Monday, November 18, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle (Part II)

In reference to Healthy Lifestyle (Part I), I believe there is a sixth element to the Model of Change. This element (not stage) is struggle. 

To struggle isn't a phase that we come in and out of identifiably; rather struggle is present in each of the five stages because it is a fact of life. 

We can't escape struggle altogether, it is impossible - 
we are imperfect human beings.

The influence and impact of struggle throughout the five stages of the Cycle of Change is generally due to our perspective about what is happening within each of these stages. 

If we take charge of our perspective while struggling in these phases, I believe that two things can occur:

1 - Your attitude improves causing a more stable, accurate, and improved self-image.

2 - You spend more time in the Action and Maintenance Phases with less volatility and greater success each time you are in these phases.

Perspective as a Tool
How then can perspective possibly become a tool rather than a viewpoint? 

With regards to "getting healthy", we often associate this concept as a period of restriction rather than embracing a lifelong change.

In this light we have already failed before we even begin. If I am devoting massive amounts of time and energy for a period of restriction, then the results will only last for that period of time as well; seldom do changes last much longer than that.

Going into change with the realization that you aren't perfect, struggle is generally always present and you embrace it still, then perspective somehow becomes more accurate. We become increasingly more patient with ourselves, which has the effect of being more disciplined and focused.

Example 1 (Perspective not as a tool, i.e. the way most of us do it.): 
During the last week of December I decide to buy a fitness program or a gym membership with the intent to start up on January 2nd. 

At this same time I decide that the way I eat is unhealthy, I also drink too much caffeine, and so the list of things to change builds. Come January 2, I begin to change all of my habits at once. 

Jumping full-steam ahead into 90-day program or gym membership I last somewhere between four to fifteen days because I have in that time already over trained and have reached burnout, maybe even injured myself. 

To make matters worse I get on the scale and see that I haven't lost the 20 lbs. that I had planned on losing that week, but instead I have gained weight 4 lbs! 

This frustrates me because I don't understand the phenomena as to why I have gained and not lost. I don't care anyway because I am burned out and so I quit.

Example 2 (Perspective as a tool): 
During the last week of December I decide to buy a fitness program or a gym membership and I have a lot of goals I want to meet and a lot of habits I need to change. 

Understanding that a true lifestyle change isn't established overnight I make a S.M.A.R.T plan with a single specific goal to improve my heart health. 

First, I take measurements of my body and current weight and log them in a record book, then I go for a 1.5 mile walk (outside or treadmill) and see how long it takes without losing my breath and without being too slow. 

Then I set an attainable goal to improve my 1.5-mile walk/run time and endurance by 30-seconds or so within a month. I understand that this initial effort is relevant to the goal of improving my heart health. 

I create a calendar of a daily fitness schedule and put it on my mirror. Each day I cross of the workload as I complete it.

The aim of the improved heart health goal is to have a more solid foundation to start from at the end of my first 30 days (time-bound). 

At month end, I will review my goals again and adjustment efforts accordingly. That adjustment may be the addition of just one thing or the removing of just one thing, not both.

During this 30 days I don't weigh myself at all because I know that it is normal to actually increase in weight, as muscle is more dense than fat. Instead, it is more important to track measurements than weight, so this is what I monitor for the first 30-40 days.

Also, I anticipate being somewhat sore during this period because muscle that has otherwise been lying dormant is now in use. As muscle breaks down, in order to be built up, there will be some soreness. 

If I am sore beyond 36-48hrs at a time, then I know that I am pushing myself too hard and not allowing enough time for the muscle to recover before exercising that particular area again.
With this plan in mind, it permits my perspective to be focused on something other than, "I hate my body." It is now focused on measurable realities like:
  • My lungs don't burn in my 1.5-mile walk like they used to.
  • I'm comfortable with 1.5 miles, maybe I will go further or maybe I will run for 30 seconds then walk for 30 seconds and so on, for the full distance.
  • Hey my pants fit better now.
  • I'm starting to get the hang of this. 

In time, creating this foundation will reduce my risk of injury and increase my probability of success. Also note that struggle is still present. 

As it gets easier, I do more (struggle still being present). As I do more, I get excited what I can do (struggle still being present). The cycle continues as growth and development occurs (struggle still being present).

It is when there is plateau that means you have really achieved something and it is time to switch things up. Now it is time to review my progress, make sure my tracking log is current. 

Reviewing my tracking log, I see awesome things. I now have proof that I have improved my cardio health. I went from a 40min 1.5-mile walk, to a 15min 1.5-mile walk/run and then over the course of few months I am at a 11min 1.5-mile run. During this time I have completed a 5k charity run and look forward to more.

At this time I revamp and create a new goal and increase my workout resistance. Based on the new goal I create a new workout schedule and print it out for my mirror. As this becomes a habit, it takes less and less time and the effort to be consistent becomes easier.

Now that I know my heart is ready to roll, I am ready to focus on flexibility, balance, and strength improvements. Also, while looking forward to maintaining and improving my heart health.

But what about those with limitations? Stay tuned!

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