Thursday, November 19, 2009

Upgrade You: Diet and Fitness Self-Improvement Tips

By Amy Phillips-Gary

Losing weight and exercising more are two resolutions that just about everybody includes on his or her list of self improvements to make.

And just about everyone (with exceptions of course) somewhere along the line falls short of those goals. Those aspirations usually get swept aside and forgotten-- or used as a rationale for self-criticism and beating up on one's self.

If you'd like to upgrade yourself by making improvements in the ways you eat and/or your physical fitness, setting yourself up to succeed is a vital first step.

Too many of us dive right in to a new diet or exercise regimen with high hopes and, for whatever reason, we plateau, get bored or distracted or don't follow through completely. It can seem like we are failures at this. And for this reason, many of us give up trying.

Upgrade in a sustainable way...
Before you start to count calories or head off for your first run in years, I encourage you to get clear about the upgrade you want. From as observational a perspective as you can muster, look at where you are. What are your habits when it comes to eating and exercise? What do you consider your strengths and where are your weaknesses?

In a diet book I'm reading, The Thin Commandments: The Ten No-Fail Strategies for Permanent Weight Loss, author Stephen Gullo advises those who'd like to lose weight to know your food history.

He offers examples of clients he's worked with who, for example, have troublesome histories with cookies, but are not as tempted to binge when it comes to pudding. When a particular client keeps his or her history in mind, that person can actually eat dessert in moderation and continue to shed pounds.

Get to know what your history is with particular foods and then come up with strategies about how you can stay on your path of becoming thinner and do so in sustainable ways.

Think in terms of continually making life choices that are in alignment with the upgrade you desire, instead of short-term and possibly more extreme diets during which you might feel deprived and even starved.

Stay tuned in to your feelings. If you feel overwhelmed or intense emotions when you consider a particular upgrade, take the time to explore those emotions. What possible past events or old beliefs are those feelings tied to? Get curious and discover what you need to resolve as you move forward with these changes.

You can apply the notion of sustainability to your fitness improvements too.

If you tend to get bored on the exercise equipment at the gym, recognize that and come up with different fitness strategies. There countless ways to move your body-- experiment until you find a repertoire that is actually enjoyable.

Upgrade in a process-oriented way...
It's common to set goals for yourself when attempting to improve your fitness and diet. There's nothing wrong with goals, except that sometimes we become so hyper-focused on the outcome and “end goal,” we might miss or belittle our smaller achievements along the way.

I think that it's great to set an intention to lose 25 lbs, 50 lbs or more or less. It's equally wonderful to strive to lift a particular weight, run a certain number of miles and so on. Even so-called "failures" along the way can be viewed as opportunities for learning, clarification and choice.

As I said, goals can be great motivators-- when placed in a particular perspective.

Consider offering most of your attention to how you feel about yourself and your eating and exercise habits from moment-to-moment. Set your longer-term goal and then put it to the side symbolically. It's still there, but the majority of your focus is on the here and now.

Allow yourself a cheer when you find that your pants button easier than they used to, even if you aren't at that goal weight yet. Pat yourself on the back for getting outside for a brisk walk in the chilly rain, even if you aren't running the miles you want to yet.

It is this sense of presence and process that allows your upgrade to sustain and feel great. This practice will support your ability to continue to make improvements in all areas of your life.
*Personal Growth Planet blog is taking part in National Blog Posting Month ( Every weekday in November, you'll find daily blogs linked by weekly themes.

1 comment:

  1. Focusing on the process--that's a great way of looking at it.