A few years ago, I took a hard, honest look at the body I was taking with me into eventual retirement, and I found myself displeased.
Let’s see…my waistline had become a black hole. Anything that came near me got sucked into my center of gravity. Junk food could not approach the vortex of my gut without getting absorbed. Once inside, fat stayed. And it invited other fat to join the ever expanding mountain that had become my body.
Sleep became elusive, insomnia the norm.
Instead of a “night cap”, I required a whole bathtub full of drinks to knock myself out for a little shut eye.
For the most part, I was sedentary. For exercise, sometimes I would jump to conclusions when I got frustrated or run to the hills at signs of trouble. My only cardiovascular workout happened accidentally when I saw a spider. I would scream until I got dizzy, then faint. Other than that, I rarely moved.
I was in bad shape. Rough, round, tired, irritable, and weary shape…and ready for a change.
So I did. I changed everything at once. I went from likely candidate for a fatal heart attack to participating in Ironman events each weekend.
Yeah, no. That’s not what happened. And that’s not where I am today.
But it’s true that I tried to make a lot of changes at once, to get healthier overnight. No big surprise, the changes didn’t all take. And I got discouraged.
But finally, I got it right. I changed little things, one at a time. Like I walked a flight of stairs instead of taking the elevator. I reduced the amount of coffee I drank. I cut back a bit on indulging bad habits while increasing some new, healthier habits.
It’s hard to go from eating pizza to bean sprouts over the course of a meal. I don’t think most people can immediately exchange a Margarita for a mountain bike overnight. But you can pick one thing, make small improvements, and eventually get to a much better place.
If you could pick one thing to improve in your life, what would it be? Don’t limit yourself to health or diet; however, many people may think of several health and wellness things they wish to improve. Think in terms of eliminating a bad behavior or starting a new one.
Take the first step and create a small goal*. Here are some items to help you narrow down your list:
- Reduce something like sugars, carbs, fats, or portion size. Cut out coffee, cigarettes, booze, destructive relationships, time drains like video games, complaining, procrastination, jealousy, gossiping, speeding, etc.
- Increase something like exercise, water intake, or vegetable consumption. Spend more energy on family or work, volunteering, reading, gardening, learning Word Press, etc.
Write it down where you see many times a day…on the fridge door, on your bathroom mirror, on your dashboard. Now do it. The hardest part is getting started. But once you start, momentum can carry you a long way.
And while I’m far from perfect, I try to practice what I preach. In the last few years, I’ve dropped 50 pounds! I don’t look to alcohol or cigarettes for stress-reduction. Instead, I’ve taken up hiking, got myself a mountain bike, drink lots of water, and eat tons of veggies. Oh, and I’ve learned to sleep through my insomnia, too.
And the strange thing is that I have more energy than I did when I was 20!
So where are you going to start?
*The best goals have these elements in common:
- Challenging yet obtainable. Too easy, you may get bored. Too hard, you may get discouraged and quit.
- Aligned with improving the quality of your life (health, relationships, joy, etc.). Pick something that matters to you. This isn’t about strengthening your will or determination. It’s about getting something positive and meaningful for your efforts beyond your awareness that you have self-discipline.
- Measurable. If you can’t measure it you won’t have a way to gauge your improvement.
- Time-based. Don’t tell yourself that the change is FOREVER. Try it for a week or a month. If you see or feel positive, tangible results, you may with to continue with your program and add a few more things. If you’re not, pick something else.