Do what feels good.
I know you. You probably have your cute matching gym clothes on. You’ve probably saved a workout to do by one of your favorite fitness influencers on Instagram. You might have even stretched, foam rolled, drank your pre workout… but you probably won’t go to the gym. Why? You tell yourself that you’re too tired and your left ankle hurts and you have a headache and you make all the excuses but the real truth is that you just don’t want to have to KEEP doing it. You don’t want to have to start holding yourself accountable because hey, this is comfy right? You are doing fine for now, right? So let’s just relax on the couch and maybe try again next week.
So why does this cycle keep happening again and again? Even if we get to the gym some days or do well for a couple weeks - why won’t it last? It’s because we usually set ourselves up for failure before we even begin. It’s not our fault, it’s how we have programmed ourselves. We make huge, impractical goals that we totally dread and we want to give up immediately when we don’t meet them. We set expectations which actually turn into limitations, and we are wayyyyyy too hard on ourselves.
Transformations don’t happen overnight and sometimes we have to take two steps forward and one step back to get where we want to go. But as long as we just keep going and treat each moment as a new opportunity to succeed - we literally can’t fail.
I’m going to share with you 7 tricks that can help to set you up for success - and keep you fairly sane while doing it. These tricks will help address the real problem - our personal relationship with all things “health”.
1- Set small, achievable goals
This one’s the biggest and also probably the hardest. Usually when we make goals we say “okay I’m going to work out every day in January” or “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month” because we truly want to do well and succeed. Then, when we don’t work out that one Tuesday when we had a major headache - we basically give up. We spiral down a rabbit hole of how incapable we are and how we will never be able to do it. If we just made our goals something like “move my body today” or “eat a vegetable at lunch” we could be much more understanding with ourselves and maybe even let ourselves take those rest days when we know that’s what we really need. Like a lot of things in life, we sabotage ourselves by worrying so much about the future that we destroy our ability to perform in the present. Our minds race with the buts and what ifs about how 2 months from now we might not be able to afford our gym membership so honestly what’s the point of signing up now? Our power is only in the present. Let’s not ruin our plans by making assumptions about how everything else has to go from here on out. Just take it one day at a time. Can we go to the gym right now? Yes? Then go. Can we go on the elliptical for 5 minutes? Yes? Then go. 5 minutes more? Yes? Then go. Can we eat a salad for dinner just tonight? Yes? Bottoms up. All you have to worry about - ever - is right now. We shouldn’t set high expectations for ourselves because as soon as we get off track it’s going to be that much easier to just throw it all away. Instead, set tiny goals every day. Move through it. If you don’t make that goal that day, tomorrow is a new day and set a new goal then.
2- Make it as important as any other thing you do that day
Since working out is usually perceived as a chore that we dread, we usually don’t have that hard of a time backing out on it. What if we treated our relationship with our health the same way we treat any other important relationship in our life? Because guess what? We are stuck with it for the long haul, baby. Mark workouts in your planner. Set alarms on our phones. We wouldn’t cancel a meeting with our boss because we want to lay on the futon and watch Below Deck, right? So give the same respect to our own health. Lay the gym clothes out the night before if we’re working out in the morning. If we’re working out after work, change into them immediately when we get home. Pack the meals and the snacks. Set ourselves up for success to achieve this as we would anything else in our lives.
3- Ditch that scale
Literally there is no reason we should be weighing ourselves unless we are in the UFC and need to make weight that week. Our bodies fluctuate so much during the days and weeks and months from things outside of our control that it’s truly maddening to use that as a barometer of our success. Muscle weighs more than fat so our bodies at 150 pounds but with no muscle is going to look much different than a healthy and toned body at 160 pounds. Instead, take progress pictures! Track your meals! Notice how you feel and write it down in a journal. My biggest motivation always comes from trying on the same dress or pair of jeans week to week and noticing how much better I feel in it. If you feel good, I can promise you that you’re doing it right.
4- Plan your meals and PLAN YOUR TREATS!
We’ve heard of meal planning and yes, of course that can set us up for some major success, but that can also kill our little spirits that still need change and flavor and rewards every now and then. So… plan the damn treats! I like to treat myself to a glass of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate on the weeknights as a healthy indulgence, but then I also try to plan a cheat dinner during the week and a cheat day for the weekend to give me something to look forward to and really work towards. It makes me feel so good and changes my relationship with “cheat” foods because it was apart of my “plan” and I really feel as if I earned it. I am so much more thankful for that juicy burger I worked so hard for rather than spiraling with guilt while I eat it.
5- Do what feels GOOD
We sort of live in a “no pain no gain” society where we associate being successful or happy with suffering miserably. “I have to do 3 hours of miserable cardio if I ever want to look good in a bikini”. “I can’t eat sugar for a month if I want arms like Jennifer Aniston”. I’m not bashing on hard work, but I think it’s important to exercise our intuition as well as any other part of our bodies. I love to do dance and yoga classes as part of my workout routine because doing them makes me feel strong and fun and alive. I love to run really fast because I feel like a frickin superhero when I zoom by people on the street. Health is not a linear path and only you know what’s truly best for your body. Doing things that you really love and find joy in will make you that much more grateful and excited to put in the “work”. Are you craving some carbs but you swore them off for 2021? Eat the damn pasta. And celebrate how it really makes you feel and what you GET to do with your body- not what you have to do. You get to eat good food. You get to run as fast as you can. You get to dance around your house to the new Taylor Swift album. If it feels good, just do it.
6- Unfollow any page that makes you feel bad
We NEED to stop comparing. (I know, easier said than done). Sometimes we follow pages thinking that if we surround ourselves with their success then we will feel pushed to succeed as well. But what it actually can make us do is obsess over all the reasons why they’re better than us and how we will never get there. Go online right now and look at your feed and if you see any posts that don’t inspire you, or motivate you, or lift you up then please mute or unfollow. It’s not these influencer’s fault, but taking care of our bodies is hard enough without having to keep comparing yourself to others who are on a completely different journey than us. We want to silence that voice that tells us we can’t do it and give a damn megaphone to the one that knows we can.
7- Already be proud of yourself
This is a hard switch to make but if we treat ourselves as that rockstar we fantasize about - the rest will be much easier to follow. Live in the end zone. Live like we’ve already won the fucking game. How does a fit person carry themselves? How do they live their lives? Do they mope around on the couch after a rough day and order McDonald’s on UberEats? Or do they talk kindly to themselves and maybe decide to treat themselves to some Netflix and an Oreo McFlurry after they’ve done their workout and had a balance? Be that badass you are picturing because if you can dream it, you can most definitely do it.
I know these goals may seem simple in text, but it takes a lot of time and practice to implement them into our lives so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right the first time, or the second time, or the seventeenth time. The important thing is you keep going, and I promise, it will get easier. If any of these struggles or ideas resonate with you, please feel free to DM me at @ashleypaigeandersen. I’d love to chat more about how implementing real change in your life can set you up for success not just in health, but in every aspect in your life. Together, we’ve got this.