We all have a “path” through life. Some people’s “paths” wind apparently aimless, others appear strait as an arrow. Our paths may change subtly or dramatically through our lives as we adjust our goals beliefs and habits.
Are you in charge of your “path”? Are you directing it with goals, guiding principles or some decisive process? Observing many people on their paths to health, fitness and performance goals, I have noticed a trend to veer a little (or a lot) off target at times.
How this variance from your “path” is handled determines the outcome of your goals. A guiding principal of staying disciplined and always returning to your path with your next step rather than overcompensating for a misstep will help you make the best choices.
Imagine you are on a cross country journey in your car, the “path” is defined by your map and you find that you have taken a wrong turn.You are faced with choices. Do you forget the map and continue driving “I’ve already messed up what’s the difference now?”Do you speed back from where you came without checking the map, only to find you have travelled well past your “path” in the other direction? Do you stop and fume about how stupid you are to have left the “path”? Or do you pull to the side of the road, calmly check the map, and determine the shortest route back to your path, learn from your mistake and continue on back to your “path”?
This principle of checking in with your goal and reviewing the best path to get you there from where you are at any given moment can be applied to all your goals, whether they be related to diet, fitness, relationships, finances etc…
As an example, assume you have a goal to eat healthy.You have chosen this goal because you realize it will give you more energy, boost your immune system, and ensure your body is getting the best fuel possible to run with maximum efficiency.Faced with a choice of a cookie, an apple or potato chips; how will you choose? You know the apple is the healthiest choice and with discipline you will choose the apple. Without discipline you will consider taste and emotions and will pick that which pleases your senses at that moment.You may end up choosing any one.
If you have a “sweet tooth” or sugar addiction, even with the best of intentions you may find yourself making the wrong choice all too often. The key to changing this pattern is to change your intention (or lack of it) from “I eat to satisfy my cravings” to “I eat to be healthy and to feel good”.Focus on what is best for your body as opposed to what your desire of the moment is and the choice of what to eat will become easier.Consider food and drink as fuel for the body and your decisions become based on what food will make you feel good physically.Eating food that improves your physical well being becomes an indulgence. The apple is now “the treat” and makes you feel good emotionally as well as physically.
Overcompensation is another destructive pattern.If, in the example above, you chose the chips instead of the apple and they tasted sooo good that you emptied the whole bag, what do you do? Don’t panic, feel guilty and decide to skip the next meal to make up for the bad choice. This will only slow your metabolism by sending your body into a starvation mode and increase the desire to overdo it again. This time having a slowed metabolism the food will have more negative effect than the bag of chips.The healthy choice for your body and your soul is to simply sit down at the next meal with a good, well proportioned, balanced plate of food, thereby satisfying your body, and getting back on the path which follows your goal.
Realize that each day and with every action you are creating your pattern of success.
By focusing on your chosen “paths” you learn to correct your direction back to where you want to be in a healthy way. Your choices become clear and meaningful as the reasons for your choices become more consistent.
Viewing life as a journey with a distinct path helps make these choices more clear. If we find ourselves off of our chosen path we must simply get back on it. If our path is unclear then our goals or our guiding principles are not well defined.
I challenge you to make your next step onto your chosen “path” while fully aware that someday you will find yourself off your path again. Decide now not to chastise yourself, overcompensate, or give up. Just get back to the path. Get back to the path. Get back to the path.
Tim Hill and Liesbet Bickett own and operate Contra Costa Adventure Boot Camp, offering adult outdoor exercise classes, nutritional and motivational coaching in Danville, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and Moraga.www.ContraCostaBootCamp.com 925-457-4587
I agree. Getting stronger, losing weight, being more healthy, are all small choices made together continuously for an end result. If you make one poor choice, it's not the end of things -- just don't let the path keep on getting longer. It's like taking a drive, getting off on the wrong exit. Just turn around and hop back on the freeway! There's no shame in it. So what if someone else you know never got lost. You're both getting to the same place. It's great that people can get good information easily now that used to only be available to those paying for expensive consultants and trainers.
I think if you focus on the choice made in the moment instead of trying to imagine overcome a huge hurdle of accumulated habits, it gets easier to do the right thing. That's how AA works, you know. They say they will stop drinking for just "today." They don't focus on tomorrow, but just today. If you can do that with your food and exercise habits, then you will get far.
4. There will be times when we will wander off the path, and with food choices, I have come to feel that there is really no right choice. So many choices work in so many different ways for each person, that as long as we are healthy, we can choose the path we want that leads up to it.