How to challenge your assumptions about health and fitness

March 9, 2017
How to challenge your assumptions about health and fitness

Hi there!

If you’re just joining us, we’re talking about that time I made a big, fat assumption about somefin I really care about—my health and fitness (and…waistline if we’re being real honest). If you missed the last post, might I suggest you start there? That’s where I make my case and try to convince you why you should care about this unhealthy lil’ habit that we ALL share.

Now onto part deux! With a newfound acceptance that it’s possible we’re making unconscious assumptions about our health and fitness, the million dollar question is—now what?

But first, a word about context.

Life is waaaaay too short to lose sleep over errything.

If your assumptions are working for you, even if just for right now, then have at ‘er. For example, say you assume that you can’t run a marathon (oh hi 🙋). If you don’t give a flying hoot about ever running a marathon, then no reason to test that theory. Given that we all so busay, the goal is to focus on the things that you do care about, and figure out what assumptions (if any) aren’t working work you or holding you back. Basically, assumptions that are preventing you from making life awesome(r).

 


Quick sidebar: As much as it’s human nature to assume, it’s human nature to procrastinate. And that’s why we carry some of these assumptions with us for so long—we don’t wanna change or do the work. So we don’t. And then, something forces us to and voila! Suddenly we can quit sugar, get up at 6am to work out or make lunches for the work week. I *totally* get this. But when it comes to your health, you really don’t want to wait until you’re in the position where you have no choice. So, where possible, we aim for a proactive approach—one where you’re the driver and not the passenger. You deserve better.


 

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way..

 

Part 3: Finding your unconscious assumptions

Sometimes, it’s easy. You know they’re there…you’re just choosing to ignore them because you don’t care enough. For now anyway. But other times, they’re lurking under the surface, like my assumption about commuting and putting on weight. I had to dig a bit to get there.

So…how do you smoke ‘em out?

Here are two questions to get you started:

What am I afraid of?

Or similarly:

Is there anything holding me back from achieving what I want?

As you think through these questions, you’re going to have to be real honest with yourself. And you may find that you have to keep poking around until you get to the truth…even if it’s not what you expected or wanted to find (who knew I was so vain? Wait—don’t answer that).

For anything you find, you’ll then need to question whether your belief is legitimately based on fact or your own personal experience. Ask yourself if you have…

  • Actually tried it?
  • Asked the question?
  • Done the research?

If the answer is mostly ‘no’ across the board, then this is a clear assumption that you’re making. If the answer is ‘yes’ to some or all questions, then you have some experience to draw from and can use this to your advantage when you figure out what to do next.

 

Part 4: Doing the work to make it happen

So you’re at the place where you can admit that you don’t actually know whether X, Y or Z is true. Great! Now comes the hard(er) part. Doing the work to get what you want, will, naturally, depend on what you’re after. Still, here is a 3-step process that I find helpful:

Step 1: Brainstorm as many different options as possible.

Guidelines to keep in mind:

  • If you have NO idea what to do next to achieve your goals, or how to make it fit your particular situation, Google is your best (online) friend and even better if you can find people who have been in your shoes.
  • If necessary, break it down into separate tasks / issues. An easy example is trying to lose weight, which will require you to look at your food AND exercise habits.
  • More often then not, changes have a ripple effect. So for each option, try to think through it as much as possible to get a sense of the full extent of the changes. Ask yourself, “If this, then what?” For example, if you want to start working out at 6am, what does that do to your nighttime routine?
  • Don’t make this step too complicated! In many cases, you can simply do this exercise in your mind so don’t bust out the Excel spreadsheet unless you really have to.

Step 2: Choose one option to test first.

Guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Depending on the number of tasks / issues from step 1, you may choose to focus on one until you gain momentum and feel ready to tackle the rest. However, if you’re more of the “go hard then go home” type, that’s cool too.
  2. Try to choose the option that causes the least disruption to your life. It’s just easier.
  3. They say it takes 21 days to change a routine. I say aim for at least a two-week trial period.

