We feel a need to quantify our improvement, meaning that we pick a number and want to see it change over time. But what happens when all of our formulas, all of our calculations, fail to yield the results that we are after?
Some will give up. Others will double-check the math to make sure that everything is correct and keep at it. And the rest will throw out that formula and try a different one.
But the reality is that not everything is quantifiable. There is no universal formula or training program that gives everyone the same results for the same input. Train for quality, and let the quantities speak for themselves.
It is true for any goal, but especially a health or fitness goal: Make sure you pick the low-hanging fruit.
In other words, make sure that you target and accomplish the simple tasks that are immediately in front of you. A lot of people give up on big dreams because of their complexity. Yet if you take care of the parts that are within reach right now, the harder steps might just feel easier when you have momentum.
There are small blocks of time between activities; maybe a meeting ends early, or traffic was light.
These in-between moments are perfect for daily practices, a great way to build positive habits, or a moment to calm yourself.
If you recognize the opportunity, you can do a lot in a few minutes.
Many of us struggle to make the right choices in the moment.
Sure, abstractly we know the better option; and on a good day, it is easy to make the right choice. But on those bad days, it is hard to do what we feel that we should, instead of what we want. Willpower takes energy to maintain, and constantly fighting saps energy until we reach a breaking point.
The simple trick that helps to stay the course is to take the path of least resistance. Avoiding the situations where we struggle is much easier than fighting against temptation every moment of every day.
Many of us have big dreams about what we would like to do or what we would like to be.
Yet many of us do not take action. We get caught up entertaining ourselves, spending time instead of investing it. We frame our dreams in the distant future; some day often becomes never. Do not let that happen!
Whatever your dream, take the next step. Take it today. And then take another tomorrow, or next week. Find an hour here or there; you do not have to make a huge leap to go forward. Even the smallest of steps will build momentum.
We all have an inner child.
It is a part of ourselves that wants to have its way, immediately and regardless of consequence. Just like a little kid that wants candy instead of dinner, you have to be able to say no to that part of yourself.
Temper tantrum or not, your inner child is not in control. You know better. You know there are consequences for actions; that instant gratification is not the only thing that matters.
Many of us no longer know when we are hungry, and when we are thirsty; we simply have cravings. We have trained our bodies to send us mixed signals. What should be straight-forward is not the case.
We have a lot of options when it comes to food and drinks, more so than at any point in the past. While variety is the spice of life, it comes with a problem that most of us do not realize that we have. We have confused our body by consuming beverages that contain macro- and micro-nutrients (carbs, minerals, vitamins), and foods that have high water content (soups, stews, and sauces).
This can be combated against by adhering to a few simple guidelines. First, drink water more often than any other beverage. Ideally, have two or three glasses of water between any other beverages. Second, during meals try to drink sparingly. When you get more thirsty than hungry, that is a signal to stop eating. Drink a glass of water and then wait fifteen minutes before eating more food. Finally, do not eat when you are not hungry. There is a difference between having a taste for something and being hungry.
Great accomplishments take a supporting cast.
If something is important to you, use the resources that you have available to get you to your goals. Do not try to do everything on your own; do not make it about pride, if pride gets in the way of success. There is no shame in wanting to be healthy and free of pain.
Our habits spill over into other parts of our lives.
This can work against us. Having your legs crossed when you sit for long periods of time will work its way into a hip rotation when you move. Rounding your back to look at your computer monitor will make it harder to keep a straight back throughout the day.
But it can also work for us. Good eating decisions while training will lead to better decisions when you aren’t. Being active early in the day will keep your metabolism up for a number of hours afterwards.
So empower years of change by practicing the habits you want to keep, and double up on your improvement by using your motivation to guard against slipping back into habits that contradict what you are working toward.
Our tendency is to train ourselves from the outside in. For many of us this comes from an aesthetic motivation to workout; in other words, many train because they want to look better. But the problem with this is that focusing on the outside can leave you frustrated. It can even set you up to be worse than when you started.
Instead try to train yourself from the inside out. Focus on rest, nutrition, and core musculature first; then slowly shift the focus outward to encompass strength, endurance, speed, or aesthetics and body composition. This can be a great boon for anyone that is having trouble because they are intimidated.