It seems that everything we see points to fit, toned, “perfect” bodies. Movies, MTV, magazines, your best friend who has the extra time in her schedule to work out 4 hours a day at the gym. It is little wonder, then, that eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (AN) or binge eating distorder (BED) run rampant through adolescent groups, although I think they are common in any age bracket; or a sense of helplessness, even willful refusal to aim for a healthier lifestyle.
Let’s face it. The choices are limitless. The overwhelmed feelings many people experience in the face of needing or wanting to improve their health and/or lifestyle adds to their frustration and may just push them back onto their sofas.
So here are some ways of sorting through the mess, the media, and the needs/wants without becoming overwhelmed.
- Prioritize your needs, then your wants. Health issues ought to take precedence over perceived ideal body image.
- Establish goals using the SMART principles.
- Tackle one habit at a time.
- Tackle the easiest habit to change first; over time, the ones that are hardest will become easier and more manageable. As you develop healthier habits in one area, others will follow.
- Take a deep breath when you fall off the horse. Don’t worry. It won’t kick you. You’re the one who kicks yourself! Instead, get back up on your horse and resume your healthy habits the next day. There is no perfect/right time to start back up. Just do it!
Once you have chosen which goal to tackle first, decide how you want to go about accomplishing it. We all have limitations. I’m a part of a group mainly composed of women who hold jobs and/or are busy moms. They don’t have a whole lot of time to dedicate driving to a gym. So many of them grab up DVDs like TurboJam. On the other hand, some business people might find it easier to start/end their day with a visit to a gym on the way to/from work. Do what you really love most!
Also, keep in mind what sort of environment will help you meet your goals most successfully. Yes, we have limitations, but we also have drives. For me, being home means that I’m less likely to do a workout but more likely to cook a healthy meal. I have to hit the gym. For others, being at home might be the best, most comfortable way for them to get their workout in as they do not like others watching them, but they might compromise by eating out more frequently (and choosing healthier menu options).
Finally, if and when possible, consider asking for help from your other half/family/friends/community support group. These people are the backbone of our support groups, and those most willing to lend a hand to help you stay on track. Maybe a friend chooses to take up a weight loss goal with you, or will watch your child in exchange for some help shopping for healthier meal options. Maybe you get together with your mom to spend an afternoon or two canning those vegetables you planted. Perhaps you carpool to the local farmers’ market. Perhaps get the community to start a garden. Whatever it is, ask for help and be willing to assist someone else in return.
Most everyone wants to be healthier; many people just are not sure how to go about it. No matter what the TV commercials say, there is no one right way to go about changing poor habits into healthy ones. It is more important to focus on changing bad habits into good ones than adhere to the often strict requirements of famous diets and prearranged exercise regimens. Most often, we do not have the self-control to start out on a strict diet or exercise plan; but as we develop healthy habits, these become more feasible.
Listen to your body! You know it best! Remember that the ideal image advertised to the general public is not healthy; in fact, it is most often sick. Focus on how you can improve your overall health instead. If that means losing weight, great! But watching the numbers drop on the scale is not the only indicator of health and wellness. Next time you get down about how you look in the mirror, think of how much better you feel!
Here are some gymnastics inspired workouts from the American Council on Exercise.