Step 3: Adjust as necessary.

Inevitably, you’re going to hit some bumps in the road. Fear not assumption challengers! All information gained is GOOD so as you figure out what’s working and what isn’t, you’ll be able to course correct. If you think you’re still on the right track, then tweak and keep going. If you need a complete reboot, simply choose another option to test.

But still.

What if doing the work…doesn’t work?

Despite my cheerleading and your best efforts…sometimes you may not 100% nail your goal. Maybe you won’t be able to fit into your pre-baby jeans, get your husband to go vegan, or eat at the dinner table as a family every weeknight.

At this stage, you still have a few options:

  • Quit while you’re ahead – a 20lb weight loss deserves a big pat on the back, even if your original goal was 30lb.
  • Adjust the goal – maybe eating together every night is too ambitious, but Tuesday and Thursday nights are totally doable.
  • Change your strategy – when it comes to new routines, often we need to play around with a few different variations until we find “the one” that works. So don’t give up!
  • Postpone until you’re ready – sometimes, it’s a question of changing your mind. Maybe you figured out that you don’t care as much as you thought you did. Or you do care, but aren’t prepared to do the work right now cuz it’s not a priority. Unless it’s a medical crisis of sorts, you can likely push it out until you have the time to give it your all.

 

Regardless of where you go from here, you’re basing it on your actual experience. Huzzah!

On that note, here’s one last personal story to close this baby out and bring it all home.

 


How I got my new routine down pat

When trying to sort out my new commuting situ, I decided to solve my exercise “problem” first. Before the move, I was exercising after work. Post-move (1.5 hours from my job), I could continue with this routine or find something else.

There were four logical options to choose from:

  1. exercise before work
  2. exercise during lunch hour
  3. exercise after work
  4. exercise on the weekends

I quickly vetoed #1 (um, yeah, no) and #4 (um, yeah, no) so that left lunch and after work. I knew that working out during lunch meant that I’d have to bring my gym clothes, deal with the shower and what if I had a meeting? In the end, I chose the option least disruptive to my current routine—exercising after work in Waterloo and then driving home. From there, I turned my attention to the consequences flowing from that decision, namely that I would be arriving home and eating dinner WAY later than before. This, in turn, meant that if I didn’t have food in the house at 8pm, I was eating takeout or starving.

(fyi, KDS got home late too so tasking him with the cooking wasn’t going to help)

I wasn’t willing to give up on healthy dinners so I knew some major changes were required. Over time, I learned to…

  • Meal plan every week.
  • Simplify everything about my cooking routine, from our weekly dinner rotation, to my pantry and individual recipes.
  • Choose different recipes to cook…ones that were as QUICK as they were healthy.
  • Substitute ingredients like a mad woman.
  • Love leftovers and clean-out-the-fridge dinners.
  • Accept a later dinner time as the new normal and started carrying apples or granola bars on my person at all times – staples during my nightly commute.

Of course, like anything worthwhile, there was an upfront investment of time. I can’t deny that. And I didn’t perfect my new routine overnight—this was a longer process with a lot of trial and error. However, I eventually got the hang of it and these new habits just became my habits, ones that I’m still rolling with today (and blogging about!). Habits, as you know, are the holy grail cuz they make life easy. Easy is my jam, and I’m willing to bet it’s yours too.


 

THE END. For real.

I hope this hasn’t come off as a schmaltzy or annoying “You can do/be/have anything you want!” kinda blog post. As smart people, we know that life doesn’t work like that. Still, I’m legit passionate about being as healthy and happy as you can be…without it taking a zillion hours. So for the sake of your health and what’s important to you, I encourage you to give yourself a fair shot. You may not win them all, but you can do, be and have MORE.

Cheers to an awesome(r) life, friends.

Are your assumptions making you fat? Easy greek pita pizza

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