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Health is a marathon, not a sprint

Ah – the New Year. A time to make that change you’ve been thinking about. For a lot of people this represents trying to change their health for the better – a fantastic and admirable goal.

 

Without your health, what do you have?

 

Improving your health impacts your life more than almost anything else.

 

So why is it that most people that establish a New Year’s resolution seem to falter after a few short weeks?

 

What is it about improving your health that is so difficult?

 

I think a lot of it has to do with expectations and mindset. Typically, we expect to reach our goals much faster than possible.

 

And if we’re lucky enough to reach these goals in the time that we planned – we tend to fall back into our old habits.

 

Why? Because the methods we used to get there weren’t sustainable.

 

That’s an important thing to understand. Radical changes bring results, but can’t be sustained and small changes won’t create visible short-term results.

 

Without recognizable results it’s easy to become discouraged and start cheating on your goals.

 

This is where mindset comes into play.

 

Before undertaking a project as large as improving your health, it’s important to be in the right state of mind.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

I mean that you need to understand that changing your health isn’t as simple as eating well and exercising consistently for a month. This is a great start – but 4 weeks of healthy living will not change your life. It just won’t. It’s a great foundation, but in order to become “healthy” you need to find a way to sustain that behavior indefinitely.

 

This is why people fail so frequently when starting a New Years resolution.

 

Let’s use my friend Marty as an example. Marty’s a hypothetical person, but I like the name for this scenario.

 

Marty decided he wanted to lose 20 pounds and get his 6 pack back.

 

Awesome goals, Marty.

 

So, January 2nd – he was tired and hung over on the 1st– he hits the gym for a solid 2 hours. Once he’s done, he’s thoroughly exhausted.

 

Great start to the resolution.

 

He does this for the next 5 days in a row.

 

Day 6 comes around and Marty is sore beyond belief, it’s Saturday, and all he wants to do it relax and reward himself for all his hard work.

 

He decides he’s going to order pizza for dinner and to wash it all down has some beer.

 

Is this a problem? Not necessarily. If Marty only had 1 slice and 1 beer, cool – nice little treat for the week.

 

BUT

 

If he ate the entire pizza and a 6 pack of beer, he just spoiled his entire week of healthy progress. It’s a zero sum game. He may have even taken a step back in terms of weight loss.

 

So what’s the point of this example?

 

Hoping and planning to accomplish your weight loss or fitness goals in one month – even three months – is setting yourself up for failure. You’re not accounting for life – it gets in the way. You’re going to have bad days and days that get you off track. That’s fine. It’s normal. You can’t be perfect every day.

 

Think of your resolution as a marathon.

 

Can you sprint marathons?

 

No, you can’t.

 

So remember when you start your resolution, it’s going to take time, it’s going to be difficult, results won’t come right away, and you might feel like giving up.

 

Don’t – because reaching that finish line will be the most satisfying feeling in the world.

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