Sunday, May 18, 2014

Making Positive Changes

"Every ending is a new point of beginning." - Louise L. Hay

So I got married eight months ago, and leading up to getting married I had little time (or more more accurately made little time) to exercise and focus on healthy lifestyle choices. I began to get comfortable and relaxed. I realise this is a natural part of being newly married, but I focused less and less on living a healthy life because I was so wrapped up in my happy life.

I felt like I was losing the grip I had previously had on my fitness and health. I was putting on weight, losing muscle definition, feeling tired every morning, and generally feeling sluggish.

Looking at my diet, I noticed that although I ate well most of the time I had increased the amount of bad carbs I was eating (like refined wheat, bread, pasta, etc.) and was allowing myself to 'snack' at nighttime on sweet biscuits and chocolate. Terrible. Especially because I knew better.

I follow Belle Gibson on Instagram and use her Whole Pantry app all the time in the kitchen. I read about health and wellbeing. But I was drinking too much caffeine. Eating too much sugar. Consuming copious amounts of butter. I definitely needed to make changes.

I felt as if I wanted to make changes, but I also struggled to do so.

And that has lead me create this list of steps to getting out of a 'rut' and getting yourself back on the path to wellness.

1. Listen to your body. 

It's vital to really stop and listen to the messages your body gives you. What could they be?

Well, your body could be telling you about your health daily, but you may not be tuned in to hear it.

For example: How do you feel in the morning? Are you exhausted - not just because you were out singing karaoke and partying on rooftops til 4 AM - but virtually every day? How do your eyes feel? Are they dry? Red? Are you hungry or have you lost your appetite? How strong is your urine? Does your lower back hurt? Are you getting sciatic nerve pain in your legs? Do you feel refreshed? How's your breath? Are you sweaty? Cold?

All of these indicators are important as they are your body's way of letting you know how it is feeling. Listen to your body and focus on what needs attention.

2. Identify what you need to improve. 

Once you have listened to your body and the messages you may have previously been ignoring, you now need to identify what it is that you need to improve upon.

I felt sluggish in the morning. I was hungry early in the day then ravenous in the afternoon, where I would pig out on carb-heavy foods to feel "full". I also looked at my diet and realised that I needed to make changes - more vegetables, less sugar and refined carbohydrates. I also noted that my energy levels were low. I remembered back to when I was exercising several times a week and saw that I don't have that kind of energy anymore. I listed all of these down.

3. Have a look at yourself. 

What you look like says a lot about your state of health. I'm getting a gut. My chest is shrinking. My arms aren't half as impressive as they used to be. I look tired. My skin is dry. I have dark circles under my eyes.

This all hinted at three things:
  • I wasn't getting enough sleep (8-9 hours a night is what I needed, I was getting 6 on a good night).
  • I wasn't eating the right things (I needed more 'good fats' and oils, leafy greens, iron, etc. and a lot less processed foods, fatty snacks, and Nutella).
  • I wasn't drinking enough water, and consuming too much caffeine (dark circles around the eye indicates a lack of sleep, but also dehydration, a build-up of toxins in the blood, and too much caffeine).

4. Choose a date. 

It's an important part of a process to build anticipation. Getting excited can help you stick at something. So, I spoke to my wife, and we decided to start the following Monday. That meant we also had time to prepare. We briefly noted down the things we'd need to do to make the changes successful:

- buy a tonne of vegetables
- get up early so we had time to eat a healthy breakfast
- make salads and time-consuming lunches the night before
- talk about our weekly routine and fit in exercise activities

Then, when the date came we were prepared.

5. Make a time limit. 

We've decided that we'll stick to these changes for 3 months (or about 90 days). That way, when we're struggling not to eat a Caramello Koala at 4:30 PM one afternoon we can think about the fact that the strictness will relax a little after that time, and avoid temptation.

Also - it's achievable. In that time I will be taking waist and arm measurements, weighing myself, etc. This means that I will actually achieve results. If I did it for two weeks and didn't see any changes, without the larger goal of three months, I may've given up. But by giving myself the longer time period I am guaranteed results.

In one month I'll start looking and feeling a lot better.
In two months other people will notice the changes.
In three months I will feel, look, and be a lot healthier and fitter!

6. Make it fun and achievable. 

I'm making sure I create opportunities for me to do activities that I enjoy (cardio, group workouts, running, Epsom salt bath soaks, herbal teas, etc.). That way, I'm more likely to stick to it.

Also, I'm not cutting out some things completely - like alcohol and coffee. I will still have that morning coffee and have a flat white out with friends. I'll still have a beer with mates or a wine with dinner some nights. Don't be afraid to do this within reason, and don't feel any guilt for doing so. Life is for living, so make sure you enjoy it! Just also keep in mind that you want to keep enjoying life, rather than developing chronic illnesses from poor diet and a lack of exercise. That way, you'll be balanced and happy.

I hope these 6 steps help you make the changes you need to, to create yourself a wonderful tomorrow. Every step you make now ensures you reach your goal earlier. So take notice, listen to your body, identify the changes you personally need to make, then make them. And make them fun.