return to the concepts of patience and longevity. If a person gets just 1% better each day or each week, imagine how much that person will improve in a year. Choose to “win the day” and you will likely enjoy a less stressful daily life.
6. Have fun
Few people enjoy every second of exercise but most people enjoy the results. When possible, make your training regimen fun. Whether you are training with a group of friends or trying a new type of exercise, you are more likely to be consistent if it’s something enjoyable!
7. Be confident, be stubborn
These mindsets are the foundation of a successful lifestyle change. You are choosing to improve yourself, be confident. As my friends and family can attest to, I can be pretty stubborn at times. By channeling this seemingly negative attribute into a positive one, I have developed a regular training regimen. Tell yourself, “Nothing is going to interrupt my scheduled exercise today” and make it known to possible distractions.
8. Document goals and progress
Record your goals and place them somewhere you will see each day — let it serve as a daily reminder. Revisit your goals each month and evaluate your progress.
Becoming healthier in 2012 must be a lifestyle change. The process is just as much a psychological one as it is physical. Define your goals and relentlessly pursue them! I hope these 8 tips struck a chord with you and will help to facilitate the change you are seeking this New Year.