While most of the people out there want to lose weight and get healthier, the common denominator is that basically all people want to do, is get into shape. I know the old adage that Round is also a shape. However we are not focusing on being round but being more shapely and fitting in to our clothes which are a decade older (I still have a few just to reassure myself that I have gone back 10 years back at least in the size department) .Another thing I realize is that when people get on to a healthy lifestyle to be healthy or fit it might at times serve a bigger purpose. However when they try to get back into shape along with being fit and healthy then the commitment level drastically increases by many folds. The ups-and-downs of my fitness efforts have highlighted some important points for me. Key among those points: don’t quit. If you mess up and stop for awhile it doesn’t mean you should quit altogether. Just keep going. You’ll get there eventually.
During this journey which hasn’t stopped and probably won’t ever stop, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
What follows are some of the more important truths I’ve learned, in the trenches, that I’d like to share with you. Take from them what you will — everyone will find different things that work for them but I am sharing some important ones which might be useful
Small steps: That you get fitter in stages as you exercise more is pretty obvious. You might start out by just walking but as you get fitter you might add some slow jogging to your routine. Then eventually you’re running three- five KM several stages later. However this really applies to everything including diet and many people don’t realize that. You shouldn’t try to change your entire diet overnight — do it in stages. Small steps, one thing at a time and you’ll get there. Just start eating more fruits at first. Then cut out the soft drinks and the junk food. Then eat more veggies for dinner. Then change your white bread to whole wheat bread. Then cut out sweets at work and so on. The thing is, you get used to each thing after awhile and so the changes don’t seem drastic. A year later when you look back you will be surprised how far you have come along and that is the time to pat yourself.
Find short-term rewards: Most people quit their diet or exercise program because they’re looking for immediate results. They’re discouraged when they don’t get them. You won’t get immediate results. — It takes months before you start to see the results you want … but in the meantime you have to look for other things to keep you going. Those shorter-term rewards could be simple things like the great feeling you get after a workout — that usually helps me stay motivated. You could give yourself a treat (something healthy preferably) or buy a book or something like that.
Enjoy yourself: This is extremely important. If you see your exercise as extremely difficult or painful, you won’t be able to sustain it for long. You’ll quit. If you see your diet as very restrictive or torture, you’ll go back to junk food in a short while. You must find exercise that you enjoy and find healthy foods that taste good to you. Maybe not chocolate cake good but good nevertheless. Experiment with new recipes (there are many) until you find ones you absolutely love. Above all enjoy the whole process. It’s what’s kept me doing it for so long.
Never ever give up: If you give up, you won’t get to your goal. Very obvious right, I know, but the problem is that people don’t put this into action. Messing up by falling back into junk food or stopping exercise all together — that happens. Life gets in the way. No one is perfect. Just forget about that stuff and move on. Learn from your failures. Adjust your plan to prevent the same thing from happening again and start again. If you stop, that’s OK — just start again. I always give a metaphor to my clients of a baby learning to walk and our parents never gave up on us walking in spite of failure at every step. Always start again. If you do that, there’s no way you won’t eventually get to your goal.
Vary your workouts: This helps keep things fresh and fun. For runners – don’t just do a run every day at the same pace. Vary the distance, the route and the speed. Do intervals. Do stuff other than running — go hiking, biking, play basketball, do strength training or even swim. Mixing it up will get you in even better shape, challenge your body in new ways and make it an enjoyable process. I always tend to mix up 3-4 different types of exercise in a week and would love to add a couple more to it – just to keep the creative juice flowing and make my workouts more interesting.
Focus: There are always a lot of things we want to accomplish, goals we want to focus on … but by spreading ourselves thin, we lose focus and energy. Focus on one thing at a time in order to really get it ingrained as a habit. For example, for one or two weeks focus on adding healthier food to your diet (and dropping some of the less healthy ones). After that week, it’ll be ingrained. The next few weeks, add walking or jogging or something like that and build on the focus. One goal at a time, one week at a time and you’ll get healthy. While I work with my clients I advocate this strategy which has proven to be the most effective so far. It is simple and doable.
Sleep is important:People who really get into the exercise habit miss out on one critical element and that is sleeping for 7-8 hours. This if you ask me is as critical as good food and exercise. If you compromise on any one area then your long term health will always be compromised. I meet people who say that they require only 4-5 hours of sleep but mind you they are an exception rather than someone to emulate. Also try one day of complete rest without any exercise to ensure you do not get burned out.
Go for a long term health plan:There are no instant fitness fixes no matter what any website or magazine promises. Don’t believe them. Getting fit and healthy takes time and should be gradual. If you’ve got a long way to go then aim to be healthy after a year. What I mean here is that work on changing your complete lifestyle rather than just one area of your life.
Learn to be present: One of the ways to enjoy what you do is to learn to really be present when you exercise and eat. For example when you run try to keep your mind in the moment. Feel your body, your breathing and experience your surroundings as your run past them. As you eat, really taste the food and feel the textures instead of gobbling it down mindlessly. It makes the entire experience much more enjoyable. As I type now I am not surprised to see my Thought for the day on my Face Book Fan Page stating “Live each moment to the fullest”.
I am sure you would have found some positives through my thoughts here. Getting into shape was never Rocket Science and will never be. The simpler we make of it ‘the simpler it will be”. If you would like to share your thoughts or have any queries on my article reach out to me on my mail firstname.lastname@example.org or on my face book page at www.facebook.com/B.N.Satishrao.