Healthy living. We all want it. We all know we need it. Yet so few of us actually achieve the results we envision for ourselves when it comes to that healthy life.
We try diet pills, fad diets, celebrity workouts, waist-trainers, fancy kitchen equipment, subscription boxes…
Maybe some of those work for a little bit, but you know in your heart that there’s no shortcuts when it comes to healthy living. The results you see are short-lived and ultimately land you right back where you started–frustrated, unsatisfied with your lifestyle, maybe disgusted with yourself, and already looking for that next one thing that will revolutionize your life.
Girlfriend, I wish I could tell you there was a magic pill or one exercise that Carrie Underwood does to get those killer mini-skirt ready legs. But if you’ve been around me long enough you know that I absolutely do not believe that there is one thing that will rocket you from couch potato to hot fries that everyone wants in X amount of days.
As a health coach, I work with clients who all want different things, like different foods, excel at different exercise programs, and whose bodies are all different from start to end of their program. I don’t use one-size-fits-all programs or diets, and the beauty of that is that clients learn how to adapt their individual preferences, lifestyles, work environments, etc… to fit their unique goals. I will be up-front about this always.
I cannot sit down with a stay-at-home parent and a working professional who puts in 70-80 hours per week at their job and have their ideal lifestyles look exactly the same. It’s just not possible and using that one-size-fits all approach does nothing to help either one of those people.
Enough blabber, Megan. Get to the good stuff!
So we’ve established that everyone is vastly different and so their lifestyle design needs to be equally different in how we approach it.
We get that.
But are there at least some basic steps that anyone can use to start crafting their dream lifestyle and actually getting the results they want?
YES. YES. AND YES!
Every painter might have the same brush and paints, but their artwork is totally different. So here are your tools with which to start painting your dream lifestyle.
You can either do this on paper, or you can find a quiet place to just sit with your eyes closed and focus. I want you to look into your future and imagine that all your dreams came true and you are living exactly the way you want to be. Future-you has no wants, no limitations, no barriers. It’s your dream so get creative. Picture what future-you looks like physically. Is she fit and healthy? Is she thick or thin? Does she embrace gray hair or color it? Does she wear tailored business suits, or loose, flowy garments in soft colors?
Next think about where she lives. By the beach, or in the city? Apartment living, or does she own her home? What kind of vibes does her decor say about her? Is she a minimalist who wastes no time and energy on the material things that do not bring her joy? Does she fill her house with plants and books and cushy chairs for reading? Does she have pets?
And most importantly, what does her daily routine look like? Does she get up at the crack of dawn to workout before heading to her high-powered job? Does she wake when she feels like it and then wanders onto her patio with a cup of coffee to watch the sun rise? Does she have kids that she marshalls together and gets off to school with ease and organization? Does she work, or stay at home? Is she an entrepreneur, an artist, a tradesperson, or a parent? Or all of the above?
Be very specific in your mind (or on paper) about visualizing what this future-you does with her day, how she feels about her work, and what she invests her time into. This should be 100% based of your current desires and goals for your life, and should assume that nothing is impossible or out of your league.
I hope future you is living it up to her fullest potential, loving her life, and creating an impact on others, because that is what life should be all about.
This part may be boring, but I promise you that it is essential and can be very eye-opening. Again, this can be done on paper (and perhaps it is better that way so you have a record of this exercise to reflect on) or you can just do it mentally.
I want you to write or think of current-you and how you are spending your time right now. Take it day by day and think about what time you get up, what you are investing most of your energy into and how that energy expenditure makes you feel (drained or passionate?).
How do you spend your free time? Does your free time help you relax, or do you use it to propel yourself towards your goals? How many hours a day do you work for someone else’s goals, and how many are you putting towards yours? Are you spending time with your family/friends? Do you love your morning routine? Does your work make you feel satisfied? Do you set aside time from your day to nourish your body and soul properly?
How are you doing financially? What does your home environment look like? How are your relationships? Are you satisfied with the way those things are now?
I remember reading one of my favorite books, Playing Big by Tara Mohr, for the first time and how the author guided me through an exercise much like this. It wasn’t terribly comfortable and I felt the weight of all this guilt and unhappiness settling inside me because in truth I hated certain parts of my life at the time. I didn’t know what I know now.
