Have you ever bought a gym membership with strong intentions of gaining health and losing kilos only to discover that the only thing you are losing is the money out of your account? There is so much variety these days with how to exercise in a fun and effective way including short easy to achieve workouts, but with so many people claiming poverty when it comes to time, achieving our wellbeing goals is often easier in theory than it is in practice.
Wellbeing starts with an idea and is continued when we set small achievable goals and continue to pick up where we left off on the days that we fall behind. Recently I did my own beginner yoga programme as a way to support my clients and experience exactly what I expect of them. The results surprised me. I had made the programme as accessible and as easy as I could because I have seen people come to me time and time again who begin yoga but can’t keep it up. The first week required 14 minutes one day and five minutes another day and could be done wherever (no need to drive to a gym or studio). Each week after that the requirements increased by small amounts. By week two I had already fallen behind. I managed to stay on track, but I learned a lot along the way.
Here’s what I discovered:
If it is important enough for you to begin a new health goal — it is important enough to complete it
So often on a Sunday night we say we are going to be healthier the following week only to put our health goals in the ‘too hard basket’ by Tuesday. Usually this is because our lives are so full that there is no room to add a new goal. When we finally get time to rest or play, we don’t want to strive for something new. At the outset of setting your health goal, know that it is common to fall back into old habits. This is fine if we are prepared. Every time you hear that negative mental chatter that says you don’t have time or it’s too difficult, or it’s not that important after all, remember that if it was important when you set the goal, it is equally as important when you hit the first hurdle. Don’t let hurdles be the end of the road.
If you add a challenge or goal to your life — you may have to remove a negative habit in order to make space
As soon as you hit the first or second hurdle and that negative talk kicks in, take the opportunity to remove something from your life that is leaching your time or energy. When the beginner programme became too much for me to fit into a very busy week, I decided to get up earlier. When the alarm sounded however, I was hitting the snooze button in need of more sleep. I realised it wasn’t time that I needed, it was energy. I needed to remove negative effects on my sleep and I needed to add more nutritious food to my diet. From there I gained the energy levels to do what I had set my mind to do — complete a five week beginner yoga programme.
Do a small bit on many days – rather than giant leaps once in a while
This is huge, and a great way ensure your new goals become a part of life, just like brushing your teeth every morning. Exercising for 20 minutes regularly is much better than 60 minutes once in a while. Cutting out one unhealthy food choice and including one new one is better than clearing all of your beloved food out of the cupboards. If you do choose larger goals, or longer workouts that’s fine too, but sustain the effort every week for at least six weeks. Rather than overload your nervous system and body with a gigantic change, be gentle as you make these changes and they’ll be more likely to stick.
So stick to your guns, count the small wins and don’t let hurdles be the end of the road.