Einstein is often credited with having said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. So many of us are “insane” when it comes to our health. Not only do we continue to repeat the same unproductive health cycles over and over, we are disappointed—if not shocked—when the same actions lead to the same “non” results.
Stop cycling through fad workouts and diets and wondering why you still can’t stick to your program! You have to create something that works for you versus hopping from one generic program to the next. Stop making grand proclamations and health “wishes” about how you will “start working out Monday,” lose a set amount of weight, or change your eating habits without taking the time to figure out how you will make your wishes become a reality.
If you want to create the fitter you that you desire, you have to set yourself up for success. Take the time to analyze your past health history, schedule food prep and workouts, figure out (in advance) possible problems and solutions, and understand your life realities.
5 Inventive Ways to Create Your Fittest Future Self
Use the education model of progressive growth—think progress, not perfection.
Master grade 1 of fitness before you attempt to master grade 12. In fitness, too many of us quit when we unrealistically want to ace grade 12 before mastering grades 1 through 11. If you feel awkward in Zumba the first time, that is to be expected. Give yourself time to learn the steps. If you are sore post-workout, that is to be expected—give yourself time to get stronger.
Measure your success based on where you are versus where you think you should be. If you were in grade 1, success would be measured by acing grade 1. If you failed a grade 12 test in grade 1, that would not be considered a failure because you would understand you can’t ace grade 12 without going through the preceding grades.
Ditch your “evil roommate.”
Most of us have a “health enemy” living inside our heads—an “evil roommate” who sabotages our health success. Our self-talk is atrociously cruel and unproductive; it rationalizes constant self-sabotaging behavior. Reflect on this for a minute. There is something wrong with the fact that we spend most of our day with someone in our head who is being mean to us—not believing in our abilities and our worth. No wonder so many of us overeat, drink too much and underexercise!
Internally, we use a belittling tone of voice and rude language that we would never use on the barista at Starbucks, let alone a loved one, while we make other people healthy food, meet work deadlines, put other people’s schedules before our own, and generally burn ourselves out for others. Take the time to develop productive, more compassionate and growth-oriented self-talk. Create a roommate you actually like.
Create goals, not wishes (i.e., have a plan of action).
Establish one or two long- and short-term goals. Make sure these goals respect the time, money and emotional resources you actually have versus the resources you wish you had. Thrive in your own lane— analyze your past injuries, your age, your stage of life, and what you realistically can achieve versus what you wish you could achieve.
Identify the WWWH of your goal:
WHEN will you work out? At lunch? Before work? After work?
WHERE will you work out? Will you get a gym membership, set up a home gym or train at the office gym?
WHAT will you do? Will you run, do Zumba, take a dance class?
HOW will you make it happen? What accommodations do you have to put into place? Arrange childcare, shift your work hours slightly so you can train in the morning? Create systems that allow you to follow through—get a fitness buddy, book off your lunch breaks, etc.
Make it fun—who doesn’t love a good game?
Find something you enjoy—or at least something you don’t despise. No one can make themselves do something they hate long-term. Consider gamifying your journey—find simple, creative, enjoyable, and effective ways you can “gamify” your health. Create a health challenge at home or work, play a few minutes of a pattern recognition game such as Tetris or Candy Crush to squash a craving, find allies, and pinpoint villains (e.g., make a joke out of the “evil chair” who always wants to keep you from your workout).
Think “solutions” vs. excuses.
Can’t get to the gym? No problem. Set up a home gym. Hate exercise? Find non-traditional methods—do intervals as you walk your dog or take a dance class. Extremely busy at work? No problem! Make your fitness “stackable.” Walk during conference calls, try core and lower-body exercises as you watch TV, turn cleaning into a workout, try balancing on one leg as you wait for the streetcar, or do squats, lunges, etc. on the sidelines as you watch your children play or practice a sport.
Hope is not a strategy and what works for someone else is a moot point. You have to thrive in your own lane. “Opt in” to your health journey. Let go of any resentment. Health is a privilege. Take the time to set yourself up for success!