Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter!
Happy New Year!
Usually for the first newsletter of the year I write and update my Top Tips For Healthy Living article. As I re-read last year’s article, I see that nothing has changed in terms of my suggestions. Here it is : http://www.joyinmovement.com/newsletters/how-to-improve-your-health-top-12-ways/
So I’m going to discuss something related that I feel will be a great and valuable way to kick off 2016.
It is so hard NOT to compare ourselves to others. And some days it feels like everyone else is doing better than we are. They seem to be handling their lives better, their health better, and reaching all their healthy lifestyle goals. For them life seems effortless when for us it feels so FULL of effort.
However, as a health and fitness professional for over 20 years now, I can tell you that everyone struggles. Everyone struggles with health, fitness, and nutrition.
We’re all imperfect human beings with:
*hopes and fears and desires and neuroses,
*and jobs and lives and kids and dogs or cats,
*and family demands,
*and the list goes on and on.
And yet we’re all going to be OKAY!
So here are 7 ways to be even more OKAY and be your best in your own life!
1. You may need to re-examine your expectations.
Getting into reasonable, moderate shape isn’t too complicated. All you usually need are small consistent changes here and there. An extra walk everyday, perhaps a weekly class at the gym, or packing an apple in your lunch will generally do the trick.
Getting into pretty good shape is a little trickier and you’ll need to be committed. You’ll need to focus more on food choices and portion sizes and spend more time exercising. It’s certainly doable!
Knowing your goal is good but knowing what action steps you’ll have to take is even better, and can help you decide how committed you really are.
2. Find realistic role models.
There are more “fit and healthy” people than you imagine. They might not look as you expect. “Fit and healthy” comes in many sizes, shapes, and abilities. Look around.
I’d love to hear stories about who your role models are. My postman walks 10 miles a day! I vote for him.
Maybe you’d feel better about yourself if you changed your perspective to what’s good enough, or even a little bit better.
I have shifted to looking for moments of health, fitness, and wellness everywhere and on each day. Am I breathing well, how is my posture, am I sleeping restfully? I pay attention to some other aspects of wellness that might be more nuanced. Staying focused on what you could do TODAY helps.
3. Embrace the struggle. I know, I know, it sounds so “new-agey”.
Challenged with pain, whether that’s actual pain and suffering, or just small daily annoyances, is part of being human. As adults, we recognize life’s complexity and richness.
Everyone has a struggle. You might just not see it. You won’t know about the people taking medication, or antidepressants, or living with chronic pain. No matter what your challenge is, learn to be good enough and show up trying your best in an imperfect situation.
4. Recognize and respect your not-OK-ness. None of us are 100 percent OK.
However, sometimes things are really not-OK.
You probably would benefit from making some changes if you’re experiencing things like:
• chronic insomnia or poor quality sleep
• chronic pain or lack of mobility
• frequent injuries and/or illnesses
• chronic and debilitating depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns
• chronic lack of energy
• concerns with food, eating, and/or exercise that seem to be taking over your life and/or harming your health.
One coach I know calls these your “dashboard indicator lights” and I like that. Think of them as warning signals.
We all have our own signals and learning what they are and what to do about them is essential. If something feels really off, you might need a little extra help. Talk to a trained coach, counselor, or other health care professional.
5. Learn to be OK with discomfort, and by this I mean that change is uncomfortable.
Sometimes the road to greater health, fitness, and well-being is messy before it becomes the new normal. A good coach helps you “lean in” to creating new behaviors. Out of discomfort comes comfort, and so it goes. Learning how to sit with what’s uncomfortable gives us the space to make wiser choices about what to change or improve next.
6. Take small steps. The more I talk with my clients and students the more I realize there are A LOT of invisible successes and joys.
Maybe nobody but the early morning bus driver sees you running in the dark at 6 A.M., but you know. And you’re proud of your dedication. And perhaps only your grocer sees you picking out leafy greens and lean protein to put in your shopping cart. But you know.
And you’re proud of passing by the ice cream and chips that once called your name when you struggled with binge eating. And certainly nobody sees the inside of your brain when you struggle with the right choice in a situation where you don’t have to make the right choice. But you know. And with that choice you’re proud of yourself for sticking to your values.
Maybe you think these efforts were so small, they didn’t count. But again, with all my years of experience in coaching I can tell you that the steps that lead to success in ANYTHING are almost all small things. Success comes from putting small things on top of small things on top of small things.
7. We all need work-arounds, so identify and find YOURS.
Work on creating a health and fitness system that you trust. If you’re injured there are always other movement options and every workout can be modified. If you don’t like cooking alone or exercising alone, find someone else to do this with.
If you’re having trouble with time management and scheduling is not your strength, get out a calendar and start planning. Book appointments for everything, even grocery shopping. Track your time use so that you know when you’re wasting time. Then, set alarms and reminders, stick up Post-it notes, do away with social media and hang out with the trees and animals during a walk in the park instead.
Trust me when I tell you that most people aren’t “naturally” good at most things.
The people who look like they’re good at things are getting help, and/or have a trusted system to guide them.
When we start accepting our own limitations and find work-arounds, we start making changes for the better. We embrace the small improvements that add up over time. We treat ourselves compassionately and let go of that “all or nothing” thinking. We pick ourselves up after we fall down, and we make course corrections when we need to.
I hope this year you’ll join me in being more OK, and in using these monthly Joyinmovement newsletters as encouragement. I’ve got an exciting year of topics planned, and as always, if you have any questions or topics you’d like to see me write about this year, let me know!