Monday, April 11, 2011

Make A Change To See A Change

Now that you know what drives you, it's time to do something about it.  You need to have a reason to make your health a priority and a plan to get there, but that's not enough.  You actually need to make changes to see changes.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious, you say?  Sorry, but it needs to be said.

So often I see people weighing themselves on a weekly, or even daily, basis.  The scale doesn't budge or it goes in the opposite direction and they get frustrated.  I've heard people call the scale a liar, tell me it's broken, and emit noises that made me think I was T-2 seconds away from putting my first aid training to the test.  

You can't blame the scale if you didn't make an effort to do anything different.  Still chugging beer every weekend?  Satisfying that annoying sweet tooth right before bed?  Portion sizes?  What's a portion size?

Same goes for the guy who's been doing the exact same workout for the past ten years.  He trudges along on the treadmill at the exact same speed with zero incline, usually for 30 minutes.  He then hops on the same six weight machines and sets them to the same weight he always uses.  A final round of 100 crunches wraps things up.  And yet, his fitness level still leaves him sore after a day of yard work and he's thrown out his back getting in and out of the car.

 You can't expect your fitness level to improve if you keep doing the same workout over and over again.  Why would your body have the stamina to run five miles when you only ever ask it to run two?  Just like you can't expect to lose weight if you're still eating the same number of calories that got you those extra *insert undesirable number here* pounds in the first place.

So, where do you start?  You tell me.  I could spout off a ton of fitness and health information that we've all heard before but deep down we all know what areas we personally need to improve upon.  The key is to tackle them one at a time.  Pick ONE thing and make it your goal for this week. 
  • Eat something small for breakfast (like a nonfat yogurt, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, etc.) for those of you who routinely skip breakfast
  • Try to distract yourself from that post-work veg session.  Go for a quick walk or tackle that household chore you've been meaning to do to see if the craving passes.
  • Increase the intensity of your workouts.  This could mean lifting a heavier weight, adding more resistance on the elliptical, or just trying something NEW for crying out loud.
Chances are, there's more than one goal you want to tackle to see the results you want.  It's likely you'll stick with one thing you're really good at than ten things you're only so-so at.  Plus, it's far more manageable and you'll stay (relatively) sane.  Once you're stomping all over that first goal with awesomeness, bring on the next.

I know even changing the smallest thing can feel daunting.  Staying stagnant is, by far, the easiest option.  But let's face it, if you're reading this it's likely "stagnant" isn't making you happy.  Stagnant isn't going to give us more energy in the day, make us stronger, or add quality years to our lives.  Change is hard but the results make it all a distant memory.

Brace yourself for an early 90's reference:  One of my favorite movies of all time is A League of Their Own.  Towards the end, Jimmy Duggan (Tom Hanks) calls out Gena Davis' character for quitting the team because it was "too hard".

           "It's supposed to be hard.  If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it.  The what makes it great."

Same thing goes for your health.  If it wasn't hard, we wouldn't have the population-wide health issues we do today.  Plus, I'd probably have to find a new job. :)

That about wraps it up for me which means it's your turn.  What small change will you make this week?

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