As the new year begins, many of us appropriately look at it as a fresh start and set goals for ourselves, often times focusing on our fitness, health and wellness. A new year can find us in a new place in our lives as well as bring renewed focus, hope and motivation. However, most of us fall victim to losing our motivation, giving up on our commitment and falling back into old ways after the excitement wears off and challenges set in. As a personal trainer in additional to mindful instructor (and fellow human being!), at about the end of February/beginning of March (or much earlier!), I have seen us get frustrated, lose hope and just plain stop what we so enthusiastically began and gym owners and workers see this trend repeat every year.
Practicing mindfulness within your health and wellness plan can help in numerous ways that not only aid in setting realistic, attainable goals but also in patience and persistence over the year that actually see us reaching our goals in a way that benefits us long term. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose to what is going on right now, without judgment and with kindness. In addition to helping with goal setting and success, can also enhance many components of our health goals such as weight loss, maintaining a combination of healthy nutrition and exercise habits, reaching performance goals and providing necessary stress relief, rest, and work-life balance for ultimate health and fulfillment.
BENEFITS OF MINDFUL GOAL SETTING
Pay attention to and become aware of how to get past your obstacles. We will ALWAYS hit obstacles. Part of the reason we don’t keep going with the plans we envision and create is because we hit them and immediately stop because things are challenging, and we can't see past them. Being mindful of these obstacles, our beliefs, scheduling and priorities, behaviors, emotional IQ and mental focus and stamina is key to finally getting past them with success.
Mindfulness cultivates patience. In order to be successful, we have to be patient. We all know innately that results that are sustainable and healthy throughout the rest of our lives do not happen overnight. They require consistent practice of little habits every day over weeks, over months and maintained and refined over years. Being able to recognize when we get frustrated, impatient and bored and then taking a pause, a deep breath, remembering why we want to reach these goals at a deeper level, can help us keep going and figure out ways to change things when needed.
Being aware of our deeper intentions, motivations and unhealthy autopilot behaviors first can help us create more effective strategies and plans for success. If we set goals that are unrealistic, aren’t healthy for us and are unsustainable in the long run, we run the risk of setting ourselves back and not truly doing what is best for ourselves and other people important to us such as our family and community. For the long run, it is important to align our goals with our deeper values, self-worth and the higher good for ourselves and others. Long-term healthy habits are key. Mindfulness helps us notice and replace unhealthy autopilot behaviors we’ve learned from our past replacing them with new healthier consistent behaviors that get us results.
Mindfulness in itself has numerous health benefits. Practicing mindfulness regularly regulates the nervous system, reduces stress chemicals in the body while increasing healthy, happy chemicals that make us feel good, enhance our workouts, reduces cravings for unhealthy food choices, improves sleep, lowers blood pressure and enhances focus and refocusing that we can use to reach our goals.
SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR SUCCESS
Practice mindfulness during all habits that enhance your health. Reduce distractions that take you away from full performance during your exercise. Pay attention to the senses of the body – touch, sight, smell, taste and hearing. Really get into your music while on the treadmill, practice mindful eating to slow down and really savor flavors to prevent overeating, and pay attention to your body while exercising to prevent injury that might impede your success. Practice being kind with yourself and in the moment so you don’t get stuck in the past and destroy your energy and hopefulness for success.
Use the month of January for mindful awareness of yourself, your current habits and your obstacles. Take some time to truly see where you are at, what you want, with your current exercise schedule, nutrition and hydration, stress reduction strategies and sleep habits. Be mindful of the people in your life you care about that would benefit from your success. Practice observing yourself without judgment, with kindness and gratitude to motivate, give you energy and truly learn what you need to do from a present moment perspective.
With the knowledge, connection to your deeper values and motivation you gained from January, create and visualize your plan for the year in February. Start to implement your new plan mindfully with full understanding that you will hit your obstacles along the way. Plan for how you will face and get past those obstacles as part of the overall strategy. After you discover knowledge about your obstacles and how you respond to them, refine your plan and keep going for the rest of the year. Be mindful of when you start to lose motivation, remember why you’re doing it and refocus on your goals.
Thank you for your focus and attention! Best wishes to all in 2019. Let’s all do our part to create a healthy and prosperous Sheboygan County!