Harvesting Your Fitness Garden

Over the summer we’ve been using the metaphor of a garden to represent your fitness and health goals. In June we looked at how you “planted” the seeds of success, in August how you “weeded”, and now it’s time to harvest.

We reap what we sow. If I want a healthy life then I have to do something to get it. Too often I run into clients who tell me how much they want to be fit yet are not willing to make exercise and healthy eating a priority. They continue with the same ole same ole expecting it to be different. They spend a bunch of money buying the latest gear and don’t use it. They exercise sporadically or eat well some of the time but can’t seem to get it together enough to make a dent in their goals. Then they give up and blame age, location, work, family, friends, the weather … you get the picture.

If you decided to plant a fitness garden this summer it is time to harvest. Now is the time to take stock of how well you did, reward your efforts, and make plans for the next phase of your garden. According to my Aunt and Uncle (excellent gardeners) the work you do in the fall (after the harvest) is just as important as the spring (during planting). Here are some things to consider as you “harvest” your fitness garden.

First, how did you do? Did you reach your goals? Did you get close? Do you feel you gave it your best effort? Where could you have done better? This is a time to honestly, without judgment, evaluate your work. What worked for you and what didn’t?

Second, it’s time to take the answer from #1 to determine what you want to do differently. Did you do ok on certain days but struggle with your schedule on others? Did you get your diet right except for weekends? Did you find you could maintain with some friends and not others? Then determine what you will do differently to meet your goals.

Third, determine what you new goals are. Have you decided your original goal wasn’t what you really wanted? Have you decided to participate in an event, like a 5k or long kayak weekend? Is there a new sport or class you’d like to try? Write it down, find a buddy, get the gear you need, and get started with a new dose of motivation.

Once you have an idea of what worked, what didn’t, where you were successful, and what you’d like to change for the next round, it’s time for rewards! What did you decide you’d get if you made your goal? At what levels were you willing to reward yourself? Did you offer yourself a consolation for efforts that didn’t quite reach where you want to be? Allow yourself to savor and honor your efforts. You worked hard. In life it doesn’t always go well and isn’t always easy. It is your ability to make it through the ups and downs that determines success.

Enjoy the journey!

Endings and Beginnings

Here we are at another year end. How was your’s? Did you meet some goals? Re-evaluate others? Did you reach what seemed to be an impossible challenge? Did you fall short of an important task? 

Spend some time reflecting on your year. For many we are very good at coming up with what needs to change, creating the goal, and then moving through it or beyond it without a way to measure our progress. All movement, even the ones that feel backwards, is progress. Here’s a worksheet to help you reflect on your year and get ready for the next year of your growing wisdom.

What do you want more of? 

 

What do you want less of?

 

What needs a small change? 

 

A big one?

 

Who do you want to be in the next year? 

 

How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?

 

What rewards you for your efforts?

 

How will you re-evaluate your progress throughout the process? (daily, weekly, monthly, project based, etc).

 

What does success look like for you?

 

Glancing back at the above – what else needs your attention?

 

And are these goals truly yours?

 

Repeat this process as needed. Remember it’s precision not perfection and the journey is what matters most.

Stay Motivated

When people hear what I do for a living they tend to grab a part of their body – one they are not particularly fond of – and say, “what do I do about this?” which is then followed by, “ I know I should, but…”, which can then be followed by_________ (you fill in the blank) – excuses.

We know what to do, our bodies tell us they like to move. We watch it, read it, hear it, but we choose not to, why? We know we will feel better, we know we will look better, and we know we will build confidence, which will lead to many positives about ourselves, so why don’t we move?

What it really comes down to is: change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.

If you are going to make a change in your life. You have to be ready for discomfort. At least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Once you have convinced yourself you are ready for change you must determine who you are changing for. The obvious answer may not be the real answer. Deeply look at your motivation, are you the reason for the change, or is a parent, spouse, doctor, sibling, friend, etc. Is it someone else’s idea or voice you hear? If it is not you; commitment is likely to wane. Next determine why you want to change. As with the question of who, why is a critical factor in realizing a goal. Determine your why. Get passionate about it. Taste it, feel it, begin to live it. Immersion into an idea is supported by research and will lead to change. In other words, find as many ways to support your new lifestyle, new activities, new thoughts, rewards, support, new ideas about how you could change your habits to support your new direction. The more pathways you create in your brain to support this change the more likely you are to succeed. As Mary Kay Ash was famous for saying, “What the mind can believe, it can conceive.” Believe with every cell in your body and it will manifest.

Motivation is a tricky component to reaching a goal. It can be so strong one day and absent the next. This means you must constantly find ways to motive yourself. You must be creative here… no pressure right? It can be very simple. Decide that today I am going to walk for 20 minutes, and then look for ways to fit it into your day. Can you wake up a bit earlier, walk over lunch, after work, with your children or partner, is time critical today – do you need to break it down into increments? Look at the number of possibilities you have to reach the goal of walking 20 minutes. Enlist a friend or a supportive person to help make sure you reach your daily goal. (We will be discussing goal setting next week).

If you can step outside your comfort zone, make sure you are driving the change, and determine why you really want to change. Once you have done these two activities you have created a solid start to reaching your goal. Add passion and attention to your daily habits mixed with a lot of positive feedback and you’ll be on your way. Motivation will come and go, but you’ll be ready – you are now motivated to stay motivated!