Saturday, April 9, 2011

HELP! I Want To Quit!!!

Ever feel that way? With regards to eating well? Or exercising? Taking care of yourself and trying to improve your health and wellbeing is not always an easy task. We all know it’s the right thing to do, and many really do WANT to make the necessary lifestyle changes to become healthier. But so many fail at it, or never really even get started. Why is that? How come some people can seem to have boundless energy for working out, undying commitment to eating well, and an unswerving focus on caring for their physical, mental and spiritual health? What is the difference maker?

In truth there are several difference makers, some of which I’ve written on before. One of the biggest difference makers is the size of your “why”. See my blog post entitled “When The Facts Don’t Count” for more information on that. This month I want to focus on another difference maker, one that I experienced firsthand in a huge way just last month, and continue to experience weekly in my pursuit of wellness: Community.

Sometimes it’s tough to get up and go. Sometimes it’s tough to continue to make the best decisions for your health. Floating downstream is always easier, but even a dead fish can do that. If we’re going to swim upstream, we need to put ourselves in a position where we have the greatest chance of success, or the least chance of failing or quitting. If we create a community of wellness oriented people, or join in on an existing one, we create a safety net to help us from falling off the wagon. The community can be as large as you want, or it can be as small as 2 people, though I recommend 3-4 at least.

How does it work? Simple. You find these people, and you commit to each other to pursue the vision of wellness. That might mean the only thing you commit to is working out together 3x weekly. It might mean you get together and walk in the neighborhood nightly. It can mean that you commit to attending wellness seminars and connecting with each other afterward to implement whatever it is you’ve learned. It can mean that once a week you get together with some friends and sample some new healthy recipes that you research. It can look like a lot of things.

I’ve had what I call accountability partners in my church. We would get together and spend time discussing our walk with God, do a bible study or just hang out and spend time together as friends, or with our families for a meal. We felt free to encourage each other, and sometimes even speak into each other’s lives when we see something amiss that the other person might be blind to, in a loving way of course!

That concept applies to our physical health as well. For instance, I have 2 other gentlemen, and just recently a female business associate joined in, that all like to do a spin (cycle) class on Monday and Friday mornings at 5:15. The night before, we text each other to check in, or send a Facebook message doing the same. That way we are reminded and we commit to each other to being there. It works well, and when one falls off the horse, we continue to stay in touch to encourage them to come back. I have to admit that there are times when my alarm goes off early in the morning, and I would like to stay in bed, but knowing I have accountability partners expecting me to be there pushes me to get up and get moving. And, I ALWAYS feel better after completing the class and am glad I went.

I also have a friend that used to live in our community, and he and I exchange emails about what is going on in our lives with regards to our attempts to work out regularly. We challenge each other, and enjoy reading about each other’s successes. Sometimes there are challenges we’ll express, and it’s good to hear those too and we can help each other through them.

It’s great to have a group to celebrate a win with too. In March, I, along with about 800 others, participated in an attempt at a world record for the largest outdoor spin class sponsored by Lifetime Fitness. It was two hours long and hot outside. It was exhilarating to see the mass of people on their spin bikes together and pushing themselves in the heat and humidity. After completing the long 2 hour class, I enjoyed a few moments of celebration with my instructor from spin class and several other regular attenders of the class. That’s yet another huge plus in developing community/accountability partners in your quest for wellness; celebrating the victories.

I would encourage you to find another person, and more than just one if you can, that you feel comfortable with and ask them to be your accountability partner. My son has caught onto this and recently asked 2-3 people, including me, to hold him accountable in his workouts. In our office we have two couples that work out 3x weekly and help keep each other focused (of course they enjoy going to breakfast afterward, so the social aspect kicks in too, but I am ok with that if it keeps them exercising and staying in shape together!) Find that person or those people, develop that commitment to wellness and see where it will take you!

Until next time…Be Well!

Dr. Bruce

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