Leading a healthy life – WHY would you?
I was recently asked how I managed to fit exercise into my busy life. It got me thinking about my personal wellness journey over the last year, in particular: what I had achieved and how. Before I get into that, I would like share my belief that everyone’s journey is different – we all have different goals, different bodies, different starting points and different approaches. This is my journey. YOUR journey will be different. Plus, I am not perfect and do not at all claim to have this wellness thing sussed! But maybe you can take something from my approach or recognise an element of your own experience.
So, what do I regard as the results of the past year? 1) I lost 5 kg and have kept it off for over a year and 2) my fitness has improved and I now feel good when I exercise.
So, how did I do it?
The first step – and in my view the critical step – was addressing my nutrition. I always considered myself a healthy eater. In my teens, I played various sports competitively and whilst I had a good appetite, I tended to choose relatively nutritious foods, with very little processed. This was in the main due to how I was brought up. Meals at home were usually cooked from scratch, Mum homebaked treats like cakes and cookies, and takeaways were a rare treat saved for birthdays. I ate a lot but I ate well. However, as I went through my twenties and into my thirties, my exercise reduced as my work hours increased, I started to eat out more, have more takeaways, and more snacks in the evening at home. I was far from overweight but I was no longer eating so nutritiously.
Since then I have had two children, struggled to fit in regular exercise, and although our family meals were generally healthy, we were probably eating too much bread and pasta, and continued to snack in the evening once the boys were in bed, often whilst enjoying a glass of wine. It didn’t feel too bad. I felt I deserved those evening treats and was simply too tired to do much exercise. Consequently after child number two, I couldn’t shift the excess weight I gained during pregnancy. To be fair, I didn’t try very hard but that was the point – it seemed too hard and too low on the priority list.
Fast forward to November 2016 when I embarked on a 30 days to healthy living programme. Whilst I hoped to lose some weight and gain more energy, I have to be honest with you, these weren’t the primary reasons for me doing the programme. It was a programme that was launching in the December which I could promote through my business. I knew that to successfully share the programme and coach others through it, I had to have completed it myself. I had to do it 100%. That my was motivation the first time around. And boy, was I amazed at the impact those 30 Days had on my life. Within days I had more energy, I was sleeping better, and after 30 Days I was back to pre-pregnancy weight. I hadn’t increased my exercise, but by following the programme , changing my eating habits, and re-setting my body, I had all the benefits I hoped for and more! This was way better than I had anticipated.
I manage to stick to many of the programme’s principles most of the time after the 30 days – what we call an 80/20 regime – and the whole family is onboard too. As I mentioned, nutrition was the starting point, then came the fitness. Having lost 5 kg I found it easier to exercise, and started to really enjoy my (short distance) trail running. I had more energy, wasn’t lugging the extra weight, and got some good results when I competed.
In June 2017 I completed the 30 Days for a second time. I did it to feel better overall and keep myself on track, plus it was the middle of my trail running season and I wanted to perform at my best. So this time, my fitness was my motivation. And in October I completed it for a third time, as the treats had increased and I had put on a kilo. My motivation this time was losing weight and reducing the bloating. After a few weeks of indulgence, I felt sluggish and heavy.
Each time I undertake the 30 Days it gets easier, and now it doesn’t need to have a label – I can adjust my diet daily, I know exactly which foods make me feel bad, and which make me feel good. I just love that feeling! I have committed to increasing my trail running distance and I know for sure that my nutrition has a huge impact on my fitness – not only does it make me feel better physically, but the knock-on effect is that I want to exercise more and challenge myself physically. (And no, that’s not me in the photo below!)
So back to the main point of this …… on each of the three occasions I undertook the 30 Days programme, I had a clear reason Why I wanted to do it – my business, my fitness and my weight. And it was because I made a conscious and committed decision to follow the programme that I succeeded. And this is the point I wanted to make (I’ll get there eventually!) – anything you want to do in life is only possible if you commit to it. And to commit to something fully, you need to have a strong reason for doing it. When the times get tough, you have to revisit that strong reason, or Why, to spur you on and encourage you to stick with it.
So back to how I fit in my exercise….I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the last year and whilst I love a plan, I also know that I often try to fit too much into my days, and if I then don’t stick with my original plan, I feel quite uneasy. So, I have a goal with my fitness (yes, my Why), which is to compete in longer distance trail runs; and I have a strategy for getting there (comfortably train regularly at 2/3 the distance); but my plan is less defined (increase my distance by 1 km every 2 weeks, no fixed training days/sessions). I would love to exercise three times a week, but if I miss the odd session, so be it. I am not going to worry about it. As you can see, there’s nothing extreme about my plan, this is fairly (low) average fitness regime. But it’s realistic, I am comfortable with it, yet I believe I can reach my goal.
Establishing your Why and committing to it are critical to success. I’ve seen this play out in various aspects of my life. It’s been reinforced by what I have seen and read over the past year. And it doesn’t relate to just health and wellness. You can apply the same principle to anything you want to achieve in life.
Define your Goal, then define your Why, before you start on the How.