There have been a lot of changes going on behind the scenes here. Some good, some uncomfortable, some necessary, and some surprising. Historically, I have NOT accepted change well. I resist it usually with every fiber of my being. I don’t like it. But something strange has happened lately with all these changes. Continue reading
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a math lesson. Trust me, you don’t want me teaching you math. Anyone who knows me will back me up on this one (right, Mom?).
No, this is going to be a comparison of two different mindsets when it comes to living a healthier life. I find that there are two approaches to changing bad habits, the subtraction approach and the addition approach. I’ve actually taken both approaches myself and in my experience find one is definitely better than the other. Because I want you to be successful in living a healthier life, I wanted to share the tiny difference between these approaches that can make a huge impact on your success.
The Subtraction Approach
I am going to be healthier by taking away all of the bad things in my life.
This is a common way to look at things, and technically it’s what you want to do. In with the good out with the bad, right?
Almost. This immediately sets up a feeling of deprivation and an “I can’t have/do that anymore.” It makes you feel like you’re losing a part of what was your daily routine and that can make you feel a little uncomfortable and maybe even sad.
You keep trying to tell yourself that it’s good, you’re getting rid of what made you unhealthy. You’ll be happier once this process is over. So, you start subtracting:
- The “bad” food you used to eat
- The lazy habits you had formed
- The time you used to sit around instead of exercise
- The social settings where you maybe weren’t the healthiest
- The friends or family who don’t fully support you
You might start to see a change in your health doing this, of course. You might lose weight, start to develop a regular exercise routine, but it still feels like you’re depriving yourself of things that once made you happy. Even if they weren’t good for you. You can start to pine for the way things were, especially since they are “off-limits” now.
And this can set you up for the relapse. A night of binging. A week of no exercise. Cheat meals/snacks/days. You know you’re being “bad” but you can’t seem to help yourself. And then you can’t help feeling guilty once it’s all over. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s no fun. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Let’s look at the other approach.
The Addition Approach
I am going to be healthier by adding good things into my life to crowd out the bad.
This might seem counterintuitive. You want to put more stuff into my life so that I’m healthier? How can I do that when most people/diets/health systems tell me I need to get rid of the bad?
It’s simple. Start thinking of things to add to your day that make you feel better than your older habits. You’re going to crowd out all the things that you used to do or eat so that you no longer have time or energy for those.
Now your days feel full and like you’re actively doing things to turn your habits around. You’re not taking anything away, you’re adding things like:
- More fruits and vegetables to each serving, crowding out the overly processed
- More activity in your day, life short walks, crowding out the time you used to sit around
- More friends and family who like the same healthy things you do
- More time focusing on what makes you feel good instead of what you used to do that was “bad”
At a glance, these two approaches might look similar. And to be honest, you’re doing a lot of the same things but by telling yourself that you’re adding to your life not subtracting from it makes it easier and more fun to keep making changes.
It’s just a tiny switch, but it makes a big difference. I’m not forcing myself to get rid of my entire life, I’m adding to it and changing things for the better. As you go, soon you’ll realize that the good has overtaken the bad and your lifestyle is healthier and happier.
So don’t focus on subtracting as much as you can to be healthier, add in as much good as you can and your health will follow suit.
What can you add to your life to be healthier?
I debated writing about this topic because I feel it can be a little bit like beating a dead horse, especially if you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time. But I decided to do it anyway because it’s an important message and it’s January.
What does January have to do with eating? Well, turn on your TV and watch any channel. The majority of the commercials are going to be about some diet or weight loss system. January is the month of resolutions and the beginning of many diets. Gyms have major discounts and are usually packed the first few weeks of the new year. Supplements, vitamins, pills, and all other weight loss tools/systems/plans are everywhere you turn. People and companies in the health and fitness realm know that you’re going to spend your money and they want to make sure that you spend it on their plan or product.
There are so many diets to choose from and it can be overwhelming to decide which one you are going to follow. All claim to have amazing results and some even tell you it can be done with minimal effort. It’s hard not to be drawn in with the before and after pictures, hoping that soon you can have your own beautiful after photo. So you dive in and pick a diet that you feel is going to give you the results you want.
I don’t want to rail against all the diets out there. That’s been done and I don’t feel the need to add to that noise. But I do want to tell you one thing that might sound a little contradictive to that sentiment.
To be more specific, don’t approach the new year with a diet frame of mind. A diet typically has a starting and an ending point. Once you reach your goal weight, you stop your diet and return to your regularly scheduled program. But if you return to the way you were eating before you lost the weight guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to regain that weight.
Which is why I want you to approach weight loss and this new year not with diet at the top of your list but a lifestyle change instead. If you’re truly serious about losing weight and getting your health on track, this is going to be a life long thing. This isn’t a 30-day program or a two-week transformation. This is going to be your day in and day out. When you look back on what you used to be and do, it should look completely different from the here and now.
Don’t let this frustrate you or dissuade you. I don’t want this to make you feel defeated before you start. I want you to feel empowered and ready to face what’s ahead. There are going to be tough days and there are going to be easy ones. There are going to be meals where the only thing you want to see on your plate is a Twinkie and there will be meals where you can’t wait to eat a whole heap of vegetables. And you know what? That’s life and that’s how being healthy goes. It’s a balancing act, a yin and yang, give and take.
So if you are starting this year with the goal of being healthier and losing weight, please don’t think of it as a finite time. Don’t approach your goal in the “diet” frame of mind. Focus on these three little things to help big change:
Small changes. Gradually change your habits so that you aren’t overwhelmed. Once you feel you’ve got one change down add another one. Keep doing this until you have completely turned things around.
