Irrespective of the time of year in which you are reading this article though, the importance of this information remains the same. The message I would like to get across in this article concerns your physical health and overall well-being.
“Yes, it does include your eating and exercise habits. How did you guess?” As long as you notice I am using the word “habits”! I try to avoid that ugly word “diet” as far as possible. Not because I don’t appreciate the word, or dislike the idea of a diet in particular, but due to the bad connotation put to it by people (but I’ll get to that a little later – I am getting ahead of myself).
The Mind and Body Connection
It is of extreme importance that you realize the connection between your mind and body. The one cannot function fully without the full co-operation of the other. Do not kid yourself by thinking that you will just apply enough will-power to see you through that vigorous work-out program or to complete that strict 30 day diet. If you didn’t get yourself in the right mindset ahead of time, you’re in for a difficult time!
You first have to get your mindset right.
- First of all, you have to make the conscious decision that you need to lose weight, gain muscle, or whatever your goal might be.
- Secondly you need to determine your own “why”. If you don’t establish a very clear reason why you should achieve your goal, it will be extremely difficult to “stick to the program” and achieve the desired result.
- Thirdly, your “why” should be determined by you and no-one else. Don’t waste your time in trying to achieve “someone else’s” goal! It hardly ever works. Other people might have the best intentions at heart, giving you advice on what you should or shouldn’t do, but if you are not convinced in your own mind…..you have a problem. Are you embarrassed about your body-weight or your eating habits? Then you have to decide whether you are embarrassed enough to take action? If your health is at risk, you have to realize the dangers involved. Trying to please someone else is just not going to work.
Yes, this is where we get to the “diet” word, and where I will explain why I don’t like that word. When used in the right context, there is nothing wrong with a diet. As a matter of fact, the word “diet” is simply referring to your eating habits. You are either following a healthy diet or an unhealthy diet. But you are always following a diet.
What is disturbing though, is (especially at the beginning of a new year) the frequency that you hear people announcing that they are now going to follow “this popular diet”, or “that crash diet” and who knows what. These diets often follow such extreme eating patterns that it is not only a waste of time, but also very unhealthy, and do more harm than good!
Often that excess weight we are carrying around is due to unhealthy eating habits over a long period of time. Then December comes, and boy oh boy…..”let’s have some fun, now we can really go overboard…. I mean…..It’s fun!” Wow….I kid you not…
Am I popping your bubble? Does this mean we can never have some fun? Is it either fun, or health? By no means! Of course we can have some fun! We can even have fun with great, healthy, good tasting food! Of course we can enjoy those times when we can just spoil ourselves! The secret lies in moderation and discipline. Enjoying yourself and having a good time, doesn’t mean totally losing control! We need to realize that there are consequences to every action. The more we go overboard….the more weight we gain…..the more damage we cause……and the longer we keep doing it, the harder it becomes to overcome it and the longer it takes to lose the weight or repair the damage.
It took us quite some time to gain that weight, why do we think we have to get rid of it within a week? The minute you take these extreme measures, suddenly cutting out here, and cutting down there, the body goes into survival mode, and starts storing up reserves in the form of fat. Eventually we become frustrated, give up on the whole thing, and going through this whole ordeal, we just can’t help ourselves, we go overboard once again after being deprived of everything, confusing the body even more, and end up gaining even more weight than what we have lost.
This is just using the example of weight. It could also be in other areas. I can speak from experience. I was involved in sport on a professional level for many years. I’ve got a sweet tooth and I love sugar, so it was easy to use the excuse of “I am using sugar for energy”. I went totally overboard. I didn’t gain weight because I used up all the energy being so active, but if you would look at my energy levels on a graph, you would think you are looking at some graph of a stock market account. It would go from one extreme to the other! Not only that; sugar is also breaking down the ability of the body to absorb calcium into the bone structure, so I started suffering from injuries and I couldn’t heal properly! When I eventually discovered the origin of my problem, it took me a full year to properly recover from my injuries (that is over and above the withdrawal symptoms I experienced, excessive tiredness and heading for other health risks at a scary pace).
