Many of us set goals for our health or at the very least we yearn for a healthy body and mind. Sometimes we are motivated enough to buy all of the appropriate equipment, the right food, the workout gear and the gym or yoga membership.
We are amped, raring to go and feel great for a week or two, then something triggers us such as a festive occasion, a stressful situation or poor quality sleep. We succumb and fall victim to consuming foods and beverages that trigger crappy symptoms and signs. We then feel bad and bin our health goals declaring it will never work, so we give up on trying.
This entire reenactment is a familiar scene that we find ourselves in time and time again…
I believe the reason we fall victim to this cycle is the following four points.
1. No Accountability
Let’s face it, regular consultations and encouragement from mentors and health practitioners hold us accountable and inspire us to stick to our health programs. It’s our accountability buddy who believes we are capable of great results and refuses to buy into our ridiculous excuses, which leads to a shift in our beliefs.
When I’m met with a multitude of solutions for my self-imposed barriers, there is really only one option: to get on with the job and move through the familiar comfort zone, closer to where I want to be.
It's quite simple really - become accountable to someone. Get a mentor, work with a health practitioner or join a group challenge. Studies shows that regular prompts that remind you of what needs to be done lead to better health outcomes.
2. Failure To Plan
We live in a dimension where information is on tap. While we are lucky to be so info-abundant, most of us do not know where to start or how to piece it together into a protocol that suits our needs.
It’s so easy to while away hours creating information collages and traveling down article and research paper rabbit holes until your eyes scream out for some shut eye; attempting multiple concepts but not really making solid progress.
What if I told you that you could get results faster, reclaim lost hours and avoid a few premature grey hairs? You’d want to know the secret, right?
It’s quite simple… plan! Have a strategy and a deadline. Better still, let a qualified person do the research, be the expert and plan the protocol for you. Consult with your accountability buddy as mentioned above, or join a group challenge where a structure is already in place and you are progressively guided through.
Let go of dogma, though. Stay fluid with your plans and be open to a change in structure and direction. Just have the framework in place so that you know loosely what to expect and when to expect it by.
Measure - Whether you measure your waist circumference or your reduction in symptoms at different intervals, measuring highlights your progress and propels you forward or into a better direction, even when the motivation chips are wavering.
More on how to plan with least effort in the next point.
Research shows that plans guarantee you the best opportunity to achieve your goals.
There is a reason why quotes such as the following have been referenced for years.
“Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” and,
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin.
3. Overcomplicate - Focus On Too Many Action Steps
If you try to change everything all at once, a few things can happen. You feel overwhelmed, find yourself running out of steam before positive change inhabits your body and mind, or throw the entire idea in the "too hard" basket. You may even run out of money because the changes require you to overhaul your entire pantry and lifestyle and you decide to do it all...today!
Give yourself the chance to shift lanes progressively. Fill up on small achievements along the way and you’ll last the distance. Small increments inflict short-lived pain and help avoid suffering.
You wouldn’t expect to become a marathon runner overnight simply by buying the slickest sneakers and attempting a 40k run without practice, would you? Be realistic with an unreasonable backbone of faith. "Expect big results but commit to eating one frog at a time," as motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy always states.
Have ONE focus daily. Anything else achieved in your day is a bonus. On the night before, spend 10 minutes prioritizing your most important action step to work on the following day so that your mind starts mentally preparing for it. This tiny investment will save you hours of wasted time and a dithering scatter-gun approach.
Goals have many action steps so be sure to write them all down somewhere safe, such as in google docs, so that your mind can rest knowing you'll get to it.
Having the big picture and end in mind are essential but don't let it overwhelm you. Simply start. In fact, start before you are ready and begin feeling the rewards of achievement. This will stoke the momentum-fire in your belly and will keep you moving forward.
4. Lack Of Belief
Many believe that weight loss, good skin, regular bowel movements, a healthy pregnancy... insert health goal here... is unreachable. Deep within their body lie some core beliefs that sabotage those daily action steps.
Beliefs are simply thoughts that we keep thinking over and over again. Thoughts are fluid and changeable, so why not dare to invest your energy into thinking and embodying the health you crave?
The following techniques help me cultivate new beliefs and break through the old.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) continues to help me shorten the time spent hanging out in resistance and self limiting beliefs. As does being inspired by thought-shifting people like Dr. Joe Dispenza, his meditations, his story, his work and wisdom.
In 1986 Dr. JD re-conditioned his mind with new thoughts, and eventually beliefs, which led to healing his spine and walking again after spinal injury.
Miraculous stories like these of people reconditioning the mind come laced with an underlying determination, unwavering daily practice and commitment to taming unruly thoughts…It is possible!
- Implement a daily gratitude practice and include those things you would like to embody yet do not have. Some call this visualization or manifestation. Learn more about my gratitude practice here.
- Choose your language well and avoid the C word... Can’t. Remember, beliefs are thoughts we keep thinking over and over, so avoid verbally projecting something that has the power to trump all of your best efforts at even trying.
So if you hear yourself saying something of the like, "I can’t lose weight because my genetics say I’m destined for obesity," or "I can’t go for a walk tomorrow because I don’t have the right leggings," or "I can’t move my bowels regularly because I have lazy bowels and it’s too hard for people like me," have a gentle laugh at yourself and just reframe it.
For example try “I always feel so inspired after my walks and enjoy catching up with Julie at the same time.”
It’s unlikely that you will change an ingrained belief overnight. In fact, in the beginning the mind will resist and want to return to the familiar way of thinking. I encourage you to let the process be messy. Just keep turning up and doing the work.
The sooner you let go of the need for it to be perfect and accept a little statutory frustration along the way, the sooner you will reap the results you desire.
“A belief is just a thought that you keep thinking over and over again.” - Dr Joe Dispenza
A Note On Cultivating New Habits
Habits are actions we do repeatedly that can be changed.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power Of Habit, every habit has a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode, a routine that takes place and then a reward. Your mission is to identify your current routine and change it. The reward remains the same.
For example, every afternoon you get up from your work desk, buy a muffin from a local cafe and eat it while chatting with friends.
The cue is the need for a break before you plunge into another task.
The reward is temporary distraction, a change in scenery and socializing with friends.
The change in routine is to go outside, walk around the block, or walk over to your friend's office and have a chat for a few minutes instead.
It can take around 10 weeks to form a new habit, so keep at it and don’t let disappointment or feelings of failure take over. Accept that working toward health goals can be a frustrating traipse. Commit to a daily practice, let it be messy and never give up. Continue moving forward.