“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
This phrase seems to pop up every time we are about to make a very big life decision. While it is quite inspiring, this pearl of wisdom may come across as a little overwhelming. I know it was for me when I first thought about lifting weights back in 2009. I began imagining a long, winding and daunting road ahead. I second-guessed myself whether I deserved this lifestyle or not. Because of fear, it took a while before finally getting a gym membership. If it weren’t for my neighbor and childhood friend who called me asking to be gym partners, I would’ve never taken that first step. Psychologists call this internal push and pull, “analysis by paralysis.” When we focus on the fitness journey of a thousand miles, it’s easy to get scared of the rocky road ahead. Will I have to give up some of the food I like? Would my workout clothes look nice? For sure there’s a lot of body aches and injuries involved in order to reach the summit!
I was lucky to have someone pull me out of my head and push me into the weight room. But not everyone has this person in their lives. If you feel like you have no one right now to help you make the decision, then let me invite you to pause for a moment. Because to overcome the mountain, you first need to get a feel for the ground.
Pin your current location
Knowing your goals is great. That’s like visualizing yourself at the summit of the mountain. But before focusing on your goals, I encourage you to focus on where you are right now. What’s your current location like? Are you sedentary? What resources are available to you? Maybe you’re a mom of 3 and are loaded with home schooling? Maybe you have underlying medical conditions that you need to address first before exercising?
No matter who you are and where you are right now, there is a way for you to reach the summit. For some it might take longer. For some, a little bit faster. But no matter your starting point, there is a road specifically for you. The usual advise of working out 3 days a week may be too much for you if you’re juggling 2 jobs. Doing a HIIT session even once a week may be counter-productive if you have hypertension. There are many ways to reach your goal, but there is only one way to fail at it–taking a route that does not meet you at your current location.
So before taking that first step to the summit, I invite you to pin your current location. Here are some points that can help you:
1. Limiting Factors. Being fit and healthy is about adopting new habits but each of us already carry our own burdens and responsibilities. What are some limiting factors that may hinder you from getting a consistent exercise routine or regularly eating nutritious food? Maybe you live in a household that doesn’t share the same views about health? What compromises can you make to work around these limiting factors? The universe hates a void and to make space for new habits, you need to let go of the ones that don’t serve you.
2. Eating Habits. Do you eat at the same time everyday or do you just eat whenever you feel like it? Treating food as fuel for your health rather than a means to soothe a bad day is the key to having a good relationship with food. When your mindset towards food is for the long term benefits, each meal counts. Each meal becomes a building block for a kingdom of health. But when your mindset is for the short-term pleasures, you won’t count each meal even if the food does not support your health. Before taking on a new “diet plan”, examine first your eating habits and your relationship with food. Many people start out great only to crash 3 months in because they’ve incorporated a restrictive diet that messed up their mental health because they did not understand why and how they ate.
3. What’s in Your Control? Often times, when we set our minds to reach a goal we try to control everything–even things we really can’t. Other people’s opinions, the weather and the box of donuts that your dad brings home are some things we can’t control. What we can control is how we react and respond to our environment. Viktor Frankl once said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In this space is about ability to choose and in our choice lies our freedom.” Always keep in touch with your priorities and cultivate this space before trying to control everything. When you’re fully aware of your values and mindful on how to respond, it’s easier to see what you can or cannot control, say no to bad influences and say yes to yourself.
Every Monday to Saturday at 8am to 12pm, I am conducting free assessments where I would introduce myself, give my background as a coach, tell you about my programs and answer your questions. If you’re interested in pinning your current location and get a clear plan to reach your summit, send me a message so we can book your slot.