There's a strange thing that happens to us when we realize we want to make a change, particularly when it comes to our health. I like to think of it as an “awakening” — that moment when we look at ourselves in a mirror, and decide that we want to get healthier, lose weight, live longer, or just see the person we feel we are inside.
There's a strange thing that happens to us when we realize we want to make a change, particularly when it comes to our health. I like to think of it as an "awakening" — that moment when we look at ourselves in a mirror, and decide that we want to get healthier, lose weight, live longer, or just see the person we feel we are inside.
In all my years as a personal trainer, I have found this revelation to be consistent with almost everyone I've met or worked with. It is a normal part of life. Since we are now beginning a new year, I predict there are many that will experience this moment from now right through the next few weeks.
Many times when I talk to someone who has decided they want to make a change, they paint me a picture of a person who has just been existing, not living — a person dispossessed from themselves. They look in the mirror and do not recognize who they are. They feel helpless about it, tired, and just convince themselves that they're indifferent to it — that it really doesn't matter — that it's just been too many years of not working out, letting life get in the way, making time for everyone but themselves, etc. But at some point, they do take a good look at themselves and no longer feel separate from the person they see, just unhappy with him/her. That's the point when they decide to make a change. Sound familiar?
How to get started
Well, once someone has made this revelation, what next? Make a New Year's resolution? Buy a bunch of health magazines? Join a gym? Get a personal trainer? The answer could be yes to all of these, but the first step is to make a list and keep a journal. You didn't get to where you are overnight, and you will not get to where you want to go overnight either. Consider it a new phase in your life; a new chapter. Write down all the things you want to achieve: lose 15 pounds, lower your cholesterol, sleep better, come off some or all of the meds you're taking, etc., and then write down the things you feel led to where you are at this time and place.
Once you've written down these things, it's then time to make a plan. Unless you're an expert on health and fitness, seek guidance. Talk to a personal trainer and try out a gym. Think of your health and the things you desire as being just as important to you as your spiritual and emotional health. After all, when most of us question things we're feeling spiritually, we speak to someone with guidance like a minister, priest, or spiritual advisor. Doing the same thing for your health is just as important. Journals and diaries may seem like things we just used as kids, but you may be surprised how effective they can be for us as adults.
What's your personality?
The next thing is to understand the person you are. Are you someone who needs constant motivation? Or are you someone that thrives on your own independence? If you need motivation, getting a personal trainer, or at the very least getting a workout partner, are the things you will need to ensure your success. If you're independent, having the knowledge of what to do from a fitness expert will give you the tools you need to thrive on your own.
There's a saying I love that goes, "When we awaken to our truth, we realize we are free." It's a powerful statement. New Year's resolutions are cliché. Setting ourselves on a new path is not.
Michael Shaw is a certified fitness trainer, sports performance nutrition specialist, owner of Shaw Fitness, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, a BLS CPR instructor, and a fitness model. He can be reached at www.michaelroyshaw.com