As a Bariatric Fitness enthusiast and Motivational Coach I find that often time’s people who talk to me about their weight loss journey usually have some sort of barrier in their way when it comes to their current wellness path.
Before we get too far ahead let‘s talk about your wellness path. A wellness path is one of the most effective starting tools I have found in helping other people realize where they currently are in their own wellness journey and most importantly, where they want to be. A wellness path is a never-ending journey. It begins the moment you want it to and it is a constant work in progress. When we talk about wellness, we’re no longer talking about one aspect of our health we’re not talking about just nutrition, or just exercise; Nope, we’re talking about the whole kit and caboodle. (I had those when I was a kid did you?)
When we talk about wellness it encompasses everything, the physical, mental, spiritual and social-emotional aspects of your currently lifestyle choices, situations and influences. When we start thinking about Wellness, I have found that the easiest place to start is with where you want you are. Find a relaxing environment and spend a little time thinking about your current Wellness path. What are you currently physical activity levels like? What are you current eating habits like? Is there a lot of stress in your life, do you make the time to relax and find mental clarity? Do you surround yourself with people who follow the 4H – Rule? (Do they help you, hinder you, heal you or hurt you?)
Once you have done this the fun part begins – establishing where you want to be. I like to do this exercise in a hot bubble bath with a cup of coffee and a good “For fun reading only” book next to me for when I am done. Personally I like to scoot all the way down in the tub, feeling warm and an embraced by soothing fragranced suds like lavender or sage. Then I close my eyes and I envision that wellness bath again…. This vision should illustrate how you wish to be living your life.
I’m running down a long wooded path, dirt not paved, and there are lush green trees all around me. I’m not running fast, but I am running at a comfortable and steady pace. Food is one of my fuels, and the choices I put into my body follow the same 4H-Rule that I follow emotionally. It either helps or heals my body rather than hindering it or hurting it. I’m not stressed out, I am calm, my life is not chaotic and there is very little drama. I’m surrounded by supportive, loving friends; I have a healthy emotional and sexual relationship. Exercise is a miracle drug for me; it’s my major coping skill. So while I am exercise an hour to an hour and a half a day 4-5 days a week consistently, I may throw in an extra work out here or there on a day I need a little emotional boost. This is my goal wellness path.
Next, we need to evaluate where we are verses where we want to be and evaluate the distance between those goals. Let’s say for example that I am in a phase where I am having a hard time maintaining my weight and I am letting those sneaky unhealthy, simplistic carbohydrates back into my diet. I might decide that I need to replace any simple carbs I eat with complex carbs instead. When accessing your wellness plan and deciding how to get where you want to be, we want to tackle one issue at a time. Identify the problem, find a proposed solution, set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal that focuses on this change and start moving towards it.
Recognize that there WILL be barriers. Barriers are the events, thoughts and feelings in your life that make regular physical activity, regular healthy eating and weight loss or weight maintenance hard for us.
Let’s say for example I am stressed out about those complex carbs I am eating. When I asked myself, “What is my biggest barrier?” my answer is; “I don’t feel like I get a lot of support at home when it comes to healthy eating.”
Now it’s time to come up with some solutions to this barrier, because every obstacle we come across is really just an opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to find a way around it. Maybe I consider looking for others that want to eat healthy, like a lunch buddy at work. Or maybe it is time to find a weight loss support group and attend a few meetings. Perhaps I want to talk to my nutritionist and get a plan and some ideas for what I can eat instead of the unhealthy carbs I’m craving. Heck maybe I want to take a cooking class that focuses on healthy foods.
What I really want to do is make sure that I recognize my barriers and that I am not only coming up with healthier solutions or alternatives, but that I am following through with them.
That’s why it is very important to pick one aspect of your Wellness path to focus on at time and that you set a S.M.A.R.T Goal to get you there. I usually suggest that you try to identify one specific form of action that you are going to stick with, remember; keeping our promises to ourselves boosts our personal integrity and helps us grow our confidence in ourselves.
Remember a goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. Often, you will usually see a little 2 by the R in S.M.A.R.T. Goal – because while it is important that your goal is realistic it is also extremely important that your goal is rewarded if you achieve it. I often use this simple fill in the black format to set my S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Starting __________, for ____________________, I will ____________________________________, ___ Days/Week as measured by _____________________________________. If I complete this goal I will reward myself with ________________________________________.
So if I was setting a S.M.A.R.T. Goal to get past my unhealthy carb eating problem it might look like this.
Starting tomorrow, October 7th, for one week, I will replace eating pretzels and potato chips with eating fruits and vegetables, 7 days/Week as measured by my food journal. If I complete this goal I will reward myself with a new book.
Living your life paying attention to your Wellness path and setting small self-improvement goals for yourself is my opinion a necessary key in both your weight loss journey and your weight loss management (Maintenance) – If you find yourself struggling with barriers, obstacles or healthy life style decisions it might just be time to consider talking to a trained Lifestyle & Wellness Coach.