Personal trainers, coaches, nutritionists…. we all tend to see clients who have set goals – whether it’s fitness, weight loss, or committing to a personal wellness routine… and many of our clients share the same issue: The standard equation for reaching fitness goals tends to be missing some critical components.
At worst, we see a completely one sided approach to physical health – either diet OR exercise. But usually, we see a simple equation involving both: Calories in minus calories out… sometimes one compensating for the other. Sometimes this even works for a little while, but the reason why it often is unsustainable over time is that it is an incomplete equation. The way I see it, there are four components to optimal physical wellness: nutrition, exercise, rest, and mindset. To maximize on each of these components, we must approach them each with intention – a process that incorporates mindfulness, awareness, commitment, practice, accountability, and adaptation. If I were drawing an equation, it’d look something like this:
Physical Wellness = Mindfulness (Nutrition + Exercise + Rest + Mindset)
Super. So what does that mean?
I think that we all know we have to fuel our bodies by eating well. And maybe we don’t all define that the same way. There’s paleo, vegans, fruitarians, low carb, low fat, meal replacement things… to name a few. There are a lot of food movements. Which one is best? Different experts hold different opinions and a great nutritionist can provide fantastic guidelines, but what is truly best for you is the one you will actually do and make into a sustainable practice. Maybe for you that’s 6 days eating clean and one day you eat straight out of the garbage. Or maybe it’s something else. But it won’t matter if you don’t do it.
• Get a food journal, and devote yourself to it.
• Consider a nutritionist.
• Notice what makes YOU feel satisfied and feel good. Think about why that is?
Just as there are a host of different “diets” there are plenty of exercise programs. Why are there so many? Because different people like doing different things. High intensity internal training… Strength training… Low intensity/high rep or high intensity/low rep? Distance running or interval sprints… P90x… Zumba… Spinning… Water aerobics? Training alone or in groups? How do you pick the one that’s right? Good news – it’s the one that gives you joy. If you feel the burn but no joy you aren’t exercising; you’re practicing self flagellation. How long do you think you’ll be able to keep that up? The best exercise routine is the one that is best aligned to your goals and feels absolutely awesome. Doesn’t that feel doable?
• Write down your goals
• Consider a personal trainer (proper form is important)
• Experiment / mix it up
• Find your joy
I’m going to tell you what I tell my three year old when he asks me why he has to go to sleep every day… Sleep is when all the magic happens – it’s when you go from ordinary to super hero. Sleep is a required state that allows the body to heal and rebuild. That’s when the muscles repair themselves. It is also the full system reboot that allows hormones to operate at optimal efficiency. Every parent knows how valuable sleep is for our kids. What’s good for our children is good for all of us. Whenever you’re not sure if you’re taking care of yourself, ask if you’d be satisfied to see your child (or someone whom you love without question) treated the same way.
• Remember that rest also includes recovery training and rest days.
• While every body is different, generally shoot for a bedtime of 10pm and a wake time around 6.
• Sleep issues can be either causes or symptoms of health concerns, so involve your doctor and keep in mind that sleep under the influence of drugs or sleep aids is not the same as natural sleep patterns.
Whereas the above refer to behaviors, mindset is about attitudes and intention. This is where inspiration and motivation come from. It isn’t just about playful platitudes (c’mon, you can do it!) it’s about powerful, deeply rooted and emotional core beliefs. At its core it’s about totally and completely loving who you are, right now, and experiencing your body with tremendous gratitude. Many people make this terrible mistake of choosing to “get in shape” because once they reach the desired shape, then they will be loved – or be worthy of love – by others and by themselves. Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong. The key to being in optimal health is knowing that health reflects how you feel about yourself NOW. When you are in love with and thankful for what you have now, you will treat your body with that love and appreciation. It’s the difference between seeing nutrition as nourishment versus seeing diet as punishment for an ugly body. It’s the difference between lifting weights to celebrate how powerful your body is, versus dragging your listless body onto a treadmill and setting the speed and incline to match the half dozen cookies you ate for breakfast. Your body knows the difference between self care and punishment and it only responds favorably to one. Mindset is intention and intention is everything.
• Examine your attitudes and beliefs behind your behaviors – how are your current practices serving you (or not)?
• Fall in love with your very being, and treat yourself as you would treat a loved one; as you would love to be treated.
• Consider coaching to help expand your awareness of what’s holding you back and how you can bust through those boundaries.
There you have it. Now – go out there and play!