Creating a lifestyle routine of healthy habits is not only ongoing (as our understanding of what is healthy for us continues to evolve), but it also involves a lot of strategy. Often, I let people know that it’s not necessarily the plan of attack that is most important, but the plan of getting back on the wagon when you fall off. Because you will fall off. In addition to that, sometimes getting your foot in the door is the biggest deal.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but in a coaching situation I will always validate barriers and excuses. It really isn’t important whether your reason for not engaging in healthy actions is because of your kids, your fatigue, or your laundry. The issue is that the healthy habit isn’t fitting into your life. So we can acknowledge that you are being held up, and instead of dwelling on that, we can move on with a plan to get things moving in the right direction again.
Did I say this was easy? I hope not—I think the concept of what to focus on is pretty simple, but the process of figuring it out takes intent, determination, and strategy.
As if I haven’t mentioned that I recently paid off my student loans (which I’m unabashedly proud of, btw)…I spent 6 months focusing on paying as much as I could toward my $30K in Sallie Mae debt. This required me to take on more extra work than I had been doing, and this squeezed out a lot of time I had previously used for my own wellness.
My fitness level decreased. My eating habits faltered slightly, and my stress level went to the moon. I kept myself on track by acknowledging it was all temporary, and telling myself that I could do anything for a short period of time. In April, when I paid off the debt, I decided to also rearrange my professional life. It’s happening now! Although, the transition is causing me even more work…I know this is temporary too.
My point is really that sometimes we have to focus on just getting started—we think long-term about what an ideal lifestyle would look like for us. We get wrapped up in it and overwhelmed by it, and then we become paralyzed and don’t do anything differently. Right now is a time when I really need to get myself started on a focused path again.
I’ll be honest. I’m a big chicken when it comes to trying new things in new situations. I am comfortable going to my gym (Midtown), but I cringe at the thought of trying a new class or walking in blindly to a new plan at the gym. I don’t mind change in general, and I realize new experiences catalyze our lives for the better. However, I still would rather bring a friend with me when trying one of those scary classes—like boot camp, group power, pilates, or even spinning (which I’ve gone to plenty of times in the past). Unfortunately, the bring-a-friend tactic has not worked out yet, and this kept me in my safe zone—the elliptical and Anusara yoga at Blue Lotus.
In the past month, because of the challenge Petra and I are doing (we committed to trying 10 new types of physical activity between July 4th and Labor Day), I’ve known I need to try new things. I’m also feeling the longer-term effects of not focusing on my workouts for the last 8 or 9 months.
So I finally went to spinning class and then a vinyasa yoga class on Saturday morning. And guess what? It was painless and comfortable, and I liked it.
How did I get myself to do it?
1. I didn’t commit—I told myself if it sucked I never had to go again.
2. I made a small goal—I didn’t do heated power vinyasa (which I anticipated would injure me or keep me sore for several days).
3. I did it on a day when I had time—Saturday morning was easy, and now it won’t be as big of a leap to go on a workday when more coordination and planning are required.
4. I wrote down my plan—I looked at the class schedule and highlighted classes I could fit into my schedule. I contemplated it all for a week (or two).
5. I went early in the morning—when I assumed it would not be as busy.
It worked! I’ve been back to spinning twice since then, and yoga once. I had to work really hard to break the ice, and I knew once I did (if I made the experience as easy as possible), I’d be likely to want to go back.
What are your strategies for getting yourself to try something new?