-by Amanda Keller, MS, ATC, Wellness Coordinator, Orange City Area Health System
If 2020 taught us anything it’s that we can plan for the unexpected. Maybe the shutdowns created margin in your life you desperately needed. Maybe it caused the loss of a job or chaos at home with kids trying to learn from home. Change, out of our control. This is life! Can we, living this crazy life, still take steps to living a healthier life? Yes! Think about the idea of turning a dial with me.
Oftentimes in January we work up these big goals for our year and life telling ourselves we are all in! This all in mentality takes us two weeks or maybe even two months into the year, but often doesn’t take us too far past that. An all or nothing mindset can actually work against us. When our all in gets interrupted by the realities of life we are left with. . .nothing. So I would like to invite you to join me in a slight mindset shift, because believe me – I’ve been there too! No added sugar in my diet turns into careless sugar consumption. Organizing all the closets by March turns into a bigger mess than what I started with and everything crammed back into the still unorganized space, just to highlight a couple of my own past realities.
So let’s think about a slight shift in our mindset and ask ourselves the question, “How do I need to turn the dials today?” I love this idea – think of a dimmer switch or the volume dial for your car stereo. Sometimes, when we can handle it, you crank it up – music blaring, lights bright as can be. When we are in the right place physically, emotionally and mentally to handle the loud music and bright lights we really enjoy it and perhaps it even makes our lives better. But other times having the dial turned up too high might have the potential to cause harm or set us back. So let’s apply this to a wellness related area in our lives.
Exercise is a great place to start! Our bodies are designed to move. We know, from science, that achieving 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week will help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and ward off many chronic diseases. Picture for me what this looks like in your life! What do you enjoy doing, do you have any exercise goals? Perhaps you want to run a road race this spring for the first time. Maybe you want to build up stamina to be able to walk far enough so you can go from the parking lot, into the gym and up the bleachers without being winded and afraid of falling to enjoy your grandchild’s ball game. Maybe you are looking to improve your general fitness after the birth of a child. Whatever the goal is keep it mind and imagine a dial with 10 notches on it. Ten is achievable in those weeks where you have plenty of free time, you are healthy, you have been sleeping great and you are properly fueling your body with adequate nutrition. You may be thinking oh great, I’m never going to hit a ten. Don’t lose heart! Perfection is not the goal, after all we are human. It is important to define what a ten would look like for you. And if this area of life is a top priority for you maybe you do turn up the dial to a ten every now and then. But if this area of life isn’t one of your top priorities (and they can’t all be! Really maybe only one or two areas in life should receive our top priority stamp) this particular dial might switch between 3-7. If the thought of hovering around a 4-5 out of 10 makes you feel lazy or even some shame or guilt, banish those thoughts right now friend! Consistently being able to exercise at a 4-5 week after week, month after month is immeasurably more valuable than exercising at a 10 for two weeks every January and then doing nothing the rest of the year! Are you beginning to see it? ! I hope so! Small progress over time; keeping that dial turned on, is the exact recipe we need for building long-term, healthy habits and avoiding the off position where we do nothing.
Something is better than nothing! Maybe it’s a simple 10 minute bodyweight workout you do 3x/week right by your bed as you start your day! That’s a huge win 3 times every week and it’s better than nothing! Some days we are able to turn the dial up and do more, other days we need to turn it down and do less. Life is going to happen. Crazy comes and crazy goes. If you can take a few moments each day or week and evaluate your current level of crazy and make a plan to fit in with all the other demands you will win. We stay active and engaged in the battle and celebrate even the littlest of wins each and every day.
I will leave you with this:
- Aim for a little better rather than perfection
- Look around and get creative. Find a small – maybe even minuscule – improvement you can make with the energy and resource you have available this day!
- Anticipate, strategize and plan
- Consider as many different areas of life as you would like, nutrition, sleep, relationships, parenthood, work, etc. Some days we will have more time and energy for work and nutrition than we do exercise and relationships. That’s ok and it’s natural. Each area gets its own dial so we can turn them up or down individually – without ever having to shut any of them off completely!
- Ask yourself: -What’s likely to get in the way of what I hope to accomplish? -What is something I can do today to help me keep going when I face those obstacles? This is where a little bit of planning will help you succeed!
Don’t be surprised or dismayed when things seem hard or haywire. You can do hard things! Keep turning those dials and remind yourself 1-2 is still steady progress marching on to your goal. Something is better than nothing!