Author | DIAKADI Trainer, Polina Smith The New Year is often a time when we make health and fitness resolutions, with the number of people hitting the gym in January exponentially increasing. But as so many of us know all too well, the truth is that by February, most of us have lost sight of our goals, with our New Years’ intentions never realized.
A main reason that people fall so quickly out of their New Year’s fitness routine is because they are not seeing immediate results. We often think, “I’ve been busting my butt in the gym for three weeks, and I’ve only lost a pound, this is not worth it!” We become demotivated and so we stop working out.
In hopes to help people break out of the fitness rut and truly create a fitness routine that is sustainable and enjoyable, here are 9 Tips for Making 2012 a Healthy, Joyful a Fitness Filled year!
1. Keep tuning into how you feel from exercise rather than how you look
In our fast paced, results driven culture, we often want to see change NOW. And while, yes, surgery can provide that and participants who are on the biggest looser exercising 8 hours a day can achieve quick results, the truth is that for most of us, healthy, sustainable weight loss is a slow process. If we only focus on how many pounds we are losing, than we often get discouraged and give up.
If, however, instead we instead how we feel after exercise–how much better our mood is, how peaceful our mind is, how much more energy and focus we have, than we will keeping coming back to exercise because these mental and emotional benefits will be enough within themselves. The catch is that using these benefits as motivation will create a sustainable exercise routine that sticks, which is what, in the end, will bring the physical results we initially hoped for!
2. Nurture your body
How does it feel when someone says to you, “I hate you, I wish you looked different. If only you looked different than my life would be better…”
Not very good, right?
We often shut down, become lethargic, angry and resentful in the presence of this type of energy.
Yet so many of us of are carrying around these very beliefs about our own body and are still wondering why our bodies aren’t making the changes we hope for and why we can’t find the motivation to exercise or eat right.
If we are in a constant battle with our body, we will not be able create a sustainable and enjoy fitness routine.
But if we relate to our body with love, gratitude and compassion, then anything is possible!
Think about how good you feel when someone bathes you with genuine love, gratitude, and patience. Often, this fills us energy, motivation and joy.
Our bodies respond the same way.
Bathe your own body with love and compassion, and notice what kind of energy, motivation and lightness opens up.
3. Focus on the parts of your body that you Love!
We are so often caught in the vicious mind trap, “Oh if I just lost ten pounds, or if my hips were smaller, butt bigger, then I would…” The truth is, this kind of thinking is a vicious never ending cycle. How many people do you know who look amazing and are still complaining about one part of their body or another? Or how often do you think, “wow, I was so much skinner then, if only I could look like that again?” when at the time, you were thinking, “Man, if I could just lose 10lbs, I’d be so much happier.” As with so many of life’s paradoxes, it is when we let go of ‘needing’ to look a certain way, that our body actually changes.
Often, the more we obsess on how much weight we need to lose, the more weight we put on. If instead, we focus us on the parts of ourselves and our bodies that we love—maybe a shoulder blade, neck line, or shape of our hips–then we can find the space to be in harmony with our body, rather than in battle with it.
4. Find a form of exercise that you love to do and do it!
People often ask, “What’s the best kind of exercise to do?”
And the answer is: the one you’ll keep up.
Yes, you might burn more calories on the stair master or rowing machine than a yoga class or elliptical, but if you don’t enjoy doing these activities, then you likely won’t keep them up , making the amount of calories you burn eventually nil.
When, instead, we are motivated by joy and the love of the activity, rather than by calorie counting and will-power, we will effortlessly find ourselves exercising. Exercise will become part of a day that we greatly look forward to and this is what will ultimately make it a sustainable, life long practice.
To find a form of exercise that you’ll enjoy, I encourage you to try out a new class or think back to activities that you enjoyed as a kid. Perhaps you loved playing soccer in high school, then look into joining a local recreational league, or maybe you’ve always wanted to try a Zumba class, this January, go!
There are so many amazing sources of exercise out there: Pilates, Yoga, Spinning, Running, Swimming, Zumba, Dance, Martial Arts, Qi Gong, just to name a few—this January, I encourage you to try a least three new classes and see if any stick! Keep searching until you find an activity that you really love, I promise it’s out there, and once you find it, you’ll be so grateful you did.
