On December 30, 2011, I took action against a poor health report card from my doctor by committing to a healthy lifestyle change…not a diet! It’s been an amazing year and so I wanted to reflect on my 2012 March 4ward; by sharing a few takeaways from the experience. Many of you have followed my journey on my personal Facebook page or my personal website, March 4Ward. For those of you who are hearing about it for the first time, this is more than about losing weight and hopefully this can give you a glimpse of how much more it became. Ultimately, I hope anyone reading this will be inspired to make 2013 the year for transitioning into a lifestyle committed to being their best self and living their best life!
Here are 5 key revelations from last year’s journey towards a healthier lifestyle:
1. There are more ways than one to transition into a healthier lifestyle…customize it to YOU!
Selecting the best program may take a few attempts or require a combination of several. It’s a personal journey and effort so, not surprisingly, requires a personal assessment before you begin. I knew this was going to rock my world because I hadn’t worked out for almost ten years! Thus, I put my strengths to use and looked at things methodically and conducted some self actualization; to determine best course for success. I assessed perceived strengths by others, my shortcomings, every previous failed attempt to get healthy; to determine how I got in the way of my own success. This process resulted in a better understanding of myself and a methodical plan I felt comfortable with that I believed would yield success. This investment of time in this step, gave me ownership over this journey which felt empowering.
2. The journey does not end when goals or deadline are met.
A lifestyle is an ongoing journey so transitioning into a new one requires a lot of patience and the realization that it never ends. You’ll set goals and deadlines, but ultimately it will be something you work at every single day, even when all the goals and deadlines have been met or have come and gone. It requires gentle discipline. . .something I’ve become very familiar with and promote. Here are just a few things I learned on habits alone which reminds me that I will always be working on sustaining the healthiest lifestyle I’ve created and am working on every day:
New Habits – It take 3-4 weeks consecutively to create a new habit, at least 6 months to feel comfortable with it, a year for it to feel natural and I’m guessing at least another year to integrate it into my daily living.
Old Habits – Breaking them is similar to breaking up with someone. They come creeping back into your life, just as things are going so well for you. They appeal to your need for something familiar and before you know it, you’re together again and not sure how it happened. You then go through the guilt of accepting them back followed by the stress and anxiety of having to break up – again. This roller coaster can go on for a very long time. However, the more aware you are of your weaknesses, the faster you’ll be at breaking up with them without a negative impact.
3. The more progress you make, the more “life happens” to deter it.
Essentially life happens (an unforeseen event requires you to extend a trip, you are laid off, you take ill, etc.) and the key to a successful transition is knowing how to respond when it does. I’ve had some rough patches on my journey and after each one, I assessed my response to them. I learned that I easily give up on my needs to help others not necessarily from 100% altruism, but because it was an easy way out or perhaps I became uncomfortable with my own success. A lesson learned: Never compromise when your health and well being is concerned. Set expectations from the beginning and make the commitment to yourself. Note that it may need to be adjustments to your routine, but at least carve out some time for yourself so that you remind others and yourself, that YOU matter and YOU are worth the investment.
4. A lifestyle change takes a village.
Determine the kind of support and encouragement you need, and let it be known. I could be a very private person and the only way for me to succeed was making it public. By including those in my life to be a part of it via Facebook or a personal website, it held me accountable. I knew the overachiever in me would need to succeed when others were watching. I used this weakness as a strength. Or as my brother would say,”used my powers for good and not evil”! Ultimately, it wasn’t for the personal accolades but more of a process in my journey to help me continue. Despite what people may think, given the gift of time I afforded myself; it was tough, challenging and difficult. To say this while having only ME to contend with – no job, no husband, no kids; gives me so much respect for those with any of those much less all three! However, I also know it has been done; it CAN be done but it requires support. Once you commit to the journey to a healthier lifestyle, then make it known with your village and don’t be afraid to ask for the help. For example, if you have kids and husband; tell them about your healthy goal and have them share/participate in the journey. That’s the only way I can see it becoming sustainable. Remember, it’s a lifestyle change…not a diet…so how can you make a lifestyle change without including the things and people in your life?
5. Don’t wait for inspiration, be the inspiration.
One of the key success factors in this journey has been that I took charge of my life. I didn’t worry about anyone but me. It was hard at first to get in the right mindset because I felt a bit selfish, but when I realized that that was one of my fundamental issues – low self worth; the light came on. I started to work at not worrying about what others thought about the decisions and choices I was making on this journey. As I progressed, it got easier over time to be okay with putting myself first. Before I knew it, my success shared with others became inspiration for others and that has been one of the greatest rewards. What a gift it is to say you are an inspiration to others in living healthier or making steps towards being a better version of themselves. I continue to live my life according to the premise that instead of looking for inspiration to change or trying make others change; be the change…be the inspiration! I have always had an inherent passion for helping others, but who knew that by helping myself I would in effect fulfill that passion?!
I’m still in the stage of trying to sustain the new habits in this healthy lifestyle change and anticipate another year until it becomes natural. Until then, I march 4ward and continue to remind myself that progress IS perfection! Thanks for being a witness to my life’s journey and I wish each of you much success on yours. Remember, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support from those in your life….that includes ME!