3 Smart Steps to Sustainable Fitness

I gave up making resolutions years ago. I finally grew weary of setting myself up for disappointment.  Although demoralizing, those past failings were essentially instructive as they uncovered my deepest yearnings and displayed my lack of self-knowledge.  As a seeker and a person of intensity, I lean toward digging deep -for better and for worse – and usually learn the hard way.

For most of us, entering a new year, and this time a new decade, begs for some serious self-reflection, and at least the desire to do some things differently. This new year I find it hard not to feel powerless and to be a bit broken-hearted as I navigate my life in our world that seems dead set on careening open-eyed toward disaster. I take equal solace in body, mind, spirit practices as well as a few questionable habits. At this challenging juncture, for me, that’s what balanced living looks like. Yet the calls to presence and equanimity grow louder each year.  And of course, it’s precisely through suffering their opposites of absence and reactivity that I learn my most valuable lessons. Perhaps you can relate? What are you being called to focus on this year? The answer to that question can point you to an overall intention to your guide your year.

In place of fast fitness plans that can be punitive and short-lived, I advocate a kinder and necessarily slower path to fitness;  a practice approach that is intention led and asks you to show up each day and do your best. An intention-based practice calls in your whole being to participate in creating a healthier lifestyle. When not just your willpower but ALL of the disparate parts of yourself climb on board the plan, the real work begins, and lasting change becomes possible.

Here are 3 Steps to Sustainable Fitness and Weight Loss

  1. Commit to a lifestyle practice: As opposed to short term fast fitness plans that more often than not send people in the wrong direction, embrace healthy living. The plan to lose weight shouldn’t be that different from the one that you’re willing to follow to maintain your results. A reasonable and balanced food plan is simply part of a healthy lifestyle, and, is more freeing and enjoyable than an ultra low calorie or food limiting diet.
  1. Have a Plan! Lifestyle over diet doesn’t mean that there are no guidelines to follow. The difference is in how you treat and support yourself as you practice your plan. Research shows that the kind to self approach trumps the “big stick” one when striving to change.

When employed with mindful awareness and self-acceptance, the strategies used in some diet programs can be imperative to creating healthier habits.

Useful dieting tactics include tracking steps and food, measuring portions, meal planning, counting sugar grams and fiber, limiting the eating window to 12 or fewer hours.

Useful body-mind-spirit practices include intention setting, positive self-talk, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, affirmations, yoga.

  1. Adopt a Healthy Mindset: Start each day with a health-focused personalized intention. Throughout the day be aware, without judgment, of how you are aligning with your plan. This Mindfulness will help you assess where you are at and make choices accordingly.

One helpful strategy is to label each day, not yourself, as a Loser, Gainer or Maintainer.

To be successful long term don’t try to make every day a losing weight one. Instead, shoot for more Loser than Gainer and Maintainer days. As you consider choices throughout the day ask yourself where they are likely to lead you. This proactive consciousness will help you identify problematic habits and create healthier ones.

While a will power-driven diet might end at any moment, pursuing a holistic lifestyle is a life-long endeavor.  This slow but sure approach to fitness is more self-honoring and therefore less confining.  It’s a relief to listen to your Self, work on balance, and not try to be perfect all the time! Above all, refrain from throwing in the towel when you find yourself off track. Instead view visiting old habits as necessary for learning detours. It’s arguably easier to follow a diet, but in the long run, it is certainly more gratifying to live with the freedom of personal choice.

Happy New Year!

Namaste,

Shannon

 

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