There are things that you say and hear so regularly that the power behind the words has been lost. I can sense the detachment from people when I start talking about health and fitness as a lifestyle change. If your eyes have already glazed over reading this then you probably fit into one of these…

1. You really aren’t interested in changing anything. 2. You don’t know what a healthy lifestyle would even entail. I mean, who wants to just live off kale? 3. The concept is so daunting that your brain turns on autopilot and doesn’t give it another conscious thought.

I just happened to have three people readily available to run this idea by as I’m writing. The first, my husband, a seasoned athlete and eat-whatever-you-want-and-workout activist (2); the second, my brother, who has spent the last four years running successful fitness franchises (but has now turned to the world of Dairy Queens… we will save that for another day) and doesn’t-have-time-to-eat-healthy advocate (1); the third my cousin, who informed me he will be spending the next seven days doing the cabbage diet… to my disdain (3).

When I say lifestyle change I mean living better, being happy and feeling good.. these are not daunting tasks but small projects in the making. Living a healthy lifestyle is about finding: BALANCE. I don’t live off of kale, though I do actually like it. And I don’t drink diet soda because I don’t like it (and okay, it is actually pretty terrible for you) but I would not suggest to someone that enjoys it to never drink it again in order to have a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle change means that you drink enough water and you enjoy your diet soda in harmony with balance. Stop looking at health and fitness with an all-or-nothing approach and start looking at your life as a project. Your lifestyle is not going to change overnight, or next Monday but it can change if you treat it like you would any other project: setting an objective, breaking it down, and taking steps toward completion.

Objective:

Live better, be happy and feel good.

Breaking it down

Now this will look different for every person but you need to first identify the reasons you aren’t living better(time, stress, financial strain, etc.) write them down. Next, you are the only person that can make you happy or unhappy so what barriers are you placing between yourself and your happiness (setting impossible standards, comparing yourself to others, not even considering your own happiness, etc) write these down as well. How to live healthier? If you start living better and happier that will take care of itself. If you try to change your eating habits or you try to start working out six days a week but you aren’t living better (you have no time or energy) and you aren’t happy you will repetitively set yourself up for failure to live healthier. You should currently have a list of items. Now take those items and put them in some sort of an order: if you don’t have enough energy then that should probably go to the top of your list because you’ll need that to work on the rest. If you don’t have enough time to even make this list then time management should go to the top.

Tracking it

You have to be able to see if your plan is working and reevaluate where you are struggling and how to fix it. More importantly you have to be flexible because, well, life happens. Tony Robbins said it best ‘stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach’. So once you’ve broken down and identified your project you need to keep track of how well it’s going. Since it is a project you need a deadline. Look at the items on your list and dedicate an amount of time that you will work on only this item. If it requires changing a habit (and let’s face it that is probably all of them) dedicate a full month. “But what if I have 8 items? That will take nearly a year!” Guess what? That year is going to go by with or without you. So you can spend nearly a year doing the same things you are now and feeling the same way you do now or you can spend it living better, being happy and feeling good.

Sweat & Smiles Melissa

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