Mistakes are a natural part of learning your way through life. You make a mistake, you learn from it, and life keeps going. In the health industry, repetitive mistakes are extremely common. Fad diets, overtraining and under-recovery are some of the mistakes generally repeated over and over again despite the warning signs against them. Fitness should be more about health and less about appearance.
You need to listen to yourself, you are way smarter than you give yourself credit for! Your body will tell you when you don’t treat it right; high blood pressure, anxiety, skin irritations, fatigue, muscle soreness, aching joints, mood swings, hormonal changes, even depression are all signs that something needs to change.
Your body will tell you when you don’t treat it right.
It’s also important to listen to the people around you, I am not talking about nasty gossip and unconstructive criticism. Listen to the people that matter, they may be trying to warn you about your gradually increasing waistline or are they being pushed away because of your mood swings? Take a look at your relationships; do they paint a picture of health, happiness and success or are they warning you to make some changes?
What’s that old saying?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing all the time and expecting a different result.
This is often the hard part, you’ve taken a long hard look at yourself, your situation and your relationships. You’ve recognized what the warning signs are saying, and now you actually need to implement a change to make an improvement. You have to actually do something! Change is hard, it takes time and commitment, but it is well worth the fight, trust me! In a year from now you could be enjoying the benefits of change and improvement, instead of regretting not starting. There is no need to be afraid or discouraged, you are not alone: there is a large abundance of health professional’s available ready to help with quality information, guidance and support when you need it most.
I have certainly made enough mistakes for all of us in health and fitness. I’m hoping you can learn from my mistakes and fast track your success with less speed bumps and detours. Below are the top 3 lessons I can pass on. I could talk all day about programming, nutrition, psychology and all things health and fitness, but for the sake of keeping this article short, we will just look at my top 3 tips for a happier and healthier life.
- Find a program and stick to it! Reaching a fitness goal in a healthy way takes time. All good programs will start with a preparation phase; this could be developing foundational strength, movement patterns, a base level of cardiovascular fitness etc. It’s all about getting you ready for what’s to come by starting you off at an achievable and maintainable pace. But the problem is that we are so used to the fast pace of life that we are always looking for something ‘better’, harder or more complex and are too impatient to let a program work its wonders. If we haven’t lost 5Kg of fat, or gained 5Kg in muscle by the end of the first week, we get frustrated and move on. Give the program a chance! If you simply don’t like it or it’s unrealistic to fit into your lifestyle/work schedule then that’s a different issue. Part of finding the right program in the first place is assessing these issues. Don’t start one that you know is unrealistic. Decide what you want (goal set), have a rough idea of when you can train and then have a look around for a gym and/or online program that will meet your needs and COMMIT to it for at least 3 months. I use Human Movement’s online programming, It’s is the first program I’ve had that I love and is designed specifically for me and my needs.
Give the program a chance!
- Get off the hate wagon. So what if you ate 3 cream filled glazed donuts, it happened, accept it and move on. This was a big problem in my life and one I am still working on. I’d start a diet or eating plan and then fail at the first sign of a bad day (yes, I am an emotional eater, it is a daily struggle to stay on track). The key point there was ‘fail’, I viewed any deviation from my diet plan as failure and as an emotional eater that would send me on a downward spiral of lasagne and family sized blocks of chocolate. I’d spend the next month beating myself up until I finally got a wave of inspiration to try again. Enough is enough, eat plenty of good quality unprocessed food and don’t sweat if it goes wrong a little bit. As you get better at making healthy choices this will become easier and the bad foods will become less frequent. The goal is to be better every day, not perfect overnight. I like to read positive books and articles to help me keep my chin up, appreciate myself and remember what I’m working to achieve.
Eat plenty of good quality unprocessed food and don’t sweat if it goes wrong a little bit.
- Stop starving yourself! I get it, you want to lose weight and the internet told you to eat less than 1200 calories a day, or maybe it said high fats no carbs, or 80% protein, or nothing but lemon juice for a month… Whatever! Forget it. Start looking at it this way: Set your training goals and eat to sustain your training. Restricting your caloric intake can leave you tired, grumpy and prone to binges. Your brain needs carbs to function properly, not sugar or highly processed bread, carbs from nutritious sources like sweet potato, fruit, brown rice, quinoa, rye etc. It can take some time to fine tune your diet but in general you just want to eat regular meals made up of as much fresh food you can get your hands on, don’t let yourself get super hungry and enjoy your food. Don’t make food the enemy. I read myself into a carb fear over the past few years and after training hard with little to no results I finally decided to re-evaluate my diet. Tracking my daily intake has opened my eyes to how few carbs I have been eating, why I crash every couple of days and why my body took days to recover from an average training session. My Fitness Pal and a better understanding of how food affects the body (also how the body uses the food) has helped. I log my food just enough to keep my head in reality about how much I’m eating and what’s really in it. I have also changed my perspective… I have a great training program and I want to get all the results it has to offer so I need to eat to fuel my body and recover from training. It’s that simple!
Set your training goals and eat to sustain your training.
Like I said, applying these tips to begin with can appear intimidating. Perhaps have another read through, think about how you can apply them to your life in a realistic manner, and you’ll soon see it as a much healthier, maybe even less restrictive path to health, fitness and ultimately happiness.