We’ve all been there. You wake up one morning and decide that this is it; you’re going to get fit and change the habits of a lifetime to become more active, outdoorsy and healthy. Then after the first day you’re already flagging and back to your old sedentary ways.
How do you keep that spark of enthusiasm to take regular exercise, eat well and have a more active lifestyle?
The key could well be the power of the mind, rather than physical ability. Here are some tips on how to think yourself healthy.
1. Have a goal. If you’ve got something in your mind that you want to aspire to, then try and keep that at the forefront of your mind. If you are just aimlessly trying to change your habits with nothing to aspire to, then it’s likely you won’t change at all.
2. Change one thing at a time. All too often when we turn over a new “healthy leaf” we try and change too many things at once – you might decide to cut out sugar and caffeine from your diet, go for a daily walk, quit smoking and take up yoga all on the first day, and more often than not, you’re doomed to fail. If you can just start small, say start going for a ten minute walk each day, then mentally you are more likely to succeed. When that becomes habit – add something else into your list.
3. Don’t put yourself down when you fail. We all fall off the wagon occasionally. It might be that you’ve missed out on a walk one day, or you’ve had a heavy night of drinking and eating to excess – but it’s ok. It’s actually healthy to be able to enjoy yourself and mentally it’s nice to take a break.
4. Get support. It’s great when you’ve got people supporting your goals. It may be that you get the family involved in your exercise plan – going out for long walks or swimming together. If you’re new to embarking on an active lifestyle you may feel talking to your GP is worthwhile. They will be able to suggest areas for you to focus on, and may be able to give you some goals and healthy eating advice. You might have a friend that you are getting fit with, or learning how to cook healthy meals. Doing these things with other people can make the task seem far less arduous and keep you focused and happy.
5. Think positive. It’s easy to get down on yourself when it comes to things like weight loss, healthy eating and exercise. You might kick yourself after succumbing to a chocolate bar, or you might beat yourself up because you couldn’t manage as many miles on the treadmill as the previous week – but we all have peaks and troughs. Remember that every small change is a positive and it’s okay to have a treat now and then. Staying positive for yourself will only help you stick to your goals.
6. Get enthusiastic about things. If you can have an interest in an activity then you are more likely to want to get out and do it. Some people drag themselves to the gym thinking all the time about how much they hate it. After a while they start to resent the fact that they are going at all and this inevitably means they don’t stick at it for long. If you can relish what you do then you will stick at it. It might be fell running, hiking with the family, going for a swim, but whatever it is, enjoy it.
7. Be happy. If you’re happy then you’re going to want to do more and have more enthusiasm to look after yourself. If you can think healthy, you’ll behave healthy and then when you are healthy, you’ll be happy.
8. Try some relaxation techniques. Some activities like yoga, meditation and pilates have all shown to be relaxing and good for the mind. Sometimes you need to clear your mind from all the trials of the day to begin to focus once more on yourself, and these activities can all help to do that. You might just want to find some time and be by yourself, or have a relaxing bath to unwind. All this can help you put things in perspective and will help you stay active and healthy in the long term.
9. Reward yourself. If your goal is to lose weight and you manage it, or you complete a race or a challenge you’ve set yourself, then it’s good to have a reward. You might treat yourself to a DVD or have an evening out in celebration. But if you can look forward to something at the end of the challenge then you’re more likely to achieve it.
10. Stick to your new habits. When you find that all your healthy living activities become habit – stick to them and enjoy your new mindset and healthier body.
by Jessica Ward
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