7 Principles for sustainable health and wellness
Improving your diet and lifestyle and building healthy habits is something 99% of people I see struggle with!
Despite what the sleazy salesfolk will try to tell you, there is no quick fix, no super smoothie and no “hack” that will magically transform you into a super healthy version of yourself overnight.
The key to long term, TRUE health lies far deeper than that.
The people that do best at nailing their habits and truly transforming their lives and their health are the ones who embrace a core set of principles. Here are my top 7 to get you started.
The best part? They’re all bout doing LESS and making things EASIER on yourself. Now THAT’S something I can get behind!
1. Ditch perfectionism + Embrace Progressionism
Oh perfectionism. The #1 thing that bumps people off that wagon time and time again. See these unrealistic expectations we inflict on ourselves (like working out 5 times a week, eating no takeaways, getting up at 6am and meditating for an hour before work) only drive us further into the hole. Life isn’t perfect and neither are we. In fact, perfection doesn’t even exist! The more we impose severe restrictions on ourselves, the more we set ourselves up for failure before we even start. Our subconscious mind KNOWS it’s not possible to do this forever, so it sets about finding a way to prove it. Hello self sabotage! Focusing on progress and doing just a little better today than yesterday is the key to sustainable change. Life should contain joy, indulgences and treats. So don’t deny and restrict yourself…ever! Focus on building better daily habits in the right way and you’ll learn to keep the balance right with ease.
2. Health is a daily practice – not a “one-and-done” event
If your diet or plan has an end date – get rid of it! Except for rare, health specific circumstances (like gut healing or allergy protocols), whatever you’re doing should be something you plan to (and CAN) do for life! Our health isn’t something we can look after once then forget about. Every meal and every day is your opportunity to nourish and protect your body and brain. So, make sure your intentions and actions are sustainable and realistic for the long term.
3. Work with what you have
How often have you fallen into the trap of “done for you” meal plans or cookie cutter programmes. They give you exactly what to eat and what workout to do each day, without any consideration of your skills, abilities, time, energy commitments, preferences etc. Instead, start by looking at what time, energy and skills you have NOW. How can you use those to make a little headway? Only got 5 minutes? Jump on your mat and do a 5 minute yoga blast. Got an hour? Head outside or to the gym for a more structured workout. Got zero extra time? Move your body while you’re doing something else – like balancing or squats while brushing your teeth or while talking on the phone. Making your actions adaptable to the time you have available means you can make progress no matter what you’re working with. You’re not overhauling your entire life and routine to fit someone elses plan. You’re making the plan fit YOU and reaping the rewards in the meantime.
4. Know your why
We’re all familiar with meaningless tasks. Stuffing envelopes, data entry etc…it all becomes SUCH a chore when there’s no meaning attached. But imagine now that those envelopes are filled with cheques for starving families to feed their children, or that data entry is to save someone’s life. Having a REASON for a task makes your desire to do the task (even menial ones) much greater. Same goes for your habits. You might want to shrug off cooking and opt for takeaway, but when you know that your mental health the next day relies on the nutrients in that homecooked meal, and that takeaway just stokes your inflammation and digestive upset, then you’re more likely to make the supportive choice. Connecting with your why happens on a bigger level too. Improving your health and productivity might mean being able to hepl more people through your passion driven business, or be a better parent to your kids. Now THAT’S a good reason to get on with even the most menial tasks!
5. Start Small
Getting started is the hardest part, so make it as simple as possible. Aiming for just 1% improvement is less intimidating and more manageable. While it may be less exciting than chasing a big win, it’s much more sustainable and your results will be more solid when you focus on a small piece at a time!
6. Use a strategy, not your willpower
Willpower is a finite resource. The more we use it the more it fatigues, and we often underestimate what zaps our willpower across the course of every day. Dealing with tantrumy children, deciding what to eat and cook, deciding what to wear, being pleasant to rude customers and colleagues…they’re all zap zap zapping our willpower! Having a solid strategy in place with a well thought out plan and a proactive attitude will help give you the structure and predetermined actions to take to reduce the reliance on your willpower to get you through.
7. Get accountable
People that have an accountability plan end up achieving WAY more than those who don’t. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%! That’s why the coaching industry is booming – the support and accountability a coach or programme can provide is unparalleled in helping you achieve your goals.
Your turn! How will you put this into action?
While it’s not rocket science, it can take a bit of work to take your foot off the gas and work on a progressionist mindset instead of the quick fix mindset we’ve been beaten into. But I promise you if you put a little work into embracing these principles, not only will your results soar but you’ll ditch all the stress and overwhelm in the process – and that’s just good for everybody!
What’s one thing you can do today to embrace and embody one of the 7 principles?