I Need a Makeover
I’ve been feeling really burnt out, so I’ve decided to do a little revamp with my health and fitness. May is makeover month. I’m already one week in, and things are going well.
Sorry. Syntax. I meant to say: Well, things are going.
I Wanted to Be Realistic
I’ve realized just how much I engage in all-or-nothing thinking. I talk about that often, not because I’m an expert and I know better and I do better, but rather because I engage in that sort of thinking all the time. And this makeover is no exception.
My plan was to tackle all areas of my health: fitness, nutrition, sleep and recovery, stress management, and flexibility and mobility. To get a handle on my stress; feel, perform and function better; and improve my clarity and focus.
But I didn’t want to be unrealistic about this. My goal was to make gradual improvements in all of these areas over the next month, rather than expect an instant transformation. To prioritize progress rather than perfection. To allow for mistakes and growth, and gradually replace some of my poorer habits with some better ones.
I thought of all of this when I came up with my plan. And yet a few days in, I realized I was doing the exact opposite of what I intended.
I Went for the Quick Fix
As soon as I started, I placed unrealistic expectations on myself. My goal to sleep 8 hours per night by the end of the month? Suddenly I was expecting 8 hours right now. To go from 5 or 6 hours a night to 8, just like that. That easy. All I had to do was pick a start date.
And I realized I was thinking this way with every aspect of my plan: my cross training, my flexibility and mobility work, my diet, my stress management practices. With all of it, I was expecting to reach the goal as soon as I started. Just hit those goals the first few days, and then maintain for the next month.
The Lure of Instant Transformation
I had gotten sucked into the lure of the instant makeover: just slather on some sleep, cut and colour your diet, put on a different coping mechanism, and you’re instantly new, improved and fabulous!
Not likely. Not with health and fitness.
It took a long time for me to create these less-than-ideal habits. Why would I suddenly expect to change all of that overnight?
Health & Fitness Improvement Takes Time
A much more realistic approach would be to make improvements in small increments. Add an extra 30 minutes of sleep to start, for instance, and then only add more once I was able to maintain that consistently.
The important thing to remember when making changes to your health and fitness is that changes in one area will affect other areas of your life.
Think of it like putting a fitted bedsheet on a mattress. You tug at one corner, and it pulls the rest of the sheet. Similarly, adjusting your sleep routine or exercise routine or diet will affect other areas of your life—your energy level, your leisure time, your schedule, etc. So it’s best to not tug at that bedsheet corner too strongly, or else you’ll never get that bed made. Small changes—small tugs—are best.
Focus on Gradual, Continuous Improvement
Instant transformation—or all vs nothing—would be unrealistic. Instead, a more realistic goal is continuous improvement.
If you get just a little bit better than where you are now, but in several different areas of your life, the sum total of all of those small improvements will have a significant impact on your health, well-being and performance.
That is realistic, that is sustainable, and that will get results.
Think about your own health and/or fitness goals. Have you been placing unrealistic expectations on your progress? If so, can you think of a way to tweak your plan in order to make your goals more achievable?