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A few weeks into the Whole Life Challenge, you will likely see some significant changes. Focusing on quality food choices, smart exercise choices, and even smarter recovery choices will, without a doubt, impact your health, fitness, and well-being.
It’s very cool to see the number on the scale going down, to feel the waistband of your jeans getting looser, or to know that your two-mile jog is getting easier. You should definitely celebrate those accomplishments. I’ll even throw in on a virtual fist bump.
But one piece of advice: don’t get too caught up in the results.
(And the corollary to that is: you shouldn’t be judging yourself if your numbers/results/scores haven’t budged a bit, either.)
Yes, it’s fun to celebrate the numbers. Do me this one favor, though — spend even more time celebrating the consistent effort that got you where you are.
Consistency Is the Key
Consistent and patient effort over the long-term is where true change comes from. Yeah, I know — it’s boring stuff compared to a big decrease of the waistline, but stick with me.
The great thing about the WLC is that it teaches you consistency. It’s not about making a quick change focused only on reaching a weight-loss, body-composition, or other short-term goal. You need goals to keep you motivated, but you need consistency of action to build a healthy and fulfilling life.
The habits you learn during the WLC are amazingly effective when you apply them on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You’ll see this over the duration of the Challenge, but you’ll see the compound effects of these habits even more when you continue to apply them in weeks 12, 24, 36, 48, etc.
You’re learning the practice of consistency over the weeks of the Challenge so you can continue to apply what you’ve learned over the rest of your life.
Read that one again.
Focus on the Habits, Not on the