Saturday, January 11, 2014

tips and tricks to stay on track.

as i said in my last post, having the right attitude is key to changing my lifestyle. i've had to collect a few ideas to help me keep on a path to better health, as the journey isn't easy. here are a few things i'm doing to stay focused, maybe some of these tips will work for you!

1] tell someone about your goals [blog it!]
i think one of the best things i've done to keep myself focused was start this blog. not only so that i have something for myself to look back on, but to put myself out there and be 'public' about my challenge. i find that letting someone know that you've set a resolution or a goal for yourself ups your possibility of success. for myself i'm more likely to keep up on something if i let others know i'm doing it. lets take smoking for example..

i've been smoking off and on for years, and especially more so when i spent a couple of years on the night shift. i tried quitting on my own, and it didn't last for long. i tried quitting with my partner at that time, and as soon as they picked it up again so did i. when i got off the shift unfortunately i didn't leave the habit  behind, so in the fall of 2o12 i made it my goal to be smoke free by spring 2o13. i told everyone at work, and so.. i quit.. mostly. i'd still have one here and there, but after 'quitting' i could really feel the difference after having a smoke versus not having one. finally, in autumn of 2o13 i kicked the habit for good. i realized that the mild calming effect smoking had on me wasn't anywhere near worth the damage it was doing. i am slowly coming to the same point of realization with kicking the habit of eating processed foods.

2] write it down.
no matter what it is that i want to accomplish, i find i'm much more likely to achieve the goals that i have written down. seemingly even if i forget to look back over what i wrote until some time later, when i do find what i had written it seems it had already come true. as if the act of putting thoughts into words is the very first step of putting them into action.

i'm sort of using this blog to cover the first and second point, so that what i've written is accessible no matter where i am. not only do i like to write down what my ambitions are, but also my achievements. keeping track of things like how many reps or kilometers allows me to look back and see how i've improved. a big wall calendar can be handy for this. i just got one that i keep on the wall facing my bedroom door. i see it every morning when i walk out my door, which will help me to stick to my routine. something else that can help with all this..

3] there's an app for that!
yea, i gave in to the world of smartphones about a year ago, just so many functions and uses i couldn't resist any longer. there's a huge selection of smartphone apps that can help keep track of all of those things from caloric and nutrient intake, to exercise and distances covered. there's even types of bluetooth step counters the size of a little jump drive that tracks everything you do and when you do it, right down to your heart rate when you're asleep. i haven't quite jumped on that bandwagon yet, but it may be a future investment.

 right now i'm using an app that allows me to keep track of my intake [food, water etc] and my output [exercise, calories burned, time spent/distance traveled etc.] and it has a summary screen where i can view each day as a list. it's important to be honest here, because 'cheating' isn't hurting anyone but yourself. when i look back over my list for the day and i see something i don't like [maybe i had a few unhealthy snacks or didn't get enough exercise] then i can pinpoint what to focus on for the next day.

4] be prepared.
if it's worth it, chances are it ain't easy. but when it comes to building healthy habits, being prepared helps me to ease into a workout or preparing a batch of juice. to help with focusing on the workout i have dedicated a space in my apartment where the mat is always ready and my equipment is accessible. by doing so i'm more likely to make use of it instead of thinking "ahh dang everything i need right now is packed away" and procrastinating.

being prepared helps me in the kitchen too. juicing was hard for me to get into at first because of all the prep work involved. one thing that i have done to make it easier is keep my juicer in an accessible [and visible] location so that i don't have to dig for parts to get it set up. i keep all of the little bits for it in an easy to maneuver bucket that i can pull from bit by bit to assemble, and then put everything back in one piece at a time after when i take it apart and clean it. after a few times of assembly and dis-assembly, it's starting to become sort of a reflex and it doesn't take me nearly as long as it did when i started.

5] make it a mantra [and be grateful!]
i mentioned in the last point that juicing takes a lot of prep work, so to help me get through cutting up all that fruit and veg i have made it a mantra. first i gather and rinse everything that i want to use, and i assume a pose in front of the cutting board that is like 'mountain pose' which helps me focus on my posture. i then begin with say, the apples, half them, quarter them, slice out the core, done. and as i do this for each the motion becomes a meditation and each cut a part of a rhythm. i think to myself for each piece of food how grateful i am to have it to consume and improve my health. cut, breathe.. before i know it, everything is cut and ready to go!

this works with a lot of things, especially things that can seem daunting like getting into chores or organizing my belongings. i make a mantra out of seemingly menial tasks at work, focusing just as much on how i carry myself or bend or stretch when i'm moving about my job.

