Health, fitness and well-being for me, used to be about comparison and keeping up with the Joneses. It was about being more acceptable in other people's eyes and looking the part. I felt that if I wasn't looking and feeling great all the time, then I had missed the target. To attempt to meet this desired level of health and feeling of positive well-being I would be in over-drive. I would exhaust myself, looking for the magic bullet. I would work harder and longer, thinking this would bring me results. I would push so hard that I would be physically and mentally drained. I finally realised that as hard as I pushed, I would be met with an equal force back, and in effect head nowhere.
Nowadays, I want my approach to health and well-being to be authentic. I know that taking out the comparison, takes away the pressures and improves my mental well-being. I now understand I haven't failed if I haven't been perfect. In fact health and well-being can take care of itself, if given the right environment - mindset, to thrive. For me, that meant allowing myself to push on the breaks a little.
For me, being in the right mind-frame means not beating yourself up and hitting yourself with a stick as an approach towards better health and well-being. It's the opposite, it's when you are kind to yourself and let your body charge up rather than feeling low energy for a large part of the time. When you're in this mind-frame, the body and mind increases its energy and its resilience - in this state its desire to move, to be out in nature, to explore naturally arises. When you let your body and mind physically and emotionally charge, your body doesn't want to eat shit food and you don't want to sit in-front of the television all the time. When you charge up your body intuitively knows what it needs to feel cared for and healthy. Your mind can intuitively assess whether its mental and the physical boundaries have been breached and overwhelmed.
If you stop over-reaching, forcing and scalding your body and mind, like a naughty child, it will likely decide that it wants to do its home-work as it doesn't seem like so much like work at all, not at all like a chore, but rather a gift and an opportunity.
I have personally taken it easier by not doing the things I don't want to do. I no longer want to hit the gym so hard that my nervous system is burnt out. I personally no longer want to train my body more than 3-4 hours a week. I want days when I can do no exercise at all apart from getting out for a walk. I catch with awareness when the guilty feeling of my previous unhealthy mind-set shows up and gently bat it away. I no longer say yes (as often) when I mean no. This tendency to burnout, eventually burns out itself as there is a new internal understanding this this is not serving anyone and sustainable results do not come that way.
I no longer want perfection because it's impossible to reach, especially not if going at 100 miles per hour. Previously I would think the faster I went and the more I did I would reach this desired state but in fact the opposite happened. I felt weak and demotivated with the repeat cycle of stop and start.
Don't get me wrong, I aspire for self improvement. I feel this is natural and healthy. I want to feel great inside and out. At the same time I nurture an understanding that feeling great isn't a permanent physical and mental space - it will ebb and flow. The more I try to push, control and resist, the more it pushes back and there is no movement. It's ok to not feel fantastic or the time. It's fine for the body to feel less than at times and for our mental health to not feel fantastic every morning when we wake. Up to a point...
At the same time, it's important to catch myself when the challenge is so low that I feel stagnant. This feeling is the opposite of vibrancy. It's a fine balance but with a little insight it can comfortably be met.
I want to support myself and my clients as we navigate this experience to find balance towards feeling more vibrant. Yet we do not want to feel over-kill neither stagnancy - these both result is moving nowhere, just in different ways - both equality detrimental for the both and mind.
Over-kill (typically a natural tendency for me than stagnancy) leads to over-exhaustion, the feeling of being drained, when we set ourselves up to fail with ridiculous expectations on ourselves. this is when we are travelling too fast that we soon run our of fuel and come to a clunking stop, typically starting the cycle again, with it's impact on body and mind, both taking a hit. On the other hand, Stagnation is when we give up and stop actively participating in our own self-care, due to fear or laziness or limiting belief. Here we are not moving as motivation is no low or we feel 'what's the point' and that 'nothing changes anyway'. This also tests the body and mind in different ways, from feelings of depression and lethargy.
Finding Balance is the desired approach. This is when we step outside our comfort zone and look at our options and resources to grow, feeling alive and on a journey. This is when we have the right amount of challenge. This is when we have an awareness of over-kill sneaking in where or stagnation rearing its face. Balance is when we are not feeling regularly exhausted or lethargic. We feel that we can meet the daily demands in our stride, not stopping and starting or not getting started at all. Once we find this balance, the end result is feeling a sense of accomplishment and vibrancy - and feel balanced!
2020 has been a learning curve in the sense that it has forced me to soften up and be kinder to myself. This kinder approach to my health and well-being acts as a balancing force to the toughness of the aspects in our environment that we can not control. If we let ourselves be kinder and a little softer, then we can better adjust to the situation and our environment and its requirements with more malleability and sustained energy. We can re-coil when we need to charge up and in turn this will allow us to step up to the challenges when required, allowing ourselves to experience better health and more positive well-being than we could have ever imagined.
Keep in mind whether you need to push or pull up on the brakes to better manage your health and well-being journey. I wish you all a kinder 2021.