I saw this quote recently and it got me thinking...notice how easy it is to put effort into something you enjoy or are interested in? And on the flip side, how difficult it is to stick to something if it really doesn't interest you or light your spark?
Effort: a vigorous or determined attempt
Interest: the feeling of wanting to know or learn about something or someone / excite the curiosity or attention of (someone)
I passionately believe that everyone has an exercise/movement they enjoy, it's just a case of finding that and doing more of it! I've had clients tell me they hate exercise, yet when we dig a little deeper it becomes apparent that there is something they love, they just hadn't framed it as "exercise". For example, walking or dancing. As a personal trainer, it is my job to create a program that meets the clients' needs and desires AND is also enjoyable and interesting for them so they continue to put 'a vigorous or determined attempt' into each session.
Nutrition is the same, if we can develop an interest in the fuel we consume and how it impacts us it may make it easier to continue to put a determined attempt in at making mindful and beneficial choices most of the time.
The world of health and fitness is very nuanced with so many factors at play, however, I think it is fair to assume that most of us know and understand that, as a society at large, it is important to eat well and move more, so why do we find it so difficult to consistently do it?
Most of us are living in a constant state of stress which has a massive impact on our health and wellbeing both physically and mentally, add to that the confusion around nutrition and exercise which just leads to a sense of overwhelm which again just adds more stress and so the vicious cycle continues.
We need to excite curiosity or interest about health so it will be much easier to make the effort to take necessary changes to improve - and ultimately feel better! How do we do this when we are perpetually stuck in the cycle above?
Step 1: Self focus. Take a moment to think about your health and wellbeing - even better, write it down. How are you actually feeling? Do you have regular aches and pains? Do you struggle with day to day movements or tasks? Do you lack energy? Do you have a low mood? Do you eat many plants? Do you tend to eat processed foods? Be honest with yourself, remove all judgment or possible reasons why it may be so, and just objectively write down how you are subjectively feeling.
Step 2: Choose one, start small and be specific. Looking at your list and just pick one. Don't overwhelm yourself thinking you need to make all the changes right now (I'm guilty of that too!) as you will just be pulled back into the stress cycle which we don't want.
Step 3: Possible contributors. Now using that one thing you have picked from your list, write out the possible contributing factors that could be leaving you feeling like that. For example, your lower back aches every morning when you get out of bed. List of potential contributing factors: sedentary job, wearing high heels all day at work, carrying heavy bag on commute, not drinking enough water, old mattress etc.
Step 4: First step. Looking at your list pick one that you can start to work on straight away and commit to it for the next week. Using the example above; if you have a sedentary job you may be able to commit to a 5 min walk at lunch time, or by parking your car further away from the office door so you have to walk a bit further each day, perhaps you could ask a colleague to join you - that added accountability works wonders!
Step 5: Note down the positive changes no matter how small. It is so easy to allow small positive changes slip by without much acknowledgement as we are too busy focussing on the very end goal, maybe taking that short walk with a colleague has helped you be more productive at work in the afternoon, you have more energy, you feel more connected to your colleague, you are happier, your lower back is easing. Noticing and noting down these little changes will help you stay interested in the persuit of that end goal and therefore easier to actually put the effort into continuing with it.