Many of our clients don't quite understand the process of a healthy lifestyle when they come aboard to our personal training facility. Often times, he/she has had a struggle with "diets" that haven't worked and invariably led to frustration and further weight gain or impeded progress. To fully commit to a life of proper eating and physical activity, I have found that there is usually a specific time or event that causes a shift in their mentality. Many clients have told me it's been seeing themselves in a picture or video that really made them decide something needs to change. For others, it's a health scare that accompanies a doctor visit. Hopefully it's the former, and not the latter.
At Welligee, we generally are very blunt with people about this topic, as it is a serious matter and should be treated that way. Poor diet and inactivity are the two worst things anyone can do for their health. Clearly, that is common knowledge, but it seems to be a problem that is only getting worse. Changing these habits is mainly what we do, but it can be a real challenge sometimes, especially when there's a lot to be done.
What needs to be understood is that small changes can eventually equate to very large changes in the long run, and it's ok to take things slowly. Especially in the beginning, substituting current foods in the diet with other, healthier options is a small, yet effective goal. For example, eat whole grain bread without any syrups or sugars instead of white bread or "wheat" bread. In terms of physical activity, walking 20 minutes per day for is a good start as well. These are easy changes to which almost anyone can stick. It will often be these small changes that snowball into larger ones. This in itself begins the process of a lifestyle change.
Over time, many of these specific substitutions or small efforts take effect, and what once was a very dismal prognosis, has transformed into a lifestyle that actually begins to improve health and well-being. It's at this time that someone will begin to feel the effects of the change in diet. Weight loss tends to be accelerated, mood improves, and the person generally feels much more energetic. The positives thus far have now made it easy to make greater strides toward a healthy lifestyle and more dramatic changes can be made. Increasing a run an extra ten minutes, or attempting to eliminate the vast majority of sweets from the diet seems much more realistic than it perhaps once had.
In the long run, it's important not to lose sight of the reason why you embarked on this journey. When plateaus occur, the driving forces behind your transformation serve to further motivate you, as this is more of a marathon than a sprint.
Ryne Gioviano, M.S.Ed., NSCA-CPT
Owner of Welligee Personal Training & Lifestyle