We need to form new eating habits! Habits that we can maintain! We can start by eating smaller portions but more frequently. Instead of having three large meals per day, aim to rather have 5 or even 6 small meals per day. This will prevent us from getting too hungry and going overboard when we see food. Also have a good breakfast, and then have smaller meals during the day. Try not to have supper too late at night, as that is the time just before we retire to bed, and it takes longer for the food to be digested, seeing the we are inactive and our metabolism is slowing down.
Obviously we also need to watch what we eat and start cutting out on all that junk-food. It is not the purpose of this article to recommend different diets, or what to eat and what to avoid, but I do intend to make regular posts with regards to healthy eating habits (or diets if you wish….lol)
Point is, it needs to become a habit!
Yes, the other “dreaded word”! I know, to many of us (especially approaching or even on the wrong side of 50), that sounds too much like “hard work”. But it need not be a burden!
We see it so often! When someone realizes the time for a good workout routine has come, he/she would hit the gym, and totally overdo it! Within a day it becomes complete agony, and it doesn’t take long to give up on the whole thing.
This is totally unnecessary. Find something that is enjoyable. Maybe take up golf, or go for an afternoon walk. If you have been active already, maybe start playing tennis. The important thing is, find something that you can enjoy, be realistic and start slowly and gently. If you haven’t been active in years, you are not going to become super fit and get that “six pack” in 2 days! Take your time!
Whatever you do, it must be enjoyable. Why torture yourself?
- Pay a visit to your doctor and get conformation that it is safe for you to undertake the exercise program of your choice.
- If at all possible (especially if you are to start a vigorous workout routine), find a qualified person to guide you, and show you the correct way of performing each exercise. Executing movements (exercises) in the wrong way, often leads to unnecessary (and long term) injuries.
- Gradually increase the intensity or tempo of your workouts.
- As with your diet, develop habits of being active and working out.
- Get enough sleep. (Believe it or not, but the effect of any workout routine is actually taking place in your body while you are sleeping, and not while you are working out.)
Before you know it, you will become fit, healthy, more energetic and you will feel on top of the world.
A note of interest: don’t be overly concerned with the scale. If you have experience in this field, it is easier to set a target weight and know what to expect. But keep in mind, that “muscle weight” is heavier than “fat weight”. So you might start losing weight rapidly until suddenly you seem to battle losing weight when watching the scale. Yet, you will find your pants or dress sizes will still be getting smaller and smaller. This means that even though you are not losing those pounds anymore, you are still losing inches, getting leaner.
As in the case with nutrition, physical exercise and exercise routines will also be discussed on this site, seeing that I have years of personal experience in that field.
Support and Advice
To the same extent that I mentioned that you need to guard against the temptation of “not chasing other people’s goals”, it is also important to realize that not everybody will share in your enthusiasm to achieve your goals.
If you can enjoy the support of your immediate family, you are blessed. Ask them to support you and help you to keep your motivation high.
Be selective who you share your goals with, to avoid being influenced negatively. When other’s try to “tempt” you into bad eating habits again, or skipping those workout sessions, keep your personal reasons in mind for setting your goal in the first place, and be disciplined! You will enjoy the fruits of whatever you choose (actions and consequences)!
- Change your thinking and decide that you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Maintain a positive attitude and develop a habit of positive thinking.
- Create and follow new healthy eating habits.
- Create and follow healthy habits with regards to your physical activity, such as taking part in sport, walking, jogging or following a good exercise routine. Get enough sleep.
- Keep good company where you will be supported and encouraged.
- Another note of interest: It takes time to develop a new habit. The experts tell us that it takes 21 days (recently I read an article where they mention it can even take up to 30 days) to form a new habit. So I presume we can safely say then that we can aim for 21 days, but it should take no longer than 30 days to form a new habit.
I hope this article was helpful. Please leave a comment below and give me your opinion. If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer or assist the best I can!