I am skeptical, but also excited to be writing this blog. I say skeptical because I have not quite learned how to follow through with pursuing health yet. So I am really writing from a perspective of looking for ways to stay motivated and reflecting on what has and has not worked for me.
Maybe you’re reading this and have met your health goals and are doing great at living a healthy lifestyle, props to you! Maybe you’re reading this because you, too, need some advice for how to stick with a life of health. Or maybe you are somewhere in the middle, I think we are all on a journey throughout life, all in different places, but ultimately wanting to be healthy and to thrive in our time here on Earth.
I would say I am on a journey to healthy living, it has just seemed to be a long one. I didn’t really grow up athletic or eating healthy foods. It was definitely well balanced between time spent running around/moving and playing more mild activities and my mom always made us eat a vegetable with dinner, but no one in my family is particularly small, so I wasn’t the skinniest kid. But even in high school, I played some sports, but was never pushed or motivated in any big way. That went with me to college and then came the freshmen 15. I saw a study that said 52% of first year college students gain up to 15 pounds. I fell victim to this living in a dorm and eating mostly fast food. As I reflect, the cycle started that year and goes something like this:
- Want to make a change so you go to the gym, classes, play sports, run, etc. Super motivated.
- This gets really hard and results aren’t really happening so it slowly tapers to no gym time, etc. Losing motivation.
- Feel bad and beat yourself up for giving up. No motivation.
- Gain weight or lose diet.
This may not be that common and could just be me, but this cycle has sort of repeated itself in my life since that first year of college. And overall it can be really hard on you when you repeat this cycle, mostly because you aren’t being kind to your body and lose self esteem as the cycle continues. (Side note: I am no scientist, nutrition expert, or even an athlete who knows anything technical about this, I am just speaking from my own experience.)
Since then, my weight has fluctuated, as has my relationship with my body. I want to be healthy, I want to have more energy, I want to build endurance, I want to squeeze into smaller sizes, but I don’t really want to work out every day, eat like a rabbit, and wait impatiently for results. So how do I motivate myself? Here are some ways that I hope to be better about when trying to stick with my goals:
1. Make goals and refer back to them
This may seem like an obvious one, but honestly I haven’t really done this. All I know at the time is that I am unhappy so I need to change something. Writing down goals can help you stay on track when you lose sight of why you’re working hard or making sacrifices and also allows for small victories when meeting those goals. I have tried to stay away from a number on the scale and think more tangible such as: having more energy, running for 3 minutes straight, feeling better about the way I look, eating meals that make me feel energized not bloated, etc.
2. Find an accountability partner
Some people think this is over the top and don’t want to involve someone else in their personal struggles to stay healthy, but I can say this has done wonders for me! Having Amy, who is “goals” when it comes to the healthy lifestyle part, encouraging me and willing to workout with me has helped a lot. It can be hard to be vulnerable with even her, as my best friend, especially because I feel like she has already arrived. But it has also given me a new perspective on what health means, which isn’t a certain look, but rather honoring our bodies and strengthening them through proper nutrition and exercise!
3. Listen to your body
I used to think this was a weird thing to say, listen to my body? But I understand it now! Our bodies tell us when something is wrong or right with pain, pleasure, and chemicals in the brain. We rely on our bodies to do everything for us, and we know when something isn’t right. This also applies to our limits physically and our appetites. When we stop working out because it is hard, but it isn’t necessarily hurting our bodies, we are giving up. And when we eat because we are bored, other people are eating, it’s meal time, etc, we aren’t paying attention to when our body is saying “I’m hungry” or “I’m full” or “I don’t like that”. When we pay attention, we can feel what we need to do. This is a hard one for me, especially with food because I am used to eating a certain way, so to not eat my whole plate, or stop eating because my stomach hurts require pausing and listening, which is new to me.
4. STOP comparing
Hear me when I say I am preaching to myself here. This is my biggest battle and biggest weakness. I see what other people are capable of, how they look, how they eat junk food yet still look good, how they can run longer or lift more, the list goes on, and I feel defeated. I automatically think I can’t be like them so I may as well give up. This has caused me to stop pursuing health so many times before and it is poison! We are all different and will never be the same, we all have different goals, different needs, we are just different! No sense in trying to be like someone or compare to someone that we can never be, we are meant to be us, just as God made us.
Learning our own goals, limits, and needs can help keep us motivated to keep going and see results. This is an every day battle for me, as I don’t feel like taking the extra time after a long work day to workout, but it’s the journey I am on. And as I pursue physical health and wellness, I am pursuing spiritual wellness, too, first and foremost, might I add. I hope this was encouraging to you in your walk with the Lord and journey to wellness, leave any comments below on tips and tricks you’ve found to be successful!