If I were asked in front of a large group of people if I ever struggled with my diet and fitness regimen on a daily basis, I’d reply with a resounding “Yes!”
I’m not afraid to admit that I’m constantly grappling with motivation and will power. Staying on course can sometimes be intimidating. We may begin with heaps of enthusiasm and a zest to succeed in our idea to get healthy, but sometimes that resolve can fade as time ticks on. Unanticipated events that spring up within each of our lives can complicate any health routine. Any number of life’s obstacles can discourage us and cause us to turn back from our path towards a healthy lifestyle.
To start an exercise and diet regimen is one thing, but to stay fit for a lifetime can be as appealing as mountain climbing without your hiking gear. Before beginning a lifelong pledge to diet and health, making a personal pact with ourselves is the first step towards success. Delving into the uncharted waters of our wellbeing is not for the faint-hearted. Consider achieving a lifetime goal of healthy eating and exercise by making a mental pledge or a simple agreement with yourself before embarking on your own fitness journey.
Beforehand, make a mental ‘contract’ by compiling a list of promises to keep:
I Promise to Make the Time – We can all find excuses about why we don’t have time to exercise. Work, family, illness, and even the weather can play a role in the defense we make for keeping ourselves from exercising. If work gets in the way, set aside time in the morning, evening, or even during your break time and take 20 minutes to walk, ride a stationary bike, or join an exercise class. Working out is a choice we make in spite of the many times we hear our brain telling us to quit or that we’re just too busy for exercise. Family is important. The key to a fine balance between work and family time is including your family in your exercise routine. Biking together, hiking, walking the trails at a local park is a suitable compromise when busy families are in question. You will find that once your body adapts to regular diet and exercise, the less often you’ll become sick. Once a routine is set in motion and you fend off those emotions to give in and quit, your will and tenacity grows stronger and soon keeping fit becomes a way of life.
I Promise to Set A Goal, Even If It’s a Small One – Many people acquire the motivation to lose weight by setting their sights on a big event such as a wedding, class reunion, or another social extravaganza. Some sign up for walks, 5K runs or even marathons to get them motivated. If these goals are too lofty for you… start small. Even making baby steps is still doing something. Small bits of progress each day lead to you continuing down the path of fitness for a lifetime. My goal when I began running, was to count the number of mailboxes I could pass. I started out being able to run “2 mailbox-lengths” at a time. With each additional mailbox I was able to pass as the days progressed was another notch on my fitness belt. I patted myself on the back when I ran a distance of 5 mailboxes on one occasion! It’s okay to reward yourself for baby steps.
I Promise To Pat Myself On the Back – Even if you slip-up, fall off the fitness wagon, or just plain quit, give yourself the credit for trying. Things do happen in life. For example, I wouldn’t be so inclined to run on the Stairmaster if I had to struggle over the loss of a loved one. We will lose our footing at times, but if we trip and skin our knees (so to speak), the obvious next step is to get up, brush off the dirt, and continue on. Those who do this are the true warriors.
I Promise to Make Up for Any Loss of Control – We’re all human. Occasionally, we go for the big splurge and then kick ourselves for our lack of willpower. The ice cream that beckons us, or the calorie-laden dinner that had our mouths drooling like salivating dogs waiting for table scraps, or the big comfy couch that seemingly grabbed us by both legs and forced us to plop on it for the entire day are definitely culprits. These temptations, however, can’t be used as an excuse for weakness. We are our own advocates for staying healthy and we cannot hold anything, or any entity, accountable for the decisions we make. It is our choice to stay on track. Try to avoid those tricky situations that have the potential to send us careening down a hill towards a ditch of inactivity and physical apathy.
I Promise to Moderate My Intake – If we’re prone to slurping down our Starbucks Mocha Double Lattes and gorging on our delicious pastas and drinking our soda, beers and liquors and indulging in our sweets, we need to think about how these habits might need to become a thing of the past. I don’t mean doing away with these delectable treats altogether. But the old saying is true: “Everything in moderation” – and when it comes to changing your lifestyle and being a fit and healthy person, moderation is key. Watch your portions, eat slowly, give your stomach time to register that it is full. Order the Starbucks coffee with skim milk and a small amount of flavored cream. Have a little pasta with your meal of mostly protein. Cut down on your drinks that add to the waistline and the sweets that may taste delicious but full of empty calories. It’s your body, it’s your health, and it’s your turn to make a decision to moderate your intake.
I Promise to Keep my Promises – What good is a promise if it is not heartfelt and sincere? Reflect on how different your life will be if your fitness goals are met. What is the point of stating a goal if your mind and your soul aren’t a part of that commitment? You already know if you’re ready to make and keep these promises. You owe it to yourself to keep a promise and stay on track. It’s your life and no one else’s but yours – so be honest with it, cherish it, nurture it, love it – and go live it!
And then… blaze a trail for the next generation.