So often we treat our health like fads; we’ll do a 4 week diet, we’ll join a 6 week boot camp, we’ll do a 5 day cleanse, you get the idea. I’m not saying these things don’t have their place – they do, they are great at getting people motivated and on the right track, but to me health is so much more than a 4 week fad…it’s a journey.
A health journey really is about making changes to your lifestyle and assuming the role of student. It’s all about empowering ourselves to take control of our own health and make constructive changes. Everyones health journey is unique and different. Along my own journey I’ve learnt some key things that I wanted to share to help you on your own.
It’s a process.
In the world of health there is no such thing as a quick fix. Taking control of your own health is a process that will take time. There will be ups and downs, you’ll probably take a few steps back and have days when you feel down, but hey, it’s called a journey! Once you throw the quick fix mentality out the door you’ll realise that the changes you’re making and knowledge your gaining about your own body is going to empower you for life and those around you.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Ditch the quick fix mentality. A health journey is just as much a mental change as it is a physical. I find it really beneficial to have 10 minutes each morning where I just meditate or sit quietly focusing on my breathing. It may seem simple but having this time to slow down and reconnect really helped me stop racing through everything in life and appreciate the moments in front of me.
Everything is connected.
With all the heart specialists and lung specialists, ear, throat and nose specialists and countless other specialists, it’s easy to think that the body functions in separate ways. It doesn’t. Our body is one organism, meaning if we’re always getting sick it isn’t medicine we need to take, but we need to look holistically and consider how we’re nourishing our bodies, mind and spirit. Once we understand that everything is connected we can truly start to heal our whole selves.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Keep a diary for a couple of days/weeks where you record what you’re eating, how you’re feeling, what activities you’re doing and what you’re grateful for that day. Have a small table at the top of each page where you rank from 1-5 how your mood, digestion, craving and energy levels were that day. Over the course of a couple of days/weeks you’ll clearly be able to see what in your life nourishes you and what in your life depletes you. Ideally you will start to draw connections of how it is all connected.
Having a team is everything.
Of course you can read every paper, listen to every lecture and try every diet to see what works for you but having a team behind you is one of the most powerful influences in keeping you accountable and on the right track. When you’re feeling down or less than enthusiastic these will be the people who motivate and inspire you to carry on.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: It may take some time to build your health team and you may need to prioritise according to finances. Start by thinking about what you feel needs improvement in your life, it could be your nutrition, exercise, mental health, emotional wellbeing, once you identify what is most lacking start with that health professional. Having a team may also mean a community or support system to help you implement and sustain the changes you are making.
This is so important, you need to be clear with yourself about what you’re aiming for and what this is all trying to achieve. You’re goals will shift and change, they can start as small or as big as you want.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Write down your goals. I write down goals for the day, week and month. It gives you clear direction in your life and something to strive for. Whatever your goals make sure they are achievable, realistic and time bound.
Eliminate the word ‘fail’ from your vocabulary.
So often we think that because we caved and had pizza for lunch then we’ve ‘failed’. There is no such thing as failing; it’s all just part of that process. Having special treats is fine and should really be a joyful experience, not one filled with endless guilt. The most important thing is continuing in the journey, after you’ve had that treat carry on with the journey, don’t let it throw you off.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Treat yourself once in a while. Allow yourself to enjoy it, but just don’t let it become the norm. Keep your goals front and centre so when you’re feeling a moment of weakness you know what you’re striving for.
Self-care is at the heart of a health journey.
You’re on this path to take better care of you so that you can live your life to it’s full potential in a healthy and nourishing way. We often feel guilty about going for a massage or having a long bath, but it’s these moments of self-care and love that gives our bodies some time to relax, recharge and refocus. Making some big lifestyle changes can be really difficult but pampering yourself in ways that you enjoy is such a great way to show your body and mind a little love for all it’s hard work.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Ask yourself what does self-care mean to you and what can you do to feel healthy and balanced? Be sure to schedule these things into your life and make them non-negotiable. Self-care is just as important as any business meeting, as it is what is going to make you feel your best. Allow yourself to have breaks where nothing is planned. Make sure you are breathing and nourishing yourself to feel your best. Most importantly don’t compare yourself or make yourself feel guilty.
Knowledge is power but don’t let it consume you.
The further you go along in your health journey the more you are going to learn and expand your mind. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the new information you learn and start thinking that the entire world is just one big toxic trap. The thing to realise is you can’t live in a bubble and let it consume you, as long as the majority of your life is healthy then you’re making some great steps forward.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Being social and having healthy relationships is just as important to your health as eating organic. Prioritising and being clear about what the non negotiables are and what you can be flexible with is a great way to start.
Change the way you measure success.
So often we measure success in health depending on where the bathroom scales go down. What we need to learn is that weight is just part of the equation. We need to change what our measures of success are to truly be able to appreciate our progress. Maybe it’s the ability to climb 10 flights of stairs or maybe it’s getting a solid 8 hours sleep a night. Be clear about how your measure success and you’ll be able to truly relish in your accomplishments.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: This is where step 4 and your goals are so important. If you’re achieving your goals, then you’re successful. The diary in step 2 will also provide you with clues as to what isn’t working right so you can adjust your lifestyle to achieve your goals.
The 80/20 rule.
Simply put 80% of your decisions should be health orientated and 20% a little more indulgent. This point really ties into lesson 6. If we feel we need a special treat then as long as it’s not the majority of our diet and we are enjoying it in moderation, then that’s ok.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Pretty much lesson 6, but just to add a little more – allow yourself to enjoy that 20%. If you truly relish in the treat then you’ll feel satisfied, but if you inhale it or let the moment pass you by you’ll feel unsatisfied and craving more.
Listen to your body.
The healthier you become and the more you look after your body, the more in touch with it you’ll become and that’s really the ultimate aim. Our bodies are amazing and send us signals all the time; we just have to learn to read them.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Being able to read and respond to our bodies is the most important element in taking control of your own health. Keeping your diary from lesson 2 is a really great way to reflect on how your body is feeling and make changes accordingly.