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The mental challenge of being healthy

Take good care of yourself: see working out as a way to show respect for your body and the wonderful machine that it is

Have you ever wondered how it is that we have so many people who are obese and suffering from diseases associated with being overweight?

That’s despite us living in a time when we have more information then ever before about eating healthy, exercising effectively and making positive lifestyle choices, and all of it freely available at our fingertips.

Have you questioned why it’s so difficult to stick to an exercise plan or diet for more than just a few weeks?

Or, wondered why relapsing and gaining back the weight you’ve lost, after weeks and months of training hard and dieting, is so easy to do?

The truth is, the practical side of getting fit, healthy and in shape isn’t actually that difficult; it really is the basic premise of “move more, eat less”. The biggest obstacle we face in achieving these things is, in fact, our attitude and mindset towards working out and eating healthy.

That’s right, like so many things in life, it’s a case of mind over matter.

Deep down, we all know that we need to exercise and make good dietary choices, and thanks to the mountains of information that’s at our disposal, we know what practical steps to take, or at the very least, it isn’t impossible to seek these resources.

However, the thing most trainers or exercise plans don’t tell you when you embark on your fitness journey, is that this is going to be as much of a mental overhaul and challenge, as it is physical.

The problem is, there’s a lot of focus on changing the practical elements of what you’re doing — physically implementing your workouts, following the diet plan — but so little consideration for the mindset shift that is needed to maintain the changes you’re making.

If it was as simple as “just do it”, well, we would have all done it, right?

So it’s important to understand why you are doing what you are doing, and how you feel about the process. If you want to get in shape, but the thought of going on a diet or training programme fills you with dread, fear and anxiety, you first need to consider changing your perspective on the process. Otherwise, I hate to say it, but you’re likely setting yourself up for failure.

When we think about diets, we conjure up thoughts of restriction and deprivation, we longingly look ahead, counting down the days to when we can go back to our old eating habits. But, if you can shift your thoughts around dieting, to a mindset where you see it as a process of eating healthful foods in abundance, not demonising or banning anything, but consciously making the choice to eat more nutritious foods to fuel and energise your body, if you can see it as developing positive habits that will benefit your health and quality of life in the long run, then your experience is much more likely to be a positive one and the changes you see, more likely to last.

Likewise, consider exercise in a new light. View it not as pain and torture, but a physical challenge that is making you stronger, more resilient and able in both the short and long term. Avoid viewing it as purely serving a one-time end goal, such as getting in shape to look great in an outfit or for a particular occasion. Try to look beyond the short-term gratification. See working out as a way to show respect for your body, you’re taking care of the wonderful machine that it is. By adopting this mindset, you’ll feel more confident about your body no matter what stage you’re at in your fitness journey. And, finally, try shifting your mindset around “dieting and fitness failure”. This is not an all or nothing game. We all suffer setbacks and fall off the plan from time to time; stressful situations in life crop up and injuries and illness occur. Yet, instead of throwing in the towel completely, we should look to adapt, understand why things aren’t currently working out and tweak our training and diets to better suit our situations. If we can recognise that there really is no such thing as failure, but that taking care of our body is an ongoing process, a journey like any other with ups and downs, then the ride is going to be a lot more fun.

Becky Wright is a qualified personal trainer, nutritional therapist and international bikini fitness champion. She has worked with clients worldwide, including royalty. Contact her at www.beckywright fitness.com or becky@beckywright fitness.com