“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s stormy now doesn't mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.” – Dr. Anthony Fernando
Losing weight, building muscle, building a spaceship, starting a business, falling in love, and healthy eating are no simple feat. These can be stressful and take a toll on us. Some more than others.
For this article's sake, let’s stick to nutrition and exercising while leaving the other topics for NASA and Alex Hitchens (one of my all-time favorite movies).
Many people fall short with their goals because they’re unable to follow through with the implemented plan. In the majority of those plans, it wasn’t the plan or a lack of ability, it was the plans faulty foundation.
When I started to take my fitness serious, I became ultra restrictive with my personal life. For a decent amount of time, this worked and I got into phenomenal shape.
But over time, the effects of having a non-existing personal life lead me to have a deep disdain for fitness.
Far too often, we have this goal that we’re capable of achieving but always seem to fall short with it. With nutrition, it can be attempting to go cold turkey on your coke addictions. It could be attempting to exercise for 45 minutes 5x a week after you haven’t exercised in 3 months.
Great intentions and meanings are behind the goal. But, the foundation and execution required don't match up to the existing psychology and skill set that the person is at.
In a world full of extremes and big moments garnering all the spotlight—it’s tempting to think that these cataclysmic leaps and transformations are the norm.
And that's where the never-ending cycles of starting and then fizzling out weeks later starts.
By making small changes in our lifestyle, we increase our chances of succeeding long-term with our fitness.
Being involved with health and fitness for over ten years, when I look back at my journey—I attribute 3 key healthy hacks for my success.
1. Focus on adding healthy and positive habits into your life, not subtracting out the “bad”
For most people (including myself), it’s tough to remove things in our life once we’ve become accustomed to them. Subtracting involves changing a habit. It signals that there will be something to miss and long for.
Think about people after a breakup. Maybe they’ve been dating for seven months and then they break up. That comfort they had is gone. Saturday night activities aren’t a known fact since their partner is gone.
Cutting out your daily three cokes leaves a void.
When there’s a void, it triggers a feeling of discomfort. At the beginning, few of us are able to handle being uncomfortable.
Attempting to avoid this emotional feeling leads to regrettable decisions (one night stands, drunk calls/texts to the ex, and substitutions of coke for something equally worse but just seen in a different light).
What’s easier, adding a salad to lunch or ditching your grande mocha frappuccino?
Adding avoids deprivation.
Instead of banning your afternoon sugar fix from ever existing, try implementing a couple portions of lean proteins and some healthy fats at lunch. That sugar fix will likely disappear because you're supplying your body with quality nutrients.
Instead of banishing cookies for eternity, plan on eating 150-200 calories of something each day that isn't considered healthy. Then fill the rest of the day with quality foods.
Here are a couple of ideas to start with
- Slowly add water into your life with a reminder every hour to drink at least eight ounces
- Commit to exercising for 10 minutes and if you feel good, continue
- Want to sleep earlier? Start your bedtime 30 minutes earlier for 10-14 days and then reduce by 30 more minutes after reaching the first milestone
- Poor eating habits? Aim to make the first meal as healthy as possible, and only move on when you have consistency
2. Defaulting to every decision having the long term in mind
Playing the long term game prevents you from chasing short-term victories that are satisfying in the moment but actually distances yourself further from succeeding in the long term.
A regimented 30-day program where sugar isn't allowed, you exercise every day for 60 minutes, and calories are super low isn’t ideal for the long term.
You’ll definitely lose some weight during those 30 days, but what happens after those 30 days. What about your metabolism? What about your habits? Have you learned what proper healthy habits are? Or have you just been a robot for 30 days and will resort back to your old habits after this period?
The long term game in fitness prioritizes longevity, quality of life, and sustainability.
An easy way to always have the long term in mind is to use these three methods.
- If presented with a question or decision to make and you don’t feel an instant yes come upon you, then odds are, it’s something that you can pass on.
- Ask yourself “does this action benefit me in the long run?” If not, no is the answer.
- Ask yourself why 3-4 times before making a decision if there is some doubt or you’re about to make an impulse decision?
Keep the big picture in mind and those temptations and distractions will diminish.
3. Be strict with your relationships and communication
People can either lift you up or sink you down. You’re either moving forward with your goals or you’re moving backward.
Relationships are important because you become your company (sounds cliche, but true). If you hang around broke people who see the world from a scarce point of view, odds are, you’ll see the world the same way.
If you hang around friends who have poor eating habits, then odds are, you’re going to adopt those same habits and share their mentality.
One of the first things I gather when coaching and consulting is to get an idea of the client's environment. Are they around people who support their new goals? Or do some of the most important people in their life happen to have behaviors and habits that aren’t conducive to their new lifestyle?
It’s important to assess and be mindful of your environment. Before writing up a new diet or joining a workout program, assess your circle of influence. Is it a positive or a negative for these new goals?
If it’s a negative, seek out support and accountability to counter your circle.