by Bret Smith CPT, B. A., B.S. | Move Strong Studio
Now that the sheen from the season of New Year’s resolutions has dulled a little, let’s get real about what it takes to see lasting results while undertaking a healthy lifestyle. Taking a look back at all the energy we spent during the holiday season and realizing how much we are doing each day, it is no wonder that fitness and nutrition opportunities take a beating during that time of year.
Hence, we put off what we should be doing today for a promise that we will make up for it in the future, i.e. New Year’s resolutions. Though it sounds good at the time, the plan is trading the sins of today for redemption tomorrow. What a great plan…I will have all this time to dedicate to getting to the gym, eating right and living better. The dream continues to thrive in a futuristic existence. I am not going to bore you with the stories you all know so well of how often those great intentions are kicked to the curb within the first several weeks of the New Year. I will however discuss what you and anyone you know can do to stop running down the dream and start living the dream every day.
First and foremost, you need to become a realist when it comes to taking on a new lifestyle choice. With all the best intentions our minds and bodies adjust at a tortoise like pace. We respond best to incremental change that are extremely achievable. For example, I use nutrition coaching in my practice as way to make is so simple my clients are basically guaranteed success. I might make a suggestion about staying well hydrated throughout the day based on the feedback they have given to me regarding the current state of their food intake. I will ask if they have a glass of water first thing after waking up in the morning. Most do not start their day with a glass of water, so we start there – by asking if they believe for the next two weeks they could start each day with a glass of water. Generally this is met with a “Oh yea, no problem” and then I say “Great we have our first goal and here is your tracking sheet” and away they go. Logging progress honestly is the only way we can use this tool, so if clients are honest and they have at least a 90% success rate- only then will the next new habit be added. Anything less and we start back from the top and make it just a little easier… say a glass of water every other day? I go through these exercises with all my clients especially early on to “set the tone” by making the least invasive choice become an avenue toward steadily adding new behaviors over time. All the while, clients proceed at a pace that removes barriers and ensures progress.
The above practice is called “crowding out,” and with enough support, encouragement and guidance, old behaviors are sloughed off and rarely missed. The same coaching method can be applied to new fitness opportunities. My clients usually have a one, two or three day a week schedule and with at least 4 other days of the week available for activity; the need to stay active outside of scheduled training sessions is imperative. At first a client’s workout schedule may be all they can handle physically and/or psychologically, so for a while we focus on just completing the sessions. Then as clients progress and adapt to regular workout sessions we work on one thing they can attempt in addition to their scheduled training sessions. Suggestions may include evening walks after dinner, a visit to a park or a lunch time stroll. Again nothing too invasive or threatening just some good total body movement with little to no preparation. Fairly soon these adopted behaviors have a major impact on the level of fitness by creating more activity that helps support growth and achievement in the specified workout program.
A line from the Tom Petty’s song “Running Down A Dream” says it best… “There’s something good waitin’ down this road.” Life is full of dreams as well as opportunity. Dream big and realize those dreams by choosing opportunities that steer you toward success. Today is the day to start! Not tomorrow. Not the next lunar eclipse. Get on the road to healthier living through good choices and a stepping stone approach that allows you to enjoy the ride!