Contributed by our good friend, Debra Atkinson
There’s no better way to say it—healthy choices are trending!
All around the globe more people than ever are consciously making choices about the food they eat and getting more exercise. That’s great news. Both because it means that we’re healthier as a species and because you will encounter less resistance and more support on your health journey than at any other time in history.
Resistance is important because whether you choose to start on your health journey or you have to make those changes you will encounter resistance. Simply put, change is hard, even if you want it. Let’s look at how it can make us stumble and what we can do about it.
The first thing people change on the health journey is diet. That means more healthy fats, reducing sugar, and eliminating processed foods—even if you’re excited, it creates internal and external resistance.
If you’ve been conditioned potentially your whole life to celebrate, mourn, reward, and sooth with foods that didn’t serve your health. It’s understandable that you’ll experience some resistance to change.
You’re surrounded by the cake pushers at a birthday party or a client brings you their grandma’s homemade cinnamon rolls and “you have to try one.”
What about when your plan is to exercise 30 minutes over lunch and your colleagues urge you to try the new BBQ spot instead and if you don’t go you’ll be the only one who says no—that’s resistance.
You’ll face resistance when you’re beginning an exercise program, or when push comes to shove in your daily life. When you’re just starting (or restarting), you may have doubts or worry when you don’t see the results you want right away.
The truth is, even though health is trending, it’s not the norm (yet). Half of our population hasn’t started their health journey so here are some helpful tips to keep you on track when you’re encountering resistance in your journey:
Grab a friend. Having others in the boat with you who are trying to change is much more helpful than going it alone, remember everyone has to deal with resistance.
It’s still ultimately up to you. Your choices will be unique to you, your health and fitness needs, and your pace. Pace yourself and listen to what you need to complete your goals.
This is your struggle. You’re going to move through stages of change and adapt new habits faster (and slower) than other people who might be going through changes alongside you. No one else has to live in your body, so do what feels right, and healthy, to you.
How to Keep Making Healthy Choices
Even as a committed exercise enthusiast who preaches the good exercise word, I still experience resistance after 36 years. An eye-opening road trip this past week has me reflecting on why I feel so good after spending 28 hours in the car in the past 5 days!
I exercised every single day exactly the way I planned.
It wasn’t easy, in fact, there were a lot of logistical obstacles and time constraints—sound familiar? I realized I’ve let resistance get the best of me too many days when I’m in my regular routine. I’ve let my work squeeze the exercise time into such a narrow window too many days in a row.
This great feeling from my daily roadside stretch is a feeling I intend to keep, so if you’re ready to get or keep a higher energy too, here’s how.
Pay attention to the choices you do have control over. That is the first part of this two-step process to making healthy choices everyday. It’s just a matter of simply paying attention.
We think we don’t have any choice over the meal served at a conference we’re attending, but we do have some choice about what we eat beforehand. Don’t be afraid to be the squeaky wheel and ask for special meal requests.
Remember that at a restaurant, the menu is simply a suggestion. An entree served with a sugary sauce can usually become a grilled entrée without sauce.
Make the choice that makes you answer “yes” to the question: does this serve my greater health goal? So many of us are juggling work, family, home maintenance, laundry, and meal planning—and those things are a part of the human experience for the majority of us.
Things in our lives that feel like obstacles we could very easily use as excuses are actually reasons to take better care of ourselves.
When you begin to approach each choice during your day with attention and intention, one by one, your healthy choices outnumber the ones that sabotage your progress.
Be attentional and intentional about your own choices with these ideas:
- Carry snacks with you in case what’s being served isn’t something you want to eat.
- Ask in advance what will be served.
- Use menus as a suggestion and ask for what you want.
- Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier so you can get some exercise.
- Ask a co-worker to go with you on the walk or to the gym over lunch.
- Move before you eat a full meal. Moving will make you feel better about yourself, have more energy, and ultimately, it helps us make better choices about the food we choose. A short 10-minute walk or stretch session is all it takes.