Monday, October 24, 2011

How do I get fit? Where do I start?

After 13 years teaching people how to get fit, it seems that I could be in school full time year after year and still be challenged with "how" to get someone fit. There are many different facets to health that create health that provide for the foundation to truly feel and live healthy.

In all of our lives, when one of the facets of health falls out of balance, our health in all facets starts to deteriorate. As a coach, my job is to assess which facet of your health is the most out of sync, and which is the most reasonable to focus energy on first.

Here are the facets that I think make up a healthy person:

Personal Growth

Of course each of these areas could include things like relationships, work/life balance, spiritual devotion, hobbies, family stresses, etc.

If any of these areas becomes a focus for a period of at least 2 weeks a shift to improved health is possible. If the focus lasts at least 1 month, the benefits are much longer lasting, and likely to effect the other areas in your life.

Lets look at Sleep as an example. If you focused on getting more sleep, it's likely your energy would improve giving you more energy to workout, your late night eating would diminish resulting in better nutrition, your morning fatigue would be alleviated and the morning rush would be eased, lowering your overall stress.

Any of these facets provide a similar flowing over effect that transfers the efforts of one into all the others. The hang up happens when one area is focused on as being the magic bullet. "if I just work out, I'll lose the weight". The truth is, without being open to the possibility to changing the others, the results of health will be limited and short lived.

People who live healthy lives with little effort have created habits that feed these facets. When one gets off track, like work stress heats up, they take care to get more sleep, watch what they eat, or burn that stress off in a workout. That's what keeps them healthy over the long haul.

No one is perfect, and no one eats right, sleeps well, manages stress effectively all the time. No one gets there workouts in as much as they hope, or have time to reflect and grow as often as they'd like. But those that are healthy know that when one area is lacking, others can help pull through.

When you are ready to take your health to the next level, changing your lifestyle is about considering all the facets of health, beginning with one area, and allowing the others to naturally improve as the months go on. At some point in the process, you will need to look at each of these areas and make small changes to reap the rewards.

Each area provides for an opportunity to learn more about yourself, and find what health really means to you in that area. Lets take nutrition as an example. Some may find that becoming a vegetarian or vegan is what health really looks like for them, others may find that living a life free of processed food means good nutrition, what ever the fit is for your genes and your attitude, there will be some focus required to sustain this healthy practice. No one way is perfect for everyone because everyone is different.

Where do I start?
Having a look at the list, you can approach change by considering which areas seem to be the easiest to change. Sometimes that appears to be the area in which you feel you have the most control (even though you have control over all of them) or the area that you feel most motivated to change first.

Once you've chosen your facet to focus on, next set out some goals for this area, and get to work making small but effective changes for a month. Consider that with your new energy, or uplifted spirit you put it towards another avenue, building on the momentum. Continue to set goals each month, trying new things (not every plan will be a success), and continue focusing on the idea that small changes in one area, can help to propel you in other areas too.

Self sabotage comes in when you begin to justify a bad choices, often conflicting with one of the facets of health.
I worked out today, so I can have this chocolate sundae
I had a hard day at work so I deserve to stay up late
I don't have time to set goals

Another issue I see, is trying to take on all facets together. I often see someone who is trying to quit smoking, lose weight, eat better, and exercise - and they want to do that all in the same week. It's possible for all to change, but focusing on one and allowing the changes to flow into the other avenues is the most effective and longest lasting.

If your looking at changing your lifestyle, consider the areas you'd like to change. 1. Make a list of all the things you'd like to do to take better care of yourself.
2. Prioritize them into the most important to least important
3. Combine them into 3 distinct goals.
4. Choose one goal to start with, breaking it down into steps.
5. Begin. Commit to 1 month, with the intent to adjust course as needed.
6. Get support if your struggling, or choose another goal to begin. (maybe you bit off more than you could chew at first)
7. After one month, revisit your goals, and add a new goal to the list.

A 90 Day plan could mean 3 facets of your health can be improved significantly.

For more information on goal setting check out one of my other articles for an outline.

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