I have made the decision to focus my work and move on from the health and fitness world – where I loved exposing others to exercise and healthy practices in the great outdoors. But before I do there is one final health and fitness message I feel necessary to share with all. In truth, it is probably the most important and maybe the only message I feel you need to know.
First let me explain something. I studied animal behaviour and habitat and as a result spent over two decades in park and trail management. I never expected to work with humans directly except providing a space for them to enjoy nature. In time I realized more motivation was needed and I developed outdoor programs to show people all they could accomplish and enjoy in the great outdoors. This was further developed into all the health benefits of nature and our environment. But remember I really studied animals.
So it became really interesting to me when everyone was seeking my direction as to what they should do for fitness, weight loss, exercise and even what to eat. My question was “what do you like to do and eat”? Many didn’t really think about it. Others dowloaded diets and workout plans from the internet and followed them religiously for a week or two, maybe three and then found it too much. No one had any idea of what they liked to do, they only wanted to know what someone else thought they should do.
I realized we had lost sight of our instincts. I studied animals who’s every move was based on instincts and basically based on doing whatever they felt was right at the moment. It hit me, as humans, we look to everyone else for answers on what is right for us, besides ourselves. We have been trained with all the easy access to information to stop listening to what our own bodies are trying to tell us. We often don’t even know what we like and what makes us happy. We also believe that if it is to improve our life, it has to be hard, we probably won’t like it and it is going to take a ton of willpower. So not true.
So here comes my advise, the only thing I believe you really need to know when it comes to health and fitness, the only thing you need to do…QUIT DOING WHAT YOU DON’T LOVE. Let me rephrase that. Figure out what you love and do that! I know it sounds very idealistic and too easy, but hear me out for a second.
Your body is not going to create a habit of anything you don’t truly like doing. You don’t realize that using willpower and making or forcing yourself to do something daily is causing so much stress on your body that not only are you going to do more harm than good, your body is going to be constantly fighting you to stop. Something that is causing you to push yourself day in and day out is doing just that. When you don’t have fun or love doing it, it is going to use all your resources and leave you with nothing in the tank. There is a time and place for pushing yourself but it is not here.
Your body is smarter than you think and it is going to do things to make you stop, before you completely wear yourself down. That’s usually the point when we think we failed and get down on ourselves for lack of commitment. We feel we have no willpower and remind ourselves how we never stay at anything. Well, it’s a good thing, you weren’t meant to do what the internet told you. You are meant to do what feels right, what makes you enjoy movement, makes you enjoy healthy food and makes you want to do it day in and day out, over and over forever. That can only be the things we love to do.
You know what’s funny about all of this. Rarely do we ask ourselves what we truly enjoy doing, eating, having or thinking about. We assume that if we like it, it is bad and if it is good for us we probably won’t like it. But that is also not true. I used to begrudge some days going for a run when I was training for something. Until I got too sick for many years to do so. Now, I enjoy each run, no matter how short or rare, because all of a sudden I can appreciate how much I enjoy doing it. I now take the time to check my thoughts before a run and be sure I am in appreciation mode. Because the second I say “I have to do this” my body works against my mind and either slows me down, makes it hard or encourages me to stop. If we give ourselves a chance to ask whether we really like something or not, sometimes we may even realize we like it more than we acknowledge and may enjoy doing it even more.
On the other hand, there will just be exercises and food that you don’t enjoy and for some reason feel like you should. Don’t fight it or force, it just may not be for you. I know many who love Zumba. I wanted to love it, people have so much fun doing it. Yet I tried it many times, because I thought something was wrong with me if I didn’t like it, when so many did. Silly to think I tried to force something just because it was right for others. My only disclaimer here is that you should try it, if you haven’t, because there is no harm in trying everything once. There is no better way to find out what you love.
We do similar things with foods we just don’t enjoy. Just because it is good for you doesn’t mean you were meant to eat it every day or love it. We are all different including our taste buds. If we spent more time focussing on eating the good foods we loved then we would develop a whole new approach to food and eating and our bodies would respond willingly. Like our ability to move, food is also a blessing. It is not meant to be the evil addictions we see it as. We all enjoy different foods and the only way to increase and improve the healthy foods is by eating the ones we love. There is no point trying to muscle down a recipe or ingredients we dislike. Not only will you be more likely to indulge in bad foods as a result, you certainly will not continue to improve on your nutrition plan as you go. Your body wants you to enjoy making new, healthy changes. My best advice here is to start a list of fruits and vegetables you love on your fridge and add to is as you think of more. It will be the first thing you see when you go to the fridge as a reminder, as well. Its a great way to stop forcing meal plans that don’t work for you and focus on the good foods you do like and eat more of them. But, only you can tell yourself what those are.
And once in a while an indulgence that you treat yourself with can also be a good thing. Save it for special occasions and for goodness sake enjoy it. Another funny human trait is that we make ourselves feel guilty anytime we do something we actually enjoy. Of course you don’t want to have a sundae every day. But when you do make the decision to do so, at least enjoy it. Your body craved it because something about it made you feel good. So milk the feel good feeling for all its worth. Feeling guilty about it will only make you feel bad, take away any good that could have come from the treat, increase your stress hormones and probably make you emotionally eat more. If you love it and you made the rational decision to have it – THEN ENJOY IT!
My basic point is that when we focus on the things we love we are more likely to do them more and more likely to create a healthy habit. And the more good things we realize we love, the more healthy habits and the more positive changes we can create in our lives. Our animal instinct is to do what we love, because our bodies will do it well and it is also the right decision for us. No one can know exactly whatis right for you, but you. WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU IS SOMETHING YOU LOVE.
So do things that are good for you that you love and love what you do that is good for you…that is the secret to your success when it comes to health and fitness. My work here is done!