There are three traits shared by people who are able to sustain a healthy lifestyle, achieve their fitness and weight goals and still enjoy themselves. These individuals have clarity, confidence and control which means they have the right information, the right mindset and the right plan.
Having good information and knowing what works for your body is a must for making good choices. Developing a plan, or habits, based on bad information or the wrong information for your body and lifestyle, will get you active but will not achieve your goals.
Individuals who achieve their health and fitness goals have good information. The information that drives their decision-making is accurate and comes from experts, not the media. They don’t follow the latest fad. Social media and the internet propagate an abundance of inaccurate, misleading and marketing-driven information. These individuals know to ignore information that is not validated by a reliable source.
Health information literacy refers to one’s ability to “find, evaluate and use accurate and relevant information for health improvement.” To achieve clarity with health and wellness information, you must turn on mental filters. Realize that much of what you read or hear is not science based and is likely being promoted to sell a product. To avoid falling victim to bad information, find trusted online sources, books, webcasts and experts in your community to provide reliable information. Follow what these people publish and talk to them if you have the opportunity.
Don’t believe anything that sounds like a shortcut or that is extreme. Instead, find sources of information that support a balanced diet, consistent physical activity, regular sleep, stress reduction and hydration.
Clarity not only comes from increased knowledge, but from experiencing what works best for you as an individual. When you are trying something new, pay attention to how your body reacts. How do you feel? How likely are you to maintain this change? This awareness adds to your clarity.
Following a plan and developing good lifestyle habits puts you in control of your actions and removes many of the barriers to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. The plan should be based on good information (see clarity above).
“You are what you repeatedly do.” — Aristotle
Therefore, we are our habits.
Making a decision can be the greatest hurdle to improvement because there are often too many options and people get overwhelmed, confused and worn out. What to eat? What workout to do? What to wear?
Quite simply we are sometimes too mentally exhausted to make sound decisions. That’s why having a good plan and following it is so helpful. It eliminates the need to make decisions in the moment. If you plan your food and your workouts you will be immensely more successful than if you wing it.
Self-efficacy is the single greatest determinant of success with a physical activity program for adults. Feeling confident comes from a combination of personal experience, vicarious experience and social support.
Our bodies only do what our minds tell them to do. Having great information and a great plan will get you nowhere if your mind tells your body that you won’t be successful.
Believing you can be successful with healthy eating and physical activity can be a leap of faith at first. As you gain experience and surround yourself with others who have been successful with these lifestyle factors you build your knowledge and confidence. You also build a support network of support and mentors.
Then one day, when you least expect it, you will realize that people are now turning to you for advice. Just remember, every expert was once a beginner who knew very little but started anyway.
“So, if you ever think “I can’t do that. I don’t know how” just get started. Regardless of where you begin have faith that you will be successful as long as you have clarity, control and confidence.”