I'm not going to sugarcoat this.
Nobody wants to be healthy "just because."
You're probably dealing with a health issue (like fatigue, insomnia, weight gain or a chronic illness) that greatly impacts your life in a negative way.
If you're like I used to be, you're skeptical that you'll actually make the lasting changes needed to get the health you desire. I know exactly how you feel.
I've jumped on the "I'm going to get healthy" train more times than I'd like to admit... usually around the new year, swimsuit season or a special event (like an upcoming reunion or wedding).
I'd put my heart and soul into making changes. But, unfortunately, after a few weeks I'd fall off the "healthy train." I'd skip the gym, sneak unhealthy food, and cancel my much-needed doctor's appointment.
The same old story would resurface in my mind: "I can't do this. I guess I'm destined to feel like crap the rest of my life. I'm just one of the unlucky ones. It'll never change."
Thankfully, that was many years ago.
Since then, I've recognized the reasons most people (including myself) "failed" when it came to making lasting health changes.
Before I get into the pitfalls and how to avoid them, I want to remind you of this: Creating lasting change is a deeply spiritual journey because it requires you to deeply connect with your heart and soul.
If you're ready to change your story, here are six steps that can help you make lasting health changes in your life.
● Work with a Health Care Provider
Being your own health care provider won't set you up for success in the way an experienced practitioner can. It's impossible to be objective about yourself. There are many holistically-minded physicians who love working with people on a deeper level. If you haven't found a health-care provider that you resonate with, don't give up! It's becoming easier to find good practitioners (and many, like myself, do online consultations).
A skilled health care provider can help you focus in on the specific things that make the most impact in your health. They will assure you a correct diagnosis, order routine and specialized lab work (like food sensitivity panels or salivary adrenal panels), and thoroughly understand you and how your body works (because one size doesn't fit all).
Find someone with whom you can have regular contact with, who takes the time to really get to know you, and who is excited to partner with you to achieve your health goals.
● Create a Simple Protocol
Work with your health care provider to formulate a simple plan... with the emphasis being on simple! The more complicated and intricate the protocol, the more likely you'll not be able to complete it. Some of the simplest things (i.e. drinking adequate water) have tremendous benefit to our health.
Start with the end goal in mind. Where do you want to be in a month or in a year from now? Determine what simple steps will get you there. Start with a few things that make the biggest impact and then add slowly from there.
Remember: If it's not doable, it doesn't get done.
● Plan Ahead
Not planning ahead will almost always set you up for failure. How many times have been on a healthy eating plan and forgotten your sack lunch (and fast food is all there is in sight)?
It's so easy to be healthy when you plan ahead... sometimes it doesn't even feel like work! All it takes is a few minutes out of your day (the veggies won't wash and cut themselves) and you can be set for the week. Imagine opening the refrigerator and seeing healthy food already prepped and ready for you.
Take the time to think about the next week or month. What do you need to make good choices? Food prep? Packing gym clothes the night before? A water bottle you can take with you?
We tend to get derailed when we're tired, overwhelmed, or running late. Know what may get you tripped up for the week (like a late meeting or kids' pizza party) and plan for it.
● Create Accountability
This is one of my secret weapons with clients. There's something powerful about having a "check-in buddy" who will encourage you through the baby steps, milestones and off days.
Find a friend, acquaintance, health care provider, or coach with whom you can have regular contact. Some clients will email or text me every day to check in. And, I've even had clients post their accountability on social media.
Tell your accountability partner your plan for when you're ready to give up and quit. I'll even ask my clients, "When you're ready to quit what do you need to hear from me?" We're all different: some of us need a good ass kicking and others just need a hug.
● Make It Enjoyable
Nobody wants a healthy lifestyle plan that is boring, painful, or in any way awkward or uncomfortable. That doesn't create longevity on the road to wellness. If you are confused on how to even combine "healthy" and "fun," don't fret. A quick Internet search (like "healthy and fun activities") will get the creative juices flowing.
And, don't forget a good old-fashioned reward system! As a kiddo, I'd do pretty much anything to get gold star or a pat on the back. How can you reward yourself? Even though I can buy a new pair of shoes any day, buying those sassy red heels after completing a 30-day health challenge brought me an endless supply of endorphins.
● Be Holistically Mindful
Anything in our lives that requires the deepest parts of our beings (including changing our health) is a deeply spiritual experience. Being open to the things that may come up (such as fears or resistance) could open up parts of us we'd rather not touch. But, true healing must happen deep within our spirits alongside our bodies.
As holistic beings (mind, body, and spirit) focusing on one part (body) can only take us so far. It's like trying to balance a three-legged stool when you only have one leg.
The clients who have the most success with me are those who know they are on a spiritual healing journey... and a healthy body is the side effect of a deeply examined and changed life.
Work with your health care provider, therapist or spiritual guru to help guide you through this process. Using tools like meditation, prayer, journaling, mindfulness, and affirmations can help you along the way.
What would it feel like to finally have the health you desire? Imagine jumping out of bed every morning, ready to start your day, because you look and feel amazing in your body.
Planning ahead, getting together your team of health care practitioners and accountability partners, and creating a fun, doable plan are some of my "no fail" tricks for achieving the level of wellness you desire. Be mindful that changing your health is one of the most powerful, spiritual (and potentially difficult) journeys you'll ever go on. It changes you in such profound ways that wellness and health just ooze out of your being.
Never give up. Life will throw you curve balls, drag you down, and try to knock you out... it's inevitable. But, through persistence and determination you'll reap the kind of benefits that'll give you goosebumps.