Want to Succeed at Adhering to a Healthy Lifestyle Long-Term?
As a holistic nutrition and performance coach, it is my role to support the client in his or her goals, both short term and long term. It’s my responsibility to understand their values, sensibilities and lifestyle to support in a way that is truly aligned to these. It’s also my role to impart a little reality check from time to time.
From years of experience within the health and fitness industry, it’s apparent that clients tend to focus on the failure or the moment(s) in the week in which they ‘derailed’ or ‘deviated’ from the plan. The focus on the negative tends to cast a shadow on the week, this shadow can rattle their confidence and esteem, leading to further poor choices.
This is what is called a bi-directional or a vicious cycle.
There is a tendency in all human to isolate the negative and focus on this. I’m sure you have experienced this in the context of social media. You post on Instagram and get 100 comments, 99 of them are positive and complimentary, yet one is not and it’s this negative comment that influences your mood more than the 99 positive ones. This is a biology imperative or mandate which is pre-programmed in all of us. It’s an evolutionary throwback to ensure we are liked by the tribe and don’t become an outliner. In this prehistoric context, it makes sense as it keeps us in-check and grounds us…the last thing we want is to be shunned by the tribe and outcast into the wilderness alone.
Given this paradigm is a pre-programmed biological mandate, it’s difficult to see past and I’m not suggesting that we ignore it. But context is king. I ask my clients to look at their week from a 40,000ft perspective and identify all the wins – so every time they adhered to the plan. This gives a much more balanced approach and suddenly the meal(s) or day(s) that weren’t spent adhering have less power to influence the mood or derail the client further. Have a holistic view of the week and acknowledging all the wins disables the power that the ‘negative’ can have over us.
And trust me there will be a truckload of wins peppered throughout the day and week.
Things like making the bed, drinking water, exercising, being mindful, eating well, getting restful sleep are all examples of wins….add those up and the bowl of ice-cream on a Wednesday night is a drop in the ocean.
So if you want to adhere to a healthy lifestyle long term here are some important points to acknowledge:
1. Be open to change
2. Accept it’s a marathon and not a sprint
3. Make small incremental changes over time
4. If you ‘deviate’ from the pan it does not mean it’s the end. Simply jump back on at the next opportunity
5. Use exercise as a mood elevator and to send a positive ripple through your day
6. Acknowledge the behaviour that doesn’t serve you
7. Interrupt poor behaviour with higher ground habits
8. Acknowledge the wins.
Number 8 in this list is powerful in maintaining a holistic and realistic balance. Don’t let the ice cream or apple turnover be the single thing that disables you and makes you throw in the towel. Put it up on your virtual whiteboard against on the wins and it’ll completely flip how you see your progress.
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