6] add in the goodness instead of restricting the 'bad'
i think one of the biggest reasons why people fail at attempting to lose weight or get in shape or change their lifestyle is the fact that they jump right in instead of easing in gradually. especially for changing eating habits.. it's a lot easier to start by simply adding better meal choices into your diet instead of thinking 'no i can't have all of these things, just that'. this actually works.. i'm in the process of perfecting my nutritional intake by means of this very method. eventually consuming so many good nutritious things starts to crowd out cravings for not-so-nutritious snacks.

in the beginning it's hard to imagine living a whole day without sugar or a chocolate bar or white bread or whatever, but as i started to add in the goodness i also started to lose my taste for processed foods. adding real nutrition may taste offish at first [ie fruit sugar versus refined sugar products] but once my body started to get used to what real sugars taste like, eating sugars in processed foods no longer tastes as irresistible as it once did. every once in a while i'll give in and have a snack that i know is totally horrible for me but from what i remember tastes amazing, i'll get half way through it and realize that it doesn't really taste as good as i remember. especially with bottled pasteurized juice, this rarely satisfies my thirst anymore, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. i've even lost my taste for things i never thought i'd get over like salty pretzels [and other wheat products] and 'fake cheese products'.

7] find support.
this task has proven to be one of the more difficult ones for me, it's not always easy to reach out in a time of need but i believe that it is essential. many people hire personal trainers or a life coach to find the support they need, but not everyone [including myself] can afford that. it can be as easy as looking to a sibling or spouse or a good friend. having a mentor or just someone to talk to through such a transition can lighten the load. it's important to choose someone that has already gone down a similar path, and is willing to talk sense into you at points when you feel like giving up. i'm lucky enough to have a supportive partner who helps to keep me positive and even joins me in enjoying healthier food choices. and of course, there's always internet groups and online forums. finding a group of like-minded individuals working towards a common goal can be an immense amount of help.

8] act now.
procrastination has been at often times my worst enemy. i'm the type of person that will over analyze everything to bits and just sit there trying to figure out if something is good for me instead of just giving it a try. i think i waited a good few months between thinking running might be a good idea, and actually starting to run. i wish i would have just given it a try as soon as it came to mind, but it now serves as a lesson.

when it comes to improving my health, doing something is absolutely better than doing nothing. there shouldn't be at any point in my life a time where i can complain of being 'bored', and i have made a point of it. now whenever i'm sitting idle i think to myself, what could i be doing right now to improve the quality of my life or overall health? within a few moments ideas will appear. well, i could pop in that yoga dvd and stretch it out for an hour, or maybe organize my seed collection and start picking things i want to grow, or maybe just put on my headphones and go for a brisk walk. things like that. there's always lots to be done.

9] make it a hobby and have fun.
working towards better health doesn't have to be gruelling, which i suppose is the overall idea for this blog. instead of viewing exercise or preparing healthy foods as a chore, i view working towards better health as more of a 'hobby' to keep me interested. i found myself nerding out in a conversation about juicers at work today, and when i realized what was happening it made me smile. i now get excited over things like finding more nutrient packed 'superfoods' or discovering a new yoga position that relieves pressure off an achy joint. it's almost like playing a video game, leveling up, collecting health and building strength, only yknow.. in real life! my life!

10] challenge yourself.
when i started running, i could only go 7km tops in a day. by the time i'd dropped it due to joint issues i was pushing out nearly 20k on my runs.. i'd push myself a little further each day. i never saw myself as a runner, not even for a jog around the block. it's just never appealed to me, i much preferred a good climb up a steep escarpment trail. i shocked myself the first time i ran right into the next town, i smiled for days at the achievement. and it all started when i started this blog a year ago, the Sage Thrive Challenge. i wanted to do something new and truly challenge myself. without a good challenge there can be no true progress.

11]be adventurous!
and never say never. it can be a challenge in itself to keep an open mind about my health, and we are often taught that if it isn't a pill then it won't fix you. truth is, our bodies are capable of healing themselves and function optimally when they have what they need, and aren't being constantly toxified and stressed. so our mission is to figure out what those things are, and apply the knowledge. mild food sensitivities can cause a ton of different uncomfortable symptoms which are then treated with medicines we don't really need. everyone's body is unique and it's up to us as individuals to figure it out. this may result in a need for an all-out lifestyle change, but with an open mind and a sense of adventure, it can actually be fun!

well that's all i've collected for now, and it even took me a few days to write it all out. i'm sure as i go along the list will change and grow. on a side note, as a new challenge i signed up for a gym for the first time in my life... pre-opening rates, 4 weeks till it opens. so excited!!!

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