It’s hard for me to read, write, or hear the word sabotage and NOT immediately associate it with The Beastie Boys. And just like the epic song starts out, “I can’t stand it, I know you planned it…’ can be applied to so many’s health journey. You may not feel you planned it but by making decisions or not making decisions, you have planned for that outcome.
With that said, here are 3 ways you sabotage your health journey and how to break it.
You’re Content with Coasting
You start your health journey and start feeling and functioning better but because this is much better than what they have previously experienced, you settle. You start to coast in your efforts.
If you have ever coasted while riding a bike, you start to gradually and slowly lose momentum once the straight-a-way comes and definitely as an incline ensues. With enough time and little effort, you have to put your feet down on the pavement or the bike tips over.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a person say, “I used to do XYZ and got great results…” And then they stop talking. I’m left awaiting a reason why they didn’t keep doing XYZ since they were feeling so much better, had a better quality of life, and started to enjoy doing XYZ.
Nothing. No reason, they just started coasting on the results that they did have and figured it would maintain by going back to what got them in the problem in the first place.
Bottom line, you can’t coast. Life rarely gets easier, life rarely slows down so there is a constant resistance coming at you. You may have to switch gears so you can peddle a bit easier but you can’t stop pedaling and expect to coast to the finish line.
How do you combat coasting? Find a purpose bigger than your personal desires. Who depends on you to be your best version of you? Do this for them. You’re more apt to let yourself off the hook than disappoint a loved one with your poor effort.
You’re Managing Results, Not Behavior
A second reason why people sabotage their health journey is they focus too much on the results, not the behaviors that will lead them to results. It’s like investing for retirement. I have a graph analysis of my IRA and our retirement funds slowly creep up until I hit about age 62 and THEN it’s like a hockey stick of exponential growth.
Without that graph, it would be easy to just look at my monthly statements and get frustrated that my money isn’t growing as fast as I would like (or losing some years) and just say ‘Screw it! YOLO!’ and blow it on what I want today.
But if I stop contributing (stop focusing on the habit of investing), I’m really going to be frustrated when it comes time for me to step away from this profession and expect to have enough in the tank to last me 30 years.
Your health practices are no different. It’s a figurative daily 20 mile march, regardless of how you feel. If it’s raining and hail, hike the 20 miles. If it’s a perfect 65 degrees, only do 20 miles. Too many look to the destination and get frustrated that it’s so far away and stop. Or people get excited to hike on good weather days and over extend, which then fatigues themselves out and makes it harder to repeat the next day, especially if the weather turns bad.
How do you manage behaviors? Find your daily 20 mile march. Find the one thing that you will do every day to build health regardless of how you feel that day and do it every day. For me, it’s a consistent bed time, even if I don’t have to get up super early the next morning. 9pm comes and I’m shutting off the lights, taking the dogs out one last time, getting my contacts out, and climbing into bed.
Your Spirit Animal is a Cow Instead of a Bison
Bison are a unique animal in that they run towards a storm. Cows will try and run away from it. Both will get cold and wet but the bison will get to clear weather quicker and be in the storm for less time. Cows will expend more energy running away while being the in the storm longer.
What does this look like in real life? Once you embark on a health journey, expect resistance (this is why you can’t coast). The problem is that many will interpret this resistance as the wrong direction because it’s difficult.
The reality is that you’re heading in the right direction and you’re just experiencing Newton’s 3rd law of motion. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s temping to turn your bike around and head down the hill you worked so hard at climbing to get away from the storm. The problem is that you are now a lot further away from your goal because you were afraid you might get hit by some hail.
How do you get comfortable being a bison and running into the storm? Find people that have weathered the storm already and can guide you through it. It may be friends, family, a mentor, or you may have to hire a professional.