4 Mental Shifts That Helped Me Focus on My Health in 2018
Last Thanksgiving, I went to my mom’s house for dinner. At some point, I needed to use the restroom and when I walked in, I saw a scale sitting in the corner.
I have no idea what prompted me to weigh myself on Thanksgiving of all days but I did and was pretty shocked at the results. Let’s just say I had reached a number I had never seen before, other than maybe during pregnancy.
I’m not sure why that number hit me so hard. I mean, the scale had been gradually creeping up over the past seven years. But seeing that number confirmed what I knew deep down but hadn’t wanted to admit - I had become complacent about my health.
Finding a Reason to Change
I’m a freelance writer which means I spend the majority of my day sitting in front of my laptop. In the beginning, it gave me an excuse not to work out. I was always under deadline, I have to finish this first, blah, blah, blah.
But ironically, once I was ready freelancing gave me the incentive I needed to change. Because deep down knew I would never be as successful as I wanted to be if I didn’t take care of myself.
And after a year, I can honestly say working out and focusing on my health has improved every area of my life. I increased my freelance earnings by 50% this year and I largely credit that to working out. My sleep improved, my ability to focus improved, my energy improved, and so on.
As a writer, I love a good “How-to” article. So here are four mental shifts I made along the way that helped me change my health.
I acknowledged that I’m not fat
Ten years ago, I would’ve berated myself for how “fat” I had gotten. Thankfully, I’ve come to a place in my life where I am past all that.
Immediately after I saw that dreaded number, I told myself, “You look great and this isn’t about your weight. You’ve become complacent about your health and that’s okay. It happens. The important thing is that you recognize it now. Now, do you want to do something about this?”
In my youth, I have spent years working out as a punishment and I knew I wasn’t going down that road again.
I didn’t act immediately
I know this is contrary to a lot of what you read. Action is everything, right? It is but ultimately, I knew there were no quick fixes when it came to my health. I had to take some time to think about how I had gotten to where I was and process how I felt about it.
Once I realized I needed to make a change, I scheduled an appointment with my priority care doctor. Essentially, the conversation went like this: “I’ve gained 25 lbs over the last seven years and I want to do something about it. What do you suggest?”
Her advice was about what you would expect. Start working out. Try to eat better. Take a multivitamin. Drink more water. Nothing revolutionary, people.
I actually resisted this step at first for those exact reasons. “I know how to lose weight. What is she going to tell me that I don’t already know?”
Then the obvious sunk in: I’ve been steadily gaining weight for years, I don’t exercise, and I eat tons of sugar and processed foods. Maybe I DON’T actually know that much at all.
I kept it simple
My goal for 2018 actually was not to lose weight. My goal was to work out consistently for an entire year. At the time, I was 34-years-old and I realized this was something I had never done. I would go all in for a few months, then quit for several more months.
Over time, my “off” seasons become much longer than my “on” seasons. I decided that in 2018, I wanted to get in the habit of working out without quitting. And I’m happy to say I met that goal. I got into a good routine of working out 5 days a week.
The biggest thing I want to impress upon you is that getting healthy is first and foremost about your mindset and strategy comes second. A lot of people like to sell strategy and that’s useful to a point. But if you’re truly ready and have the right attitude, the strategy will work itself out. Change is an attitude, not an itinerary.