Ever been tempted to look at someone and decide they got the lucky genes, I have. Ten years ago, my BMI read overweight and my thighs applauded as I crossed a room.
I stayed active, attended the gym a couple of times a week and at the weekend my family and I cycled the disused railway track or swam at the pool. And I ate a healthy diet –most of the time.
People dream and often their dreams are audacious ones. You know the kind I mean; you’ve watched the Olympics on TV and wondered just how good it must feel to hurtle down a 100m track like Usain Bolt. Then next thing you’re at the park with your kids suggesting a running race because they’d love that, to discover after 5 metres that your big, full grown and somewhat padded frame no longer moves like it did at twelve.
Shortly after my failed 100m attempt I braved an objective look in the mirror and realised my legs were now a couple of links of pork sausages. The above photo taken five years after my youngest child’s birth shows that despite my best efforts my pregnancy weight gain remained. Being a Mum is the best thing that ever happened to me. However, the early years of motherhood swallowed me whole along with my own hopes and dreams. Life seemed unfair, I’d poured so much into my kid’s wellbeing and been left with no dreams and an out of shape body. Frustrated I knew I needed to make some changes. Perhaps if I acquired some big dreams and a strong body I’d find myself again.
How does a person develop a lasting fitness habit that helps them fulfil their dreams?
Here are four keys I’ve learnt:
Admit where you are at right now even if that means disappointment in yourself.
In the long-term reality becomes a friend because from the starting place of truth it’s possible to make changes for the better.
Get a vision
What will success look like to you? And how will you measure when you’ve attained it?
Be realistic, a photo of your favourite Fitness Models can inspire, but we’re each unique and no amount of diet and exercise will transform your body into someone else’s. Aim to transform your own body into its own personal best.
At the start, I decided success looked like three, one hour exercise sessions per week. I also kept a food diary, being in the healthy range on a BMI chart my objective.
Just do something, take action to do more than you currently do.
Struggling to know where to start? Most people can identify a time when healthy eating and exercise seemed to work. Maybe even gave some results. Great! What made it work and are you able to build upon that now. As the saying goes, make your good, better and your better, best.
Don’t go it alone. With so much information out there we need people who can break it down into bite sized chucks. Then we can learn how to gain the most from activities. Join a sports team, take lessons or invest in a personal trainer. The initial outlay may seem steep but valuable things cost and are subsequently cherished.
Fall in love with the process
Winston Churchill said that success can be defined in seven words, “Never give up, never ever give up.”
Let’s say you made an amazing start and you’re on your way. You ate the right things and worked-out hard this month. Then it dawns on you, those work-outs still leave you exhausted and when you look in the mirror you see no change there either. It’s tempting to believe that this stuff may work for someone else but not for you. I felt that way too.
Then I realised that somewhere along the way my goals got muddled. At the outset, I wanted a body strong enough to do some of the things I’d dreamed about, and somehow that morphed into being a certain weight and fitting a certain pair of jeans. It’s easy to get side tracked when the initial enthusiasm wears off and at these times it helps to remember why you started. Once I recommitted to the process of building a strong, healthy body, I didn’t look back.
How does a person who knows that success comes by persistence not lose heart?
The difference between success and failure is often down to persistence. Here’s a couple of strategies that help me:
I choose to see the process as enjoyable. To engage my senses and become more present during a workout. A few examples are; I listen to the rhythm of my breath, I pause to inhale the sweet morning air and let it satisfy my lungs, and I observe the sensation of weightlessness as I swim.
I’ve also learnt to be a little whimsical. When you allow yourself to do something playful, quaint or fanciful in an appealing and sometimes humorous way, that’s whimsy.
As a child, I became a superhero with nothing more than a cape and imagination. I could leap walls, take down the bad guys, save the world and accomplish this without ever leaving my kindergarten. Much has been written about how children learn to handle the world by trying on different personas. Perhaps this behaviour can serve adult lifelong learners too. For example, who doesn’t love new kit day? This Christmas I took my love of sporting apparel to the next level and purchased a limited edition Blacksheep cycle kit. Branded as the World’s Most Exclusive Kit, once sold it’s never to be seen again and in such high demand that it sells out in minutes. But Oh! The joy when I put that gear on. It’s like I’m back in the pre-school dress up box trying on my super powers.
A strong body can take you to new places and help you achieve new dreams.
Go on! Be objective, get a vision, take action, fall in love with the process. You’ll love the results.
Go live your best life!