5. Weight loss is 80% diet – So Eat Delicious, Natural, Non-Processed Foods!
What the Biggest Loser doesn’t show us is that the participants living on the Biggest Looser Campus are experiencing huge amounts of weight loss because they are exercising and eating healthy, delicious food in good proportions—there’s no McDonalds or Wendy’s next to the gym.
Exercise has incredible benefits, including lowering blood pressure, increasing energy and mood, clearing the mind and strengthening the body, but if weight loss is a main goal of yours, eating a healthy diet is what will make the biggest impact.
Here’s the number one thing you can do to transform your diet:
– Eat Natural, Un-processed Foods! Home cooked meals made of all natural ingredients will transform your health! It’s very hard to eat an excess of calories if you’re eating vegetables and meat prepared at home. Processed foods and restaurant prepared meals are often filled with excess oils and mysterious ingredients, exponentially increasing our caloric intake and filling our systems with foreign chemicals.
Things to watch out for while eating out:
– Aim for packaged foods with five or less ingredients, such as Lara Bars.
–Avoid packaged foods with ingredients you don’t recognize. In the words of Michael Pollen, “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.”
–Watch out for excess oils, found in things like salad dressings and sauces, as these can automatically turn a 200 calorie salad into a 1000 calorie filled meal.
As with exercise, notice how you feel after you eat. If you feel lethargic and stuffed, chances are, it wasn’t the best food choice. But if you feel energized and satiated, then you ate a meal that your body loved!
6. Take time to ‘Work In’
While getting your heart rate up and exercising hard is a great way to get in shape, just as important is taking time to ‘work in.’ Working in includes practices like meditation, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga, disciplines through which we can turn the gaze inward and find a place of stillness and calm.
In our go, go, go culture, our bodies are often under a lot of stress, which can lead to excess weight retention. Through ‘working in’ exercises, we can learn to more deeply listen to the needs of our body and find time for much needed rest.
7. There’s no one ‘Right Way’
Today, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for the latest fad diet, diet pill or new tool that will miraculously take the weight off. As a fitness trainer, I’m often asked, “what kind of exercise and diet is best?”
The truth is, there’s no one ‘right’ way to get in shape. But if you tune deeply into your body, you will learn to understand what food and forms of exercise best serve your individual needs.
All of our bodies are unique, some of us respond better to eating meat, others to a vegetarian diet, some of us thrive with yoga, while others from running. Only you can truly decide what diet and form of exercise is best for you. Tune into your body after you exercise and after you eat –notice how you feel and what signals your body is sending you. Let yourself be guided by these signals and you will come to discover the forms of exercise and food that your body will thrive from.
8. Seek Support
Often, the amount of information we have to decipher to understand what a healthy ‘diet’ is can be quite overwhelming.
And often, it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise when we are living busy, full lives.
Seeking support—whether it be a friend you make a commitment to exercise with, a fitness trainer, wellness coach, yoga instructor, or nutritionist, it can be very helpful to have someone you continually check in with, share triumphs and work through challenges with.
9. Enjoy the Ride!
Enjoy the journey of creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself! Notice all the positive changes that are happening along the way, not matter how small or unexpected they may seem.
I love hearing clients say, “Polina, for the first time in years I walked up the stairs without getting out of breath!!” Or, just last week a woman shared, “Polina, I cut out processed foods, and for the first ever, I didn’t have menstrual cramps—that was so unexpected!”
As Billy Polson, the owner of DIAKADI explains, much like the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment, if we take the focus off of the end goal of weight loss and ‘enjoy the ride,’ we will reach the results we seek…. If we make living healthy enjoyable, we will keep at it.
To do help do this, Billy suggests reveling in the day to day, finding the meditation in the ordinary. “Go to the farmer’s market, find out about where your food comes from, get the story, talk to the farmers, it’s fascinating!” Billy also suggests, “Ride your bike to work, park your car father, or get off the muni a few stops…keep finding ways that you can make your day more active and fun without it feeling overwhelming.”
So here’s to enjoying the ride in 2012, may it be a healthy, fitness filled and joyful New Year!