Just by clicking through to this post you’ve already shown yourself one thing: you’re interested in your own health and wellbeing. You wouldn’t spend your valuable time on this page if you didn’t feel that your health is important to you. That’s a pretty good start but finding and keeping motivation levels can be challenging.
This is why I think it’s vital to figure the “Why”. Why would you’d like to prioritize your health? The reason will help you define your goal and it will become what keeps you going when it gets rough. In my last post on regaining health, I spoke about my own process and how I’ve broken it into bite-size pieces that are manageable.
I previously mentioned that for me, fitting into a dress or looking a certain way was never enough motivation. For some people, that is enough of a reason to change their lifestyles or habits- not everyone is wired the same way. For me, it only became a priority I when wasn’t feeling good anymore. If you’d like to read what I had to say about this in my last post on How I regained my Health and How I’m Maintaining It, here’s a little bit;
“Personal trainers and fitness coaches call them goals. Psychology circles call it motivation. Yogis refer to intention. For me, once the ‘why’ of trying to live a life filled with healthy choices clicked into place, it no longer became a struggle to eat better, eliminate stress and stay active. But it took a while to find the purpose.
So what’s my ‘why’? I got sick of feeling tired and sick all the time. It’s as simple as that. Most of my life I haven’t had the best relationship with myself and had quite low body confidence. This got me into a cycle of comfort eating and exercising as punishment or to fit into clothes.
I’m going use an example of one of the first dietary changes I made to make this point. I read somewhere that Khloe Kardashian cut dairy of out her diet when she started losing weight. She credited it as having made the biggest difference. Now I love cheese but if less dairy made Khloe Kardashian lose 5lbs, I thought I should try it. This decision was made purely out of vanity and wanting to be thinner.
I tried cutting down on dairy (not cutting it out completely) for about two weeks until it became second nature. I woke up one day and didn’t have the constant sinusitis I’d lived with for years. It was amazing to wake up and forget to reach for my nose spray because I didn’t need it to breathe. My skin looked clearer, my cellulite wasn’t as bad as normal and I’d lost 2kg’s in a month. Now, when I say no to dairy, it’s out of health, environmental concerns and compassion- not vanity. This ‘why’ is a sustainable purpose for me.”
If you haven’t found you’re own sustainable “Why”, I’ve put together some questions to ask yourself that may help. Grab a pen and paper and get ready to write in the most honest way possible, without judging yourself for anything. I firmly believe that going a little deeper and starting to communicate with yourself is imperative towards making healthy choices or changes. Perhaps only one of the answers will strike a chord with you, but that answer might be enough! You never know until you try.
1. WHY NOW?
Is there an event that’s set off your interest in this, like a battle with illness, the loss of a loved one or family member, a breakup, a milestone birthday? These are all very valid factors in wanting to make a change. Has this been a slow build up influenced by friends, social media or trends that you’ve noticed others in your life are actively following? These are equally valid too. Knowing this can help you figure out why health is becoming important to you now.
2. WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Ask yourself what will happen if it doesn’t work. If you don’t make changes to your eating habits and get active, will you be happy to live with the consequences?
3. IS YOUR IDEA OF A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE UNAPPEALING?
If the picture in your head of health is unattainable and not fun, you may be self-sabotaging in the first place. If you’ve never stuck to a workout plan because you dislike working out, figuring out what you dislike about it could help. Do you feel exhausted after and find yourself too tired to do anything productive that day, instead of feeling energised? Maybe your workouts were too long for your current levels of energy or fitness. Many people take on too much too soon when getting fit and a gentler approach of building strength could be beneficial. Do you think balanced meals are boring or limiting? Finding versions of the foods you love that are nutritious could leave you surprised by your options. You can only find the solution when you’ve identified the problem.
4. ARE YOU WILLING TO CHANGE HABITS?
By answering the question above, you can find areas of improvement and start to slowly make things you disliked, enjoyable. If you realise that a gym membership has never worked for you because you need accountability, find a workout buddy and schedule joint sessions. Friends at a higher fitness level than your current level are ideal, as they challenge you to go a little further than you think you can. If you don’t have the cash for a gym membership, look into bodyweight training or workouts you can do outdoors for free – there are thousands of YouTube channels and Instagram accounts with wellness or fitness content to get you started. Focus on ditching excuses and consistently changing behaviour day by day.
5. WHAT’S THE REWARD IF YOU SUCCEED?
If you could imagine the life you want to lead, what would it be like? Would it include improved energy, waking without feeling tired, a strong body, a happy digestive system, clearer skin, more confidence and gratitude towards yourself? And will the answers above help you make small adjustments, little-by-little until you get to that life? I always wanted to be the type of girl who hiked and went to yoga classes- could be little more adventurous – and yet every weekend I was going to the same places instead of getting out there. Write down what you want, to remind yourself during the process. It helped for me.
Are these answers enough for you? Bear in mind that like everything life, you can’t assume that this journey will be linear. Keep these answers on hand when things get tough or you aren’t seeing the results you wanted. Write down a set of goals, starting with ones that seem the most achievable. For instance
- I will be in bed by 10pm to get 8 hours sleep and stick to that sleep schedule no matter what day of the week.
- I will increase my daily fruit and veg servings to 5 day
- I will have 4 homemade lunches and 4 homemade dinners this week
- I will substitute whole food or grains options in place of refined white flour foods.
- I will do 2 HIIT bodyweight workouts and take 3 thirty minute walks this week
Keep it simple at first and add new habits to focus on once you have the first set of goals on lockdown. Next in the Regaining Health series, I’ll be talking about the role of our relationship with food and how it can help and hinder our wellness.