I know now that I possess the ability to either change what I don’t like about my life or change myself to adapt to what I don’t like about my life.
And that tiny mindset shift is the powerful difference between being a victim of your life and being a victor over your life.
So you’ve looked ahead to future-you and by now you’ve compared her to current-you. While I hope there is not much difference between the two, I know from personal experience that there probably are some glaring differences that you would love to change.
The action planning session we’re in right now should definitely be done on paper. I want you to have a physical, visual reminder of what you want to change and how you are going to do it. The goals you write down here should be small but actionable. If you’re struggling with what to write down, think back to future-you. In the guided exercises in Playing Big, Tara Mohr refers to future-you as your inner mentor, and truly that is what future-you should be. When you are looking at what you are doing every day your inner mentor should be there in your mind to tell you if what you are doing is going to get you to where you want to be in the future.
On a sheet of paper I want you to create sections for each of the following aspects of healthy living:
- Home environment
- Physical activity
In each of these sections you should be thinking about what current-you needs to be doing differently in order to align with future-you and her lifestyle.
When I did this exercise I was working in job that I liked reasonably well but I still hated going to work because of this one coworker relationship that was full of tension and dislike. I dreaded having to deal with that every day and it was both physically and mentally draining having to walk on eggshells around this coworker. I knew I wouldn’t quit my job. I loved other aspects of my work and had landed this job because I had suddenly quit my previous job with no other prospects lined up. I knew I wouldn’t give up what I loved about my job because of this one relationship. I wouldn’t put my husband through the stress and uncertainty of being the sole breadwinner again.
I knew I had options.
I could request to be transferred to a different clinic. It would mean more of a commute, more gas, more early days, but it was possible I would end up with coworkers I loved.
Or I could change my mindset. This felt more doable and less risky than the first option.
So instead of drastically changing my whole workplace and routine, I focused on venting my frustrations about this coworker privately (mainly my husband, NOT social media), taking care of myself at home so I didn’t burn out at work, learning to bite back the things I wanted to say but knew I would regret, and being open and honest in workplace conflict resolution meetings.
Ultimately I would no longer work with that particular person, but the time that I did work with them became more manageable and less draining because of the mindset shifts I was able to undergo with the support of others.
Try to write down 2-3 small action steps you can make in each category that will bring you into alignment with your goals.
Want to eat healthier but don’t want to go on a fad diet or pay for expensive meal plans?
Some easy action steps might be eating fruit with every breakfast, making coffee at home instead of buying that sugary Starbucks, asking for veggies instead of fries with that burger, drinking almond milk instead of animal milk, or buying the taco salad instead of the grande burrito when you’re stopping a Muchas Gracias because you didn’t have time to prep you lunch.
Here is a sample of some of my action steps that I created for myself that you can adapt for your own goals. Remember, your action plan will probably look different and bring different results and that is our goals here!
- Work: if I can’t say something nice then keep my mouth shut, apologize for mistakes or personal issues as soon as possible, commit one hour per day to working on my own entrepreneurial goals.
- Home environment: wash my bowl out after breakfast, get some fresh air each morning as soon as possible, surround myself with more plants and spend time each evening outside.
- Finances: be more open with my hubby about my financial fears, limit myself to one small personal splurge per week (I’m a terrible impulse buyer and I love retail therapy too much!).
- Physical activity: walk for at least 20 minutes on my lunch breaks, work out with my gym buddy twice a week, attend jiu jitsu class twice a week.
- Relationships: no phones in the bedroom, communicate honestly about my need for personal space around family members, don’t engage in political debates with family members.
- Nutrition: veggies with dinner every day, eat a high-protein lunch so I don’t have an afternoon food-coma, try to use almond flour instead of regular flour when baking.
The awesome thing about action planning is once you build your action steps into your daily routine you are already like 12-15 steps closer to future-you and her lifestyle. Make sure after a period of time (maybe one a month or once a quarter) that you repeat the Self-Assessment step and create new action steps to continue building the lifestyle you want and continue weeding out old practices that no longer serve you.
There is no one thing to become the person you want to be. Life is made up of millions of tiny moments just like this one, so make sure you make those moments about impacting others, living your life in a way you love, and living to your fullest potential. Don’t just wait for those moments–create them!