Now that the shine of the new year has pretty much worn off, and it’s back to your regular routine, I want to highlight what I call Tri C, which is short for Courage, Commitment and Consistency. In my years spent thinking about why most people struggle significantly when trying to lead a healthy lifestyle, I have narrowed it down to a 3-pronged approach. Focusing on these three things will help insure that your new year’s resolution to “get fit:, “get healthy”, “lose weight” or any iteration of the theme, stands a strong chance of coming to fruition.
On the journey to a healthy lifestyle the first thing one has to muster is courage. Courage can be defined as the ability to face unpleasantness without fear. The context in which I use courage is that one needs enough moxie to face the reality of your current status with one hundred percent authenticity and transparency in order to set the bar for improvement going forward. For example, if you are overweight, own up to the bad choices, in detail, that you’ve made that have resulted in unnecessary weight gain. If you are a smoker who wants to quit, have the courage to tally up what you spend on your habit on a monthly basis, as well as think about the toll it is taking on not only your health but on the well being of your loved ones. If you can’t remember the last time you exercised, have the courage to honestly list the factors that have prevented you from doing so.
Next up is commitment. When you make a commitment you engage yourself in a promise that you plan to keep. Interestingly, most people would never easily break a commitment made to another person, but a significant number will easily, often without a second thought, break a commitment made to themselves. Many people resolve to eat better and to exercise regularly starting January 1st—of every year. Usually by February 1st that commitment is long broken. What does it take to honor a commitment that you make to yourself? A strong, unwavering desire to do so, and a little help from your friends. Finding a support system, even an on-line buddy, has proven to make the difference in people maintaining their commitment to themselves. It goes back to human nature - - we do not want to disappoint someone who is counting on us, so we do whatever it takes to live up to that person’s expectations of us.
Finally, consistency is king. Once you have identified exactly what behavior you want to change, and have enlisted the support of friends, family and/or co-workers, the goal is to take little actions every day until the new behavior is second nature. Let’s say your goal is to lose fat. The best way to remain consistent is to make small changes over time. Start with eating a healthy breakfast every morning, or start with drinking a glass of water before every meal or snack. Once you have incorporated one beneficial behavior into your life, then add another one. A healthy lifestyle is not an all or nothing proposition. It’s cliché, but as much as I love running I had to throw in a running metaphor---achieving good health is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires a sustainable lifestyle change not a flashy, short-term effort.
Focus on the Tri C as you work to improve you! The only thing you stand to lose is a few bad habits. Happy New Year!