When I weighed 250 lbs and was taking high blood pressure medication at 24 years old I had trouble taking responsibility for where I was at with my health and I definitely had no focus on fitness. I was so full of excuses and I had cultivated a victim/entitlement mentality around my weight and my health. I blamed genetics, I said that I was newly sober and I had other things to worry about, and I was in denial that things like heart attacks and huge health problems associated with obesity will never happen to me. When I bottomed out with drugs and alcohol I made the decision and commitment to myself to get sober. I stopped using drugs and alcohol but had the habit of eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and I was still a heavy smoker. At this point I was also the opposite of an active person. This led to me gaining a lot of extra weight. Just like drinking and using, one day I had just had enough. I was uncomfortable in my body, I was lacking confidence, and since I was newly sober I was doing a lot of work on myself so I was changing mentally for the better but I was still looking obese and unhealthy on the outside. It has been my experience that without a focus on improving our physical health it is damn near impossible to reach a high state of mental heath and live a truly vital life. The mental states we live in are highly impacted by the physical state we live in.
J.K. Rowling, yep, the lady who wrote the Harry Potter Books said,”Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life”. I have directly experienced this in quite a few areas of my life but most dramatically with my addiction to drugs and alcohol then with my physical health. If you are at rock bottom it should be pretty obvious to you but that does not mean that things are magically going to change. The next step is to take massive action and start changing the habits that are not serving you. The key word there is action. When I was obese I had a very low knowledge of health and fitness. I had been in shape and very active before in my life but not in a very long time. I think the thing that helped me actually drop weight was that I did not approach it with any hesitation, I just went for it. I got off my ass and went for a walk, literally. I went out and bought some 25 pound dumbbells and started doing some simple exercises I knew how to do like bench press, fly’s, shoulder presses, etc. and I just started walking every day. Then when I could I jogged a little bit and walked more. I also stopped eating out and began eating what I thought was healthy like power bars and processed vegan meats. I now know that I was not eating healthy but I was eating better than I had been for a long time. Simply making my food at home and being active was helping me shed the weight off my body quickly. When you have a lot of weight to lose you it comes off pretty quickly in my experience. A positive side effect of beginning to lose weight is that the motivation to continue down the path just kept growing. A lot of people I come into contact with say that they lack the motivation to get going and keep going when it come to their health and fitness. I always want to say,”no shit!” but not for the reasons that you may think. Motivation is not an innate trait. It is built through positive actions taken repeatedly and feeling a bit of success. When we feel positive feelings we want more of them. We are hardwired to avoid pain and to seek pleasure so it is natural to feel no motivation to make huge life changes. Our minds want to keep us safe and comfortable, and believe it or not, constant discomfort is a form of comfort. To build motivation you just have to get started and keep going. Feeling success will build motivation.
Taking control of your health and fitness is all about starting where you are and going from there. It took me getting frustrated with where I was and then harnessing that frustration and forcing myself to change. That change was uncomfortable, I had to stop a lot of the habits I had like eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and I had to make working out a priority but I kept focused on the positive and on making progress. Where we keep our focus is a determining factor in our results. I know that when I was using drugs and drinking and even when I had stopped I had very little mental fortitude. I did not have that internal drive that said I am going to make this shit happen no matter what. It took a while to build that. Getting sober and making the decision to not drink and use was a brick in my foundation of mental fortitude and I have never stopped building on it. With health and fitness it take a lot of metal toughness at first. There are new habits to be learned, old habits to be broken, and of course there is temptation everywhere. When we commit to getting healthy we have to wake up every day and go for a walk, make better decisions on what we put in our mouths, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. There are always reasons to not do something and there are always “better times” to wait for but the only thing you are putting off if you do wait is an improved quality of life.
The fact is that any change in life takes just getting started. Life doesn’t generally change for the better all by itself. You have to be proactive. The key to a real change in health and fitness is to never stop moving forward. You have to put the concrete decision in your head that you are going to get healthy and fit no matter what. If you fall off the wagon and eat a bunch of crap food one day then it is up to you to suck it up and get back on track the next. What we eat is paramount to happiness. Research has shown that the food we eat has an enormous impact on our mental state, energy levels, and sleep. Processed food is a drug. Your body has been conditioned to crave it. It is calorie rich and nutrient deficient so it leaves you bloated, full, yet malnourished and hungry a few hours later. When you begin to “come off” the junk food then you will feel it. That is why it is important to go into your healthy lifestyle change with realistic expectations, knowing that it is going to be a BIG change and that you will have some hard moments. That is when your mindset comes into play. If you have not made a commitment then you will falter when it gets hard, if you have made a true commitment then you will persevere and continue to build a more healthy and happy life.
If you are looking to change your health and fitness then do it. Nothing bad can come from making positive changes in your life. It will be tough but it will be worth it. Breaking habits is never easy and replacing them with positive habits is even more challenging. The juice that being at peak health and fitness will give your life is indescribable. Success is all about making sustainable changes and building momentum. If you truly want to change then it is time. Take the first step, get into action and make 2017 the fittest year of your life. When you change your the level of your health and fitness for the better, you change your life for the better.