How can we develop healthy habits without making ourselves a prisoner of our routines
The thought of getting in shape can be overwhelming. There can be so much you need to change all at once. But you know you need to do it. Whether you're carrying a little more weight around the midsection than you'd like. Or you have no energy after work to hang with your kids. Or maybe you're noticing your kids are falling into the same poor habits you have and you don't want that for them. That need for a healthier lifestyle may not be something you want to do but you know you need to.
I'm hoping to make this concept a smaller bite to chew. Rather than this ginormous mountain to climb. Because I hear you on this one. Sometimes when you have a goal in mind and you try to break down those steps. It can make you not want to start at all. It's just too much.
But this is when we need to consider the future for you AND the people around you. Do you want to be in the same position 30 days from now? Or 200 days from now? Most of us don't. We want to be in a different place but we've got to put the work in to get there.
So that's the first thing we need to do. Consider our future selves. In march 23' I completed the 75 hard challenge. Definitely not because I wanted to. Well I wanted to complete it, I didn't want to do it. But I did it because I wanted to strengthen my discipline. I tend to give up when things get hard. I want to switch things up or do something different. But by doing the 75 hard it challenged that. It pushed my discipline to a whole other level. Not because I wanted too but I knew I needed to. I knew after it, I would be changed for the better. And now that I am finished I know my weaknesses but also that I can do hard things. And I can do things I don't want to do. So what are the things you keep pushing off that you know will benefit you? This could be as simple as going to the dentist (me lol) or getting that gym membership. Or cutting yourself off after one TV episode rather than binging them every weekend. What are those big or small things you know you need to do but are putting it off? Consider your future self.
Now that you have some thoughts churning. It's time to think of some goals we may have. Whether it's getting healthier. Or changing your lifestyle. Let's clarify them so we have an attainable goal. Is getting healthier eating 70% nutrient dense foods? Or Only watching 5 episodes a week of your show. Or losing those 30 pounds that have crept up over the years. Define those goals. Write them down.
Now maybe I have your attention a little bit. But you're not convinced to make the change. It still seems so big, so much, too much. Take the time to Consider how you feel now and how you want to feel. The lack of energy or drive. The discomfort you feel in your own clothes and as you watch your kids fall into your same patterns. Are those "restrictive" boundaries better than where you're at now? Ask yourself that. The “health prison” you are afraid to enter. Is that worse than where you're at now?.......it's a tough pill to swallow but we have to ask ourselves that. Because in reality we are always sacrificing something. When we were watching an extra episode, we were sacrificing sleep. When we were at the gym we were sacrificing time with our kids. When we were taking time to meal prep we were sacrificing watching the game. We are always sacrificing something. So what's worth it?
Two comments I read recently about this topic:
“A healthy life used to seem boring and like prison to me too, but that’s because I didn’t even know how it felt. Now that I have all these healthy routines in place I feel amazing and cannot believe I thought it would suck. It’s the other way around, I wish I started earlier.”-A
"Being undisciplined puts you in a different kind of prison. Where you're controlled by your unhealthy proclivities rather than by health-enhancing routines." -A
Those hit my heart. I can feel the regret in the words. But also the victory. That they put in the time and are seeing the fruit of it. And it was worth it.
Going back to our goals. It's time to take baby steps. Don't throw away all your cookies. Or throw away your TV. Or sign up your whole family for Crossfit. The best way to go about this is small realistic steps. We want to focus on progress over perfection. When I am working towards a goal I will set 3-5 specific tasks to do every single day. I won't change them until it becomes a habit that I master. For example if you're looking to create a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. Your 5 daily tasks could be:
Eat 1-3 servings of vegetables a day
Drink 100 oz of water
No more than one show or movie a night
No phones at dinner
Spend 10 minutes outside.
These are some examples of great habits that can benefit you or your family. Find some daily tasks that you or you and your family can do. This can help it not be so all consuming. And you can still do everything else you would normally do. But with some healthy habits incorporated. Along with focusing on progress over perfection. For my perfectionists or all or nothing people. Remember that instead of all or nothing let's focus on the something. There will be days where things don't go as planned. That is life. So remember in those days and moments rather than tossing in the towel we can focus on the something we can control.
Changing your mindset towards this process is huge. Change your mindset and change your verbiage. It's so easy to complain about having to do XY, and Z. But instead, say that you get too. That you're thankful you still can do these things and make changes. Often the attitude towards the task is half the battle. So change your words towards it and your thoughts will follow.
A book I find to be very beneficial is atomic habits. This book can help in simplifying habits and show you how to pair an old habit with a new one. For example when you're making your coffee in the morning, drink a cup of water while it's brewing. Tying new too old can simplify the process.
I hope this encourages you to not look at a healthy lifestyle as a prison but freedom. To enhance your life. To change your future. Do it for the future you. If you need additional support in how to do this sustainably. Join the free MIFIT facebook group to get what you need.