There’s an expression we’ll commonly use at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc that goes ‘It’s simple but not easy’. What we mean is that healthy living involves a simple plan but following the plan isn’t always easy.
Get eight hours of sleep per night. Drink water. Eat protein and veggies. Move your body, preferably with resistance.
That’s not very complicated. Every 5 year old would understand this prescription. Yet most adults struggle with doing these things.
And we know they struggle because each year they put on more weight. They become more diseased and injured.
So where is the breakdown? We have a simple plan. We understand the plan. Yet we fail to achieve the goal at the end.
Why does this happen?
Why is that by the first week of January 27% of people abandon their new year’s resolutions. Why is thatjust over half of people make it to the one month mark?
Well there are a number of things that come to mind.But here are 5 reasons why you might not be satisfied with the results.
1.You do it for the wrong reasons
When you decide to make a change you need to do this for the right reasons. This means it has to be your choice and not due to outside pressures.
Consider a dad that is trying to quit smoking. And the family is hounding him to give up this bad habit. They do things to ‘help’ like hiding his cigarettes or lighters. They make jokes about smokers and how awful their teeth look and breath smell. They complain constantly about this habit and nag dad about giving it up.
Obviously this won’t work.
Dad will recognize this outside pressure and won’t like it. He may get annoyed when his smokes are hidden on him. And he won’t feel in control of the process but instead may feel restricted and bound by someone else’s ‘rules’. When given the chance i.e. no family around, he may have a smoke in order to assert his autonomy and have some control over the process.
Or another scenario might involve a couple where the other partner feels they have to quit smoking in order to not lose the other partner. Instead of making the decision to quit based on positive outcomes i.e. better health, whiter teeth, more energy, they are trying to quit to avoid a negative outcome. Not only is this a different strategy for the person trying to quit it is also different for the other non-smoker in the relationship.
A better option, and ultimately a better outcome, would be when the individual makes the decision to change. This way it’s not due to outside pressure and allows for the person to be in control. They have autonomy over the process and don’t feel restricted by someone else’s rules. They are making a change to improve some aspect or quality of their life rather than a fear-based reaction to the threat of losing something or someone.
2. Your Vision is Short Term
Almost 7 years ago I had laser vision on my eyes. If you had known me then you would have remembered that I wore glasses. I had myopia and the laser surgery would correct this and allow me to see things in the distance.
For a number of people seeking improvement in their health or fitness I wish we could give them this procedure. I wish that they could see further into the future. I wish they could see how impressive the results could be. I want them to see how great there accomplishments are when they put in the work and stick with it.
Because that’s the problem.
Most people won’t put in the time. And most people won’t stay the course.
When the pain of staying the same exceeds that of making a chance people will be moved to take action.
But unfortunately for most there will be an over-reaction. They will go out for a 10 km run. They will plan to go to the gym 5 days a week for an hour. They will swear off sugar, alcohol, any form of carbohydrate and break-up with Netflix.
And 27% quit after a week.
And more than 50% quit after a month.
Imagine if we were to live another 40 years. That’s 2080 weeks. When we quit in the first week we only made it 0.04% of the way there.
Pretty hard to expect success at this low rate.
3. Choose Healthy Sustainable Habits
When you’re looking to make a chance in your health ask yourself the questions ‘Is this healthy?’ and ‘Can I do it forever?’.
If the answer is yes to both, go for it. You’re on the right track. If you answered no, scale back on the magnitude of the question until you can say yes. This assumes you are choosing something that is healthy.
For example here’s how this would work. ‘I will run 5 km everyday’. Nope not going to happen. ‘I will walk 2.5 km per day’. Really good chance this could happen daily except when I don’t have 30 minutes. I only have 10 minutes. In that case the plan should be ‘I will walk 500 m daily’.
4. Make Small Healthy Choices Daily
Have you heard us use the expression ‘to be the penny’? This means to make small daily habits all the time. We use the analogy of a penny that doubles every day for 31 days. This will accumulate to more value than 10 million dollars at the end of the month.
But starting with a penny isn’t exciting. And it involves patience to surpass 10 million at the end. When we go from 1 cent to 2, to 4, to 8, 16, 32, 64…it can be frustrating. Just like measuring ourselves constantly and expecting a quick result.
Stay the course and know that a big payoff is coming at the end. And when we do get there we are able to stay there. We know what it takes to achieve great health and fitness. It would be similar to making 10 million or winning a lottery. Those that win the lottery typically are poor again very soon after because they haven’t changed their mindset and behaviours. They simply got lucky and won the lottery.
Focus on the process, not the outcome, and stay the course. Make your goal to get 8 hours of sleep not to lose 20 pounds. Make your goal to bring a lunch to work every day not to drop 3 inches off your waist. Make your goal to address your mobility everyday not run a 10 km in the fall.
When you reframe your approach you are more likely to stay the course and achieve a better result.
5. Expand Your Definition of Health
We have a number of rules that we abide by on a daily basis. For example, when you are driving and see a red light or red octagonal sign we know what to do. We stop.
We don’t only follow this instruction on weekdays. We don’t follow it in the morning but ignore it in the afternoon. We don’t follow it when we drive with someone else but ignore when alone. We don’t follow this rule when we drive in our home towns but ignore it when we travel.
We understand what it means when we come upon a stop sign or a red light. And we follow this rule consistently.
But when it comes to our health we get casual. We break the rules when given the chance.
So what rules am I talking about? I’m referring to the basic things that we do on a daily basis for optimal health and hygiene. Things like going to bed at night. Drinking water. Bathing and brushing our teeth.
These things happen daily, without fail. Would you agree?
These are a part of our rules for optimal health and performance. And we don’t choose whether or not we’re going to follow them on a daily basis. They always happen.
For example, when you take a trip, how much time do you give to considering whether or not you’ll pack a tooth brush? None, right? It’s a done deal. This is a part of your definition of health. And something you do daily.
But how many people will travel for work or pleasure and let their health, fitness and performance slide? I hear it daily based on what I do.
‘This plan sounds great. But I travel a lot and so it just won’t work for me.’
And by plan we could take this to mean fitness, mobility, nutrition, sleep…whatever aspect of health we want. But this is the same as leaving your tooth brush at home.
You are driving right through the intersection when the light is red.
You are breaking the rules of your health.
So what we need to do is expand the definition of our health. And we have to give it more priority in our lives. We need to plan ahead and be prepared. Maybe this means packing workout clothes, running shoes and a bathing suit for a work trip. Maybe it means bringing a shaker cup for a quick meal when airport options are limited. Maybe it means ordering a fridge for the hotel room before you arrive.
Yeah, you’re right. Maybe it involves a little more planning. And a little more work.
But after a while it won’t take much more planning. And it won’t feel like much more work.
About as much planning as it to pack a toothbrush or stop at a red light.