Thursday, February 27, 2014

Taking Control -- An Incremental Way to Regain Your Health

Tired of feeling lethargic?
Of not having the energy or desire to do any physical activity?
Want to be able to play with your kids or grandkids
without experiencing pain or exhaustion afterwards?
Tired of spending most of the day thinking about when and what you're going to eat next?  
Growing older and starting to feel the aches & pains, brain fog, and other ailments that society has told us are "normal" and just a part of the aging process?

If so, I totally understand.  I've been there.  And sometimes I still have days when I feel all of these things.

There is hope; there is a way to make all of this go away, no matter what age or stage of life you are in.
Of course, we will still grow older, but we can do it with significantly less pain and discomfort if we change certain aspects of our lives.

It's not easy, but it is SO worth it! 

This is going to be a blog series detailing some of the changes I've made in my life in the last few years.  I want to give you the steps to take, the "why" behind each step, and the way that each step can change your life.

I changed my lifestyle habits a little bit at a time,
and am still changing!

Some people may prefer to go "cold turkey" and change everything all at once.  If that suits your personality and you can sustain such drastic change, more power to you and I'd love to hear about your experience.

However, that is not what I've done.
I have made many small changes over the course of the last 4 years and am still learning and tweaking different things today.  So therefore, all I can write about is incremental change as I have no experience with drastic, "cold turkey" type of change. 

That being said, I am not a dietician or personal trainer.  I have no medical training or licenses.  I am just a regular mom and wife who has done a ton or research in the last few years.  I've read dozens of books, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and read a boat-load of blogs.

I don't profess to know everything (or anywhere near everything) about health and fitness.

But I do know what has worked for me.  And I want to share that with you.

You may not have the time or desire to read articles or listen to podcasts, so I want to summarize and condense what I have learned so that you can have the information without the burden of doing the research.

Please, if you have any physical issues or any hesitations whatsoever, disregard what I say and ask for your doctor's advice.

That is my disclaimer.
Because I'm a lawyer.
And that's how I roll. 

And please ignore all my comma splices.
I always, overuse, commas.

Step 1.  Find Your Motivation!

There are 2 types of motivation -- intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is when you desire a goal in and of itself.  The achievement of that goal is sufficient enough to motivate you to work towards that goal.
Extrinsic motivation is when you work towards a goal in order to achieve a reward upon completion of the goal.
The carrot on a stick scenario.
You do not desire to do the work, but instead are motivated by the chance to get the reward.  Doing the work is simply a means to an end.
When you get the reward, the work stops. 

Does this make sense?

Let's look at an example -- Physical Fitness.

Intrinsic Motivation -- You want to exercise because you enjoy the exercise and its immediate effects.
You enjoy the type of exercise that you do... 
You like to challenge your body...  
You feel healthier and more energetic after working out...   
Staying fit allows you to enjoy other daily activities...

Extrinsic Motivation --You want to exercise in order to achieve a certain goal. 
You want to fit into skinny jeans...
You want to make the football team...
You want giant biceps...
You don't want a muffin top...
You want to lose fat...
You want to improve your health...
You want to avoid chronic diseases or illness... 

Which one is better?

I think that extrinsic motivation can definitely be useful, but that intrinsic motivation is necessary to maintain your fitness throughout your whole life.  To have a healthy lifestyle, you must actually enjoy the physical activity that you choose to do. 

So... What motivates you?  Why do you want to be healthy?  What benefits will you reap if you are healthy and fit?

Here's my intrinsic motivation --  I actually enjoy the type of exercising that I do.  I enjoy lifting weights.  I like to challenge myself and see if I can lift heavier things this week than last week.  I went through a phase where I thought the best exercise was running.  So I tried to force myself to be a runner.  Needless to say, exercising was a burden and I didn't stick with it.  Now that I found something I enjoy, I actually look forward to going to the gym. 

Also, I like the way exercising makes me feel.  Exercising gives me energy to take care of my family.  It allows me some "alone time," time to think and be consumed by my own thoughts. 

My extrinsic motivation -- Exercising decreases my chances of getting a chronic illness.  Increases my chances of being an active senior citizen when that time comes.  I want to do everything in my power to make sure that when I'm old, I am still physically and mentally sharp.

Also, a superficial extrinsic motivator is to be the hottest chick in the room.  (Not that I ever am the hottest chick in the room, but that's sometimes my goal...)  I hate to admit it; I try not to concentrate on this and tell myself that physical appearance doesn't matter.  But I'm human, self-conscious, and grew up in a media-induced, sex-crazed world where we are bombarded with images of perfect looking women everyday.  That is my struggle. 

This post was long and kind of deep.
The rest will be shorter and more practical.