Add not subtract. Instead of thinking of all the foods you don’t eat anymore, focus on all the new things you get to eat. New fruits or vegetables you’ve never tried or different recipes than the one you’re used to can make your new lifestyle feel fresh, fun, and exciting.
Know your why. Have a definite reason that you’re doing this and remind yourself of that often. And don’t worry about your reason. If it’s so you look good at your high school reunion this year or in order to fight heart disease, as long as it keeps you motivated, that’s all that matters.
Those three things can help you when the going gets tough and trust me it will. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up, it just means you need to put in a little more effort until you get to the easy parts again. And those easy parts will come, I promise.
I have been mulling this post over in my head for awhile now. I guess it’s been at the back of my thoughts for at least a few months, but I kept pushing it away. I didn’t want to deal with it and ignoring things always makes them go away, right?
If only it did.
So last week when I wrote about my theme for 2016, I knew that I would finally have to deal with this issue. If I really want to grow and mature I have to actually grow and mature. Profound thoughts guys, I know. But for me, it was kind of profound.
I’m not dying, in fact, no one is dying. No one is sick, nothing is horribly or awfully wrong. So don’t worry about that. But there is a big change coming for me and I’m a little nervous. I’m putting on my big girl panties and telling myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
I’m taking a break from running.
All of you reading this are probably cursing me because who cares if I’m taking a break from running? It doesn’t affect the vast majority of people and this isn’t a life-altering announcement. Except that it is. For me.
You have heard me rave about running and how it has given me so much. I am proud to call myself a runner and join the ranks of thousands who log their miles with their feet. I have talked about finally running a marathon, I love watching races, and I love getting outside and hitting the trail.
Until a few months ago that is. Lately, I have been struggling with my running. Instead of waking up excited to head out for my run, I’m dreading it. I find myself dawdling longer and longer before finally motivating myself to get out the door. At first, I thought it was just a down week. All runners have them. Those days or weeks where it’s just a little tougher to get out the door than usual. I thought it would pass, I would get back to my usual enthusiasm soon enough. But that enthusiasm hasn’t returned.
My immediate reaction was to just push through. I’m a runner. This is what I do. This is what I have done for the past eight years. This is how it is. I was just going to keep running and ignore that little voice in the back of my mind that was telling me something just isn’t quite right. And then Adam got a cold right before the new year.
He took a week off from running because he is much better at resting when he knows he needs it most. And because he likes to take any excuse to not run :). I still kept up with my normal running schedule, but I started to sleep in a little with him and go on my run later in the morning. Then I started to get the sniffles on my rest day and when I woke up on Monday, I did not feel like running. Even more than I had in the past few months. So I did something that I rarely if ever do: I decided not to run.
It was a little tough at first and I found a different workout to do inside just so I had some movement. But it wasn’t horrible and I found myself feeling ok about my decision. As it stands right now, I haven’t run in over a week. That’s the longest I’ve gone since I hurt my knee a few years ago. And I’m going to keep not running for the foreseeable future.
Am I giving up running completely? No. I am eternally grateful for everything that running has given me. It totally changed me inside and out and that is truly amazing. It’s because of that that I’m taking this hiatus. I don’t want to keep running until I totally hate it and I give it up for good. I want to find that feeling that I used to have and in order to do that I have to let go.
I’m also not giving up exercise altogether. This decision is opening doors for me to explore other areas of fitness that I had previously neglected. I’ve been doing Fitness Blender’s 5-Day Fit Challenge and I have been excited for every new day. I’ve missed that excitement when it comes to working out.
So what can you take away from this really long winded post? Just because something scares you or you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t mean you can’t change. You are not a tree. If you don’t like something get up and move. Switch directions. Try a new approach. I have no idea what my relationship with running will look like in the coming months but it will always be there, waiting for me.
Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?
Ahhh. A new year. Can you smell it? The resolutions, the goals, the promises, the hope. It’s all still pretty fresh just four days into 2016. I’m all about setting goals and intentions for a new year, but I want them to be something more fulfilling than lose weight, exercise more, be more organized. I want them to be specific. I want them to have steps that I can take to reach them.
I want them to be something that will make me and my life better.
So whether you call those resolutions, goals, or intentions, make sure you choose something to direct your attention at. It can really help motivate you to do new and better things.
Last year I chose a word to define my year. I picked one word and tried to make my decisions and choices with that word in mind. I chose passion and I think I did a fairly good job of putting passion into everything I did. I’m going to do a fairly similar thing this year, but instead of one word I’m going to use one question to frame my goals.
What’s the worst that could happen?
This isn’t a nonchalant “Eh, what the heck, let’s give this a go” type of attitude. I frequently don’t do things because I’m afraid of what might happen. Mainly failure. I hate to fail and that fear has held me back from trying or doing new things.
I want to approach this year with the idea that even if I do fail at something it isn’t the end of the world. At least I tried something new. And there is a really good chance that I won’t fail, that I’ll excel at my new endeavor and find new strengths and happiness.
So with that in mind, what do I want to do this year?
- Dive deeper into yoga (maybe even become certified)
- Expand my writing (maybe even some non-fiction works)
- Be stronger (physically and mentally)
- Nurture face-to-face relationships (the internet is great but so is being with someone in persn)
- Create new things (recipes, art, love…. anything)
There are plenty of things that I am ready to dive into and some of them scare me a little, but hey, what’s the worst that could happen?
What are you ready to try in 2016?