Your Health Journey: Past, Future & Present
It isn’t a secret that people want to feel good physically and mentally. Some will even wish for feeling GREAT! Less pain and more joy is a goal for most. What is stopping us from getting there?
Making changes towards eating, moving and living better can be confusing and overwhelming. Sometimes just keeping the "status quo” is the more comfortable option. Change can be uncomfortable and even downright SCARY! Why rock the boat?
Usually, something needs to tip over the boat for changes to be initiated. Maybe a comment about losing weight from your doctor or a health scare involving you or a loved one? Perhaps it is a little more subtle such as not having the energy to keep up with your kids or looking in the mirror and not recognizing the face and/or body being reflected back at you? Maybe you just haven’t been feeling great and want to do something about it?
The initial thought may be that you need to eat better. That is absolutely a great start but how do you start? Start a popular diet that seems to be working for “everybody”? Again, great initiative but how do you make these lifestyle changes stick for YOU?
I believe being guided on what to eat is only the tip of the iceberg. For me as a wellness coach, understanding the past, present, and future of a person is the key to viewing the large part of the iceberg located under the water.
The past is a significant influence on how we approach our health.
When it comes to our eating habits, the “what, when, why and how” you eat is influenced by past experiences. We often don’t put much thought into what we eat day by day but use past experiences and routines to determine our daily food intake.
We have nourishment called comfort foods. Usually, comfort food is not particularly healthy but makes us feel good or at least makes us feel better for a while. Why does eating your mom’s homemade mac and cheese make you feel better? Does it bring back memories? Can you escape doing the project at work by reverting back to childhood? Well maybe for an hour or two.
We also had (and often still have) tremendous pressure around eating from family and friends. Who can pass up a piece of birthday cake at a party? Did you have a grandmother who guilted you into eating every bit of food on your plate or parents who made you sit at the table until every last pea was eaten? Is dessert a reward for eating dinner?
Triggers from the past can also spark certain eating behaviors. Maybe as a kid, you got ice cream on hot summer nights…..what do you now crave years later on warm summer nights? We want that kid summer night feeling back!
Eating habits, good and bad, come from our past experiences. Fear often comes in with the thought of having to give up the Friday night pizza night you have stuck to religiously since you were able to eat pizza or NOT eating popcorn at a movie.
The bottom line is to know your past and recognize how your history is influencing what, when, why and how you are eating now.
Do you have goals and intentions for the future and how can you reach them? My advice here is to make it about YOU! What TRULY motivates YOU? The more personal the goal is, the more likely you will stick with the plan.
Break it down by asking the 5 “Whys”
I want to lose weight
Why do you want to lose weight? I want to have a smaller waist. Why do you want a smaller waist? I want to fit into my fav jeans. Why is fitting into your fav jeans important? I felt good when I fit into those jeans. Why is it important for you to feel good? Why?
Really figure out why you want a particular goal.
We all know that we each only have one body and taking care of it is very important. However, we aren’t always kind to our bodies. What are your reasons for wanting to be healthy or lose weight or move more and without pain? Knowing your “Whys” may give you more reason to put taking care of your health higher on your list of essential things to do.
What about all that conflicting information out there right now? Or maybe you don’t even have time to read about the latest and greatest health advice? There are so many ways of eating, working out and practices to bring our mental state in balance.
Our lives are hectic and although we all want the best, most effective way to reach our goals, let's be honest, the perceived quickest can also be attractive. We may try something a friend had success with and get some good results but then fall off the program or hear about something even better and jump over to that. For most, frustration occurs during the process. Besides, how can we possibly make all those changes we “SHOULD” be making when we are all just too busy and exhausted to cook a healthy meal every night never mind take into account all the different philosophies and create a significant overhaul?
Here are some quick tips to help:
#1 Change “Should” to “Could”
We all seem to have many “I should”s depending on what we read and hear and ultimately what we believe after digesting all the information….. I should eat more fruits and vegetables, I should eat no fruit, I should eat no grains, I should eat more grains, I should exercise more, I should exercise less, I should drink 8 glasses of water each day and countless others. We can even get caught up in what is working for others. Your best friend is mediating 30 minutes a day, and you can barely find time to sit down for 2 minutes. Feeling bad about not hitting all the “I shoulds” can actually make your mental state worse and sabotage your desire to make changes.
Try this….. say out loud, “I should eat better”. How does that make you feel? How does your body feel? Mind’s reaction to it?
Now say, “I could eat better”. Does that feel different? Takes some pressure off?
#2 Take a deep breath and keep it simple
What can you do? Celebrate what you are doing right and build on it. Are you drinking 3 cups of water a day? Great! Now can you drink 4 cups for 2 weeks? Success? Up it to 5 or even 7. Unsuccessful at drinking 4? Try again or try something different and revisit that goal later. Small achievements add up.
#3 Find support
Enlist a friend who is practicing some good habits. Ask him/her secrets. Just keep in mind that a person’s practices may not work precisely for you and may need to be tweaked. Please know there is no right answer for everyone. There is no best exercise or best diet or the best way to balance your mental state. We are all unique and finding what works for you and what you will stick with matters the most. Own your Own Health.
Read, read, read….Gain the knowledge and make what you believe are needed changes. My knowledge journey started when my mother passed away from cancer 14 years ago at the age of 61. At that point, I was a vegetarian and ran 3 miles maybe 3 times a week. I was in pretty good health, but I wanted to make sure I did all I could to avoid my mother’s fate. From that point forward I read and read and read anything I could get my hands on about health. I was still confused about all the conflicting information, so I got a health coaching certification and eventually another Sports and Fitness nutrition certification. Experiment with what you are learning, and if you can make changes and stay on track independently, that is great.
Hire a coach. Who uses coaches? People wanting to improve some area of their lives…basketball, soccer, health… a guiding hand is always helpful if done positively. Accountability is key.
Make sure you pick someone who supports you in a style that works for you. My first session with a client is free. I want to be sure we are a good fit before starting. I have my guidelines for clients I want to work with, and you should have guidelines for coaches or other health practitioners as well.
#4 And most importantly, be kind to yourself.
There is no quick fix for better health. It takes time and patience and many, many baby steps. And know that you own the process, you can have guidance (don’t we all need advice in some areas of our lives?) but ultimately the food you put in your mouth, the exercise or lack of and the mental health practices are all up to you to execute.
But know you are very much worth it!