Life Hacks of the Lean and Fit. Part IV: Imagine it and Live it.
Hi! Welcome to Part IV of this series. If you’re looking to get leaner and fitter, OR–You want to quit obsessing about your workouts and diet…(Or both of those things!?) This is the place for you.
I am passionate about this topic of living healthy, loving your body, and enjoying life–all without obsessing over…anything.
I call them “Lifestyle Hacks.” You can call them whatever you like. What I do know is that they are the real deal. They are the simple, common sense tools that the diet companies hope you’ll never ever try. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the people you would most want to be like, do not follow diets, but are already following these life hacks! (read Part I, II, and III.)
Hold on tight though, because I tend to get really excited about today’s topic! I happen to think it is the biggest KEY to achieving your health and fitness goals. I also think this hack can be applied to just about every area of life, and deliver awesomeness to whatever you apply it to. If that doesn’t get you excited, then we have a problem. Maybe you just need some coffee.
(Go get some, I’ll wait.)
(are we all ready!?)
Before I dive in, I have to admit that this one is a little challenging to communicate in writing, because it is very much an INTERNAL hack. I’m not giving you a list of rules to follow or behaviors to model. Instead, today I’m challenging you to make changes in the Mother Board of your behaviors–Your MIND!
Today I challenge you to develop a mental vision for the person you want to become, and then live like that person until you become him or her.
(It’s even Biblical. Proverbs 23:7.)
You can go back and watch a little Vlog where I share my experience with this new way of thinking and living, HERE. It was a challenge to squeeze a my life experience into a short video, but I also promised that I would go further into things in an ebook…**If what I share today resonates with you, let me know and maybe I’ll find motivation to finish that ebook!
Let’s talk about the TWO-PART PROCESS of developing your vision and then bringing that vision to life! (I will be applying all of this to our physical goals today, but keep in mind you can apply these same principles to pretty much every area of life!)
1. Develop a Vision for Your Body.
Start by asking yourself what your ideal body would be, given your genetic makeup. There is a lot we can do with our bodies, given time and hard work. But we also have to be realistic: No amount of diet or exercise will make us grow six inches or change our general body shape.
If you have a photograph of yourself at your favorite size and shape, pull it out and hang it up! Maybe you see someone in a magazine that has your similar build but is leaner or in better shape than you are currently in; Use that as inspiration! When I first applied this new thinking, I didn’t even have an actual photo, but instead created a mental image of what I imagined my body could look like.
Dream big…You only have one lifetime with this body of yours, and it’s a lot more fun when you can enjoy life in it!
But first you also need to consider:
2. Consider The Lifestyle.
This is an important part of choosing your health and fitness goals because you have to be realistic about what it will take to get there.
This is where you ask:
What is reasonable for a consistent workout plan?
What am I willing to eat like consistently over the next years, given all of the circumstances of my life?
Back when my workouts ruled my life, and my body fat was next to zero, I lived with anxiety over a missed workout. Planning a vacation brought me stress because I knew it might interrupt my workouts and throw me for a loop.
So, when I changed my thinking, I chose to workout in a way that was realistic for pretty much the rest of my life. My thinking was like this: If I was relying on a stringent diet and exercise plan to control my weight, then I would be setting myself up to undo all I had worked for if my lifestyle had to change one day. (Obviously, there will be exceptions: Like last year when I randomly (and insanely) decided to train for a marathon in seven weeks.)
I knew that I would be having more kids, and a busy life, so planning to workout 7 days a week was not gonna fly. I decided that exercising three or four times a week would take commitment, but be doable. 12 years later I continue to workout three to four days a week. And yes, at this busy season it requires commitment, but it is doable.
When I made these lifestyle changes, developing a vision for what I wanted to look like, and how I wanted to live, I considered people I aspired to be more like. Did I want to be the girl that always passed up dessert (admirable, but boring.) or the one pigging out shamelessly? (No.) Did I want to be a fun mom who would occasionally have ice cream with her kids? (Yes!) Did I want to enjoy all kinds of foods, or have a specific diet that I followed every day? (for me it was all kinds of foods…) This will look different for everyone, depending on your goals and desires.
So I suggest investing some thought into the lifestyle that you hope to have before committing to the body you want to have. Though a few genetically blessed people can eat freely and not workout at all, and still keep super lean and fit, most of us aren’t so lucky. Most of us have to accept a little more cushion to go with a little more indulgences. So then you decide if you can be happy with those “last five pounds” on you if it means that you can have some cheese, or dessert, (or whatever your thing is,) and workout moderately but not obsessively.
Obviously if your goal is being in body competitions, or being an underwear model, you might decide that swearing off sugar and fat is a reasonable lifestyle. Figure out what suits you best!
As for me, I feel like accepting a couple extra pounds has become a symbol of my freedom and fun life! (The day I could say that, I knew I was really growing up! ;))
APPLYING YOUR VISION:
Once you’ve developed a vision for who it is you want to become, you get to enter the fun part of living it out. You might see this as hard work, but for me it became like a game.
When I first started this, I would run everything through my “future me” filter. Would this girl I am becoming stress out over one missed workout? (no!) Would this girl eat half of her son’s fries, just because they are left on his plate? (no!) Would this girl enjoy a steak on a date night? (yes!) Would this girl snack on cookies late at night because she is feeling restless? (no!)
You don’t want to overthink things, but you do want to really commit to living as if you were the person in your vision.
THE LONG TERM:
When you first start this, it might seem really exciting. But after a few days or weeks it might get hard. You could be used to following a diet plan that makes you feel secure by telling you exactly what and how much to eat every day. you might be accustomed to stepping on a scale twice a day, hoping for some indication that you are succeeding, or failing.
