HOW TO NAVIGATE THE OBSTACLE COURSE

Congratulations!! You’ve made it into the year 2019. If you’re like millions of others you’ve started the year off with new goals and/or resolutions, or perhaps the same ones you made last year and the year before that and the year before that and, well, you get the picture. I don’t bring this up to bring you down. Quite the contrary! If we’re going to make changes, true behavior changes in our lives, we have to face reality and be honest with ourselves.

A fresh start is always uplifting and gives us a sense of joy and excitement. But often times, that fresh start, that joy and excitement, is quickly squelched by an unexpected event or a list of other things that push their way onto your calendar and into your schedule. People demand more of your time. A loved one falls ill, you fall ill, whatever the reason. There are sometimes valid reasons and sometimes there are just excuses, but in either case, your grand plan to exercise and take control of your health has veered off course and you’ve hit a roadblock. The road to better health stopped there. You end that journey.

IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!!

Life is like an obstacle course. We go along awhile at a steady pace then suddenly we come upon a challenge. We make it past that one then there is a different obstacle in front of us. When you do run into an obstacle, you need to be prepared to deal with it. Life is crazy. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. I’ve heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plan. There are many things within our control but there is also chaos. There are things we cannot control that can create a myriad of events or obstacles that change the course we had planned. The key to overcoming them is to first understand that they will happen, and the second key is to have a contingency plan or plan B ready.

Can I be honest with you here?

Do you know the number one reason people quit their “program” or give up on their goals? Your reason may be the same or different, but the number one reason people give up on their healthy goals is sighted as a lack of results. Is that you? Have you given up because you haven’t seen the results you were looking for? Can I be honest with you here? It’s not always fun to hear, but the truth is, if you’re not seeing the results you were expecting from a good healthy eating and exercise plan it is because you’re either not really sticking to it (be honest) or your expectations are unrealistic.

Unrealistic expectations

Let’s take the later possible reason first - your expectations. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. You lost three in the first week (oh happy days! right?) and then you’ve gained back one or two the next week (how depressing, right?), then lost another two. The roller coaster ride has got you confused and frustrated. The truth is, the journey to better health is never a straight path. Even if you do everything you’re supposed to, it takes time. I mean, honestly, you have to consider that you must burn about 3500 calories to lose one pound (and that’s only in the beginning).

Your goals need to be SMARTER

Your goals need to be SMARTER, Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluate, Readjust. There should be short term and long term goals, product and process goals to ensure success. With goals in place (your plan or map), you know where you are and the direction you want to go to get to your final destination.

You also know there is usually more than one way to get there.  Google maps will give you options for that - the fastest route, the most direct route, a route without tolls, or one that avoids interstates all together. The point is, there is more than one way to get to that final destination. And likewise there are several ways to get to your destination when considering your health and fitness goals. There are however few ways that will lead to lasting change and that’s truly the end goal, not just a quick fix where you end up back to where you started.

A little fudge goes a long way?

So if your expectations are realistic (for weight loss that would be 1-2 pounds per week with some variances), let’s get real about your behaviors. Could it be you do good most of the time, but are fudging (no pun intended, but it is kinda funny, right?) a little? Sometimes that “little” is causing a big hiccup in your plan.

What are the things that would, could or have in the past derailed you? Write them down. This won’t take long, but it could possibly rescue you. What are they? What have you experienced in your past that has thrown you off your path? What have you seen happen in other people’s lives? Is it a birthday party that you absolutely have to attend and the cake is too much to resist? Did you allow someone to book an appointment with you when you had planned to exercise…think of all of the possible obstacles you can and write the down.

The next step is to write out a course of action that you could take to ward off such an event or if the event is unavoidable, what you will do to immediately get back on track. Again, this does not need to be a novel or even a paragraph, just a sentence or two - keep it simple and SMARTER.

All or Nothing is not the answer

There is an all or nothing mentality that many subscribe to which can lead to dire consequences. The all or nothing approach looks a bit like this. You plan out your week. You have set aside 4 days to exercise and you’ve planned to eat healthy by eating breakfasts at home, bringing your lunch to work and having a healthy meal delivered to you in the evening. Monday hits, you eat that healthy breakfast, enjoy a wonderful lunch that you prepared at home and know is healthy and then BAM!! the boss needs you to stay late. You don’t get to have the healthy meal you were planning on and you don’t get to exercise after work like you planned. Instead of throwing in the towel, what can you do in this situation? Step back and look at it? What can you do different? Learn from it!

Obstacles are what you see when you lose focus

Focus on your GOAL not the obstacles. Obstacles are what you see when you lose focus, so

focus on the end game,

the goal,

the short term and long term goal,

the product and the process goal.

FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS on the things that matter.

Why did you start this journey?

What did you hope to gain from it?

Focus on those things, not the temporary obstacle.

We don’t learn from our mistakes unless we take the time to figure out what went wrong, why it went wrong and come up with a new plan. Meditating on something requires you think about it, no matter how difficult, so that you learn from it. If at first you don’t succeed, re-evaluate the plan, then try again with a new plan in place. Don’t just give up. Figure it out. This whole process is like a puzzle and your pieces need to fit together properly. There is help out there, so if you cannot figure it out on your own, just know that there are people out there that love to serve, have been trained to help and would love nothing more than to help you succeed!

My hope is that this little exercise,asking yourself some tough questions and putting a new plan in place will get you on your way to the success you’ve craved in your health and wellness journey!!