June 2022 Issue
Energy Express by Marilynn Preston
Personal well-being is very personal. It's not about the size of your belly or how many crunches you can do, and it's certainly not about how many times you've been to the gym in the last week. Or year. Decade, anyone?
So play along with me here: On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the top of Mount Everest for health and happiness, where would you put yourself right now, today, when it comes to your personal well-being? No excuses, no regrets, no judging—just a number between one and 10.
Think for a minute. Take a few breaths. This is called "tuning in."
Whatever number you came up with, here's the very good news: You already have the talent, skill and ability to crank it up a notch, if you want to, if you're resilient. And you can do it as soon as this summer. But how does change happen? Here's a handy primer, a short and simple list of steps to follow that will make you more likely to succeed.
STEP ONE: CHOOSE A GOAL.
Pick something realistic—not too hard, not too easy—that moves you in the direction you want to go. Notice I said "you."
I can't tell you what to do to improve your well-being. Well, I can—I’m a healthy lifestyle expert, trainer and coach, writer of America's longest-running fitness column—but my telling you what you should do isn't going to move you in the direction of your dreams.
Because they're your dreams. Maybe you want to quit a boring job you hate and spend your days grooming poodles. Maybe you're dreaming about learning to surf, or just going to the beach and feeling good about the body you have. Maybe your goal for boosting your well-being is simply to stop eating so much sugar (and there is nothing simple about that).
Warning! Once you start tuning in, you may think of five or 10 self-improvements. Resist! Just zone in on one goal that you're most interested in, a goal that keeps coming up because it's something you really want for yourself but don't know how to accomplish.
(That's why I'm here.)
STEP TWO: WRITE IT DOWN.
Making change is a process, and keeping track of your personal journey is a huge help in making it happen. Really! Keeping a journal—noting what you're doing, how it's going—will focus your mind. Even if it's just for a few minutes. A 30-second journal entry once a day is 100 percent better for behavior change than keeping no journal at all.
STEP THREE: MAKE YOUR GOAL SMALL AND DOABLE.
Unrealistic goals get in the way of your success, and it's experiencing success after success—small but continuous—that accelerates forward motion.
If, for example, you're not a runner now, don't bother setting a goal to run a full marathon next month. It would put way too much pressure on you. Ease off and create a goal that is so simple, so easy, you will succeed with reasonable effort.
Keep in mind: You're not striving for perfection. Plus, backsliding is normal. Two steps forward, one step back. You didn't think change was linear, did you?
STEP FOUR: DETAIL YOUR PLAN.
You can't skip this part and just vaguely remember your goal from time to time. Once you've written down your goal, come up with a day-by-day, week-by-week action plan to make it happen.
"On Tuesday and Thursday I will go to Yogaview for a 7 p.m. class with ..." is the kind of detailed action step you need for having more yoga in your life.
Think through the obstacles... and eliminate them one by one. It might mean arranging for child care. It might mean negotiating with friends and family so you get the support you need to follow your plan. It might mean working with a coach, or partnering with a friend.
When you eliminate the obstacles, you also release your fear of making change, which is part of what's been holding you back.
Revisit your action steps once a week to see how you're doing. Praise your effort; accept your shortcomings. Then decide on your next week's set of action steps...
And so it goes. Victory!
START WHERE YOU ARE
“Afraid? Me? A man who's licked his weight in wild caterpillars? Afraid?
You bet I'm afraid!”
Marilynn Preston—healthy lifestyle expert, well being coach and Emmy-winning producer—is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. Follow her at www.marilynnpreston.com.
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