This is where endurance and patience must become your very best friends. Consider the “future you” in the bigger picture. How will you look next spring? What will you feel like next summer? Try not to look for immediate changes (though there may be some,) but instead really stay focused on the long-term results of this new way of thinking.
During these months it will really help if you are busy doing something you love. If you have struggled with food or exercise obsession, then you’ll need to replace that focus with something positive. Pick up an old hobby, or find a new one. Become a book worm, or take a class! If your mind has too much freedom it will naturally draw back to negative mindsets and unhealthy patterns. I spent a lot of time in prayer over the first few months of changing my thinking because it sometimes really felt like my drug was being taken away from me! Keep in mind that our thoughts–as unhealthy/unproductive as some of them are–can be very comforting to us. The more prepared you are for that, the less you will be caught off guard. (I may write a follow-up post about how to best deal with those thoughts. That is also touched on in the VLOG that I mentioned.)
Oh yes, there is much more to say on this topic, but it is my prayer that this information is helpful to someone out there! I believe with all of my heart that this same approach to diet and exercise can transform anyone’s life if they are willing. Let me know what you think in comments, below!
And as always: Please Pin and Share on your favorite social media so your friends can read this too! 🙂 Mahalo!
Have a great week enjoying a healthy life with the ones you love…
(From last weekend hiking Waimea Valley…)
Write your book please!
awww, thank you Melissa! I keep trying to figure out of I’m going to or not…haha, That is a big encouragement. I’ll let ya know! 🙂
Wow, did I need this! Not sure how I stumbled upon this post, but it’s exactly what I needed to read. I have loved your blog for a long time now, and wish you would write a book (and maybe a cookbook)…so add another person to the list of people waiting patiently for that to happen. You are amazing and inspiring. Thank you!
Thank you Britney! What a sweet comment. Bless you and stick around–I’ll do my best to finish that little project (or two or three :)) XO Aloha
Such a wonderful way to look at it! Really love the way you suggested running choices by your future self. In the past when I’d try to do that, it was more of a “You’re going to regret eating that pasta/cutting that workout short/etc” preemptive guilt trip, rather than “What would the healthy, lean, consistently-loving-life future-me do?” I have the feeling your approach is much more effective way to filter choices. 🙂
Still loving this series….I truly hope you take the plunge with that e-book!
I love these ideas, Monica! I have been on a fitness journey for about 8 or 9 months now! I joined the gym with my super fit and Tai Kwon Do triple black belt best friend. It didn’t take long to realize I could not compare my body to hers daily. We are not built the same but we CAN be equally as strong. We do motivate each other to go work out, but also work out individually as well. I also have her (and she has me) when we get into super “obsessed” mode and feel the guilt of missing a workout or having an ice cream!!!
I also noticed that I have taken some of these same “life hacks” and put them into play when I want to better my marriage or be more in the moment with my kids!! I will try and imagine who I want to be or pattern my behavior after someone I admire… Fake it til you make it, if you will:)
IT WORKS!!! After a short time, you wake up and you are actually the person you admired all along!
Thanks for the great post!
Very helpful info here Monica. I get teased because I measure certain foods. It’s a T of cream in my coffee, if I want a second cup at bible study I switch to tea since I’ve already had my T of cream for the day. If I have cereal I measure it. I know it goes back to doing Weight Watchers but it works for me. The other big motivater for me is my FitBit, I just thought I was extremely active before I started wearing it last January. Now I have actual numbers to tell me how much I have accomplished each day. Do I allow myself to have a 5,000 step day because I want to sit and watch football all day….yep. I just try to get extra steps the next day. At this point I want to maintain my weight but more importantly I want to be healthy so that I can be active! Thanks again for all your helpful hints to help how I think about food!
Thanks Monica, this was sooo inspiring ~ gona start visioning “future Ali” today! Love what you’re doing xx
I LOVE what I just read! I now need to go back and read the first parts as I missed those! I have been so discouraged lately. I WAS weighing “in” at 246… I am 5ft 5….. Got down to 150…. Which was a great weight for me but not really manageable…. When I was skinny I stopped obsessing as much over my weight.. Working out.. the scale…. Although I DID work out 7 days a week…
Then, slowly but surely it crept back up… and then— OMG — there was 25 pounds! I have had another kiddo in that time as well as gone through a nasty divorce… and the weight kept coming… up and down up and down 20-30 pounds…
Nine years later I am now at 189. I have started to exercise again (yesterday)… I am beginning to get my mindset right and get back to it… PLUS try NOT to obsess too much about it all.
I used to think about my weight over 30 times a day I would guess… Now It’s only maybe 10… Ugg.. Working on it.
I really appreciate what you have been writing and have so enjoyed it. I will go back now and read the other parts. I am ready to have a healthier way of thinking about all of it. I love myself and remind myself daily and thank God that I have 2 arms, 2 legs… Can walk…etc… Thank you God for me even WAKING UP!!!! So, thank YOU for you words and keep um coming! xo- Brandy
Focusing on the best you for YOUR life – brilliant…I love the thought of carrying the long term, future me around in my mind. Perfect trigger when the hand reaches for too much chocolate, and then you feel undeserving of an ice cream with your kids. Keep it real and appropriate is what I am taking away, oh and a stronger long term resolve! Thank you…
I appreciate the the idea of running my choices by the girl I want to become. I never thought of it that way. Your advice will help me just get started. Because I have read so many conflicting thoughts on various eating plans, I sometimes feel paralyzed, like I can’t take the next step. This advice just makes sense. Live as if I have already reached my goals and am making choices to sustain this new lifestyle. Thanks, Monica!