In recent years, I have worked hard on getting healthy.
What began as a mission for our upcoming wedding, quickly became a lifestyle – one that I happily committed to. Along my journey I have found a few tid-bits of wisdom that stuck with me and helped me overcome some seriously bad habits in my routine.
While I am no expert, here are my five favourite fitness truths that made the most impact on my progress:
1. Making small changes can make the biggest impact: When I attempted to make too many drastic changes at once, I found I was setting myself up for failure. It was so much easier to slowly work my way up to a goal by gradually tweaking my workouts, eating habits and even my mentality. It’s like training for a marathon.
I went from a 2 milk, 1 sugar coffee at Tim’s to a 2 milk, sometimes black. I switched our whole wheat bread and white rice out for whole grains. I cut back on my intake of cheese (believe me, it was a problem). I added 1 more lap around the track or a sprint lap during my training runs or I pushed myself for one more rep of my workout. I went from walk/running 5 km, to running all 5, then 8 and sometimes even 10 when my knee allows. I started eating breakfast. I’m not suggesting your goals will be the same. I am suggesting, however, that you make the smallest changes, make them a habit and then switch up another element of your routine. Which leads me to my next point..
2. Your fitness is 100% mental: I once read the quote, “your body won’t go where your mind won’t let it”. Brilliantly true, beyond true. Your mind is an extremely powerful tool and can be used for both destructive and constructive purpose. If you tell yourself you can’t do or accomplish something, you are absolutely correct. If you tell yourself you can do it, that you don’t have a choice, you are going to reach your goals.
On top of pushing yourself and getting your self-talk-track right – to be your cheerleader and convince your legs they’re not tired, tell your lungs to keep control of your breathing, that your body is capable – your fitness path needs a WHOLE LOT of positivity and patience. If your brain isn’t being nice to you because you’re not seeing results or watching the number on the scale drop fast enough, tell it to shut the hell up. Go with how you feel, how your clothes are fitting. Take note of the energy increase you have and the pep in your step because of the shot of endorphins coursing through your body – and then celebrate those important victories. You have to want it and you have to make sure your brain is with you.
3. Eat: Do not be afraid of food! Be afraid of the wrong food – the processed, chemical-filled, GMO food – be very, very afraid. Do not be afraid of eating a hearty meal of the right foods – whole foods. I’m not suggesting you attempt “eating clean”, but I am suggesting that you attempt to learn how to eat to nourish your body. For starters, make sure your cart is full of foods from the outside aisles when completing the weekly shopping trip. Buy more perishables than not. Just this small change can change the course of your health. Add in moderate weekly exercise and you’re adding years to your life and subtracting inches from your waistline.
Hand-in-hand with that, do not deprive yourself, but do monitor and have some control over the amount of giving into delicious urges. If you crave chocolate, attempt to satisfy your craving with fruit or dark chocolate. If it’s just a craving that won’t go away, even with provisions, give in – but a little. Have a small amount of milk chocolate, or portion control your chips if you’re a salt fiend, like me, when a few pretzels won’t cut it. Allow yourself to be human, forgive yourself, and do better the next day.
4. Get your water in: This is my demon. I struggle daily to get my required water intake in. It doesn’t help that my bladder is the size of an upside-down bottle cap, or that I am a complete coffee addict, but aside from that I totally know the rules, yet just can’t seem to follow them.
Like I know that for every cup of coffee, your replacement water intake is 2 glasses. I know I should have water all damn day long. I know that when I wake up, the first thing I should do is drink a glass of water. I know, I know, I know. I’m looking into the cost of an IV, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep working on it. Maybe I should appoint a water reminding delegate… Hmm…yup! Now accepting applications.
5. Do what works for you: Personally, I hate the gym. It’s only because I find the atmosphere and equipment intimidating. I wish I could love the gym. Maybe one day.
Instead I love HIIT style workouts with my sisters and girlfriends. Instead I prefer a challenging hike at the crack of dawn. Instead I run – for the body buzz, and the feeling of freedom and the way it makes my heart fly – mostly I run because I can and why not? I do squat challenges like completing 25 after every visit to the loo. I do hot yoga. I do whatever feels right and makes me want to move and challenge myself. And most importantly, I do what I know works for me.
It’s 100% personal and you’ll know when you find what works for you.