A few years ago, I went through a health program that really transformed my life. It changed the way I thought about nutrition, it gave me a deeper understanding of how my body works and responds to different foods and I felt the best I’ve ever felt. Then, during the difficult year that 2020 was, my mental health really took a hit, and some of those healthy habits I had formed over the previous year and a half eroded and others abruptly stopped.
At first, I noticed the consequences in small things, like a little bit of tightness in my waistline on pants that had fit comfortably before. As those things started to happen, I was disappointed and embarrassed, but also still in a deep valley of mental health that didn’t allow me at the time to do something about it.
Here we are, nearly a year and a half since the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m in a far better headspace. I’ve found a protocol for my anxiety that is working well, and things have settled down in life a lot since then. But, those healthy habits didn’t just reset and I find myself at a pivotal moment where I’m dusting myself off and considering what’s next.
When I think about what I was doing before that worked so well for me, I feel concerned about restarting it without modification, because it was too easy for me to abandon when life became difficult. In fact, in some ways, abandoning that disciplined approach and indulging myself was a great comfort at the time. It felt like sweet relief to eat a handful of peanut butter M&Ms when the world was falling apart because at least I still could control that.
We live in a time where we have a tremendous amount of information at our fingertips every second. So much so that, often, it can feel overwhelming and impossible to know who to look to as a trustworthy guide on any topic.
At this very moment, as I’m considering what a sustainable rhythm of healthy diet and exercise look like for me, I can find every possible opinion, program, plan and Ponzi scheme with a mere Google search. It’s confusing and it’s daunting.
Moreover, figuring out what will work for me, personally, is an entirely different game of self-awareness. What will I commit to doing, even when life is hard? What will I not get bored with? What will not feel so restrictive that I rebel against it, but will have enough structure to be effective? What will help to foster discipline for this inherently gluttonous soul?
As I stand on this precipice, I know I need to do something. There are acute pain issues I’m dealing with that I know are a direct result of the state of my physical wellness. I know that, long term, I want and need to care for my body more effectively if I want the next seasons of my life to be what I dream of.
So, if you, like me, are in the same spot, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to do something.
I’m going to build a small amount of exercise into my schedule, to rebuild that habit. In time, I can build upon that. I’m going to add more vegetables into my daily diet, and I’m going to reduce the amount of sugar, white carbohydrates and dairy I’ve been consuming, because I know that my body doesn’t feel awesome when I eat those.
And, because I know that I’m not good at easing into a new dietary habit, I’m going to start with a more restrictive dietary detox for a couple of weeks as a foundation for better habits. I’m going to tell my close friends and write about it in order to hold myself accountable, because I know I’m inherently too permissive about such things when left to my own devices.
Then, on the other side of this, I’m going to figure out who I can look to as a guide moving forward if I wobble and can’t quite figure out the best plan on my own. Whether it be a nutritionist, a health coach, a program, a personal trainer, or a therapist, I will ask for help where I need it from a proven and trusted expert.
Sometimes, I think, the activation energy is the hardest part of starting something new. It’s the starting that gets you. Because, once you’re a bit of the way into a healthy new habit, or a revived healthy habit, you always wonder why you didn’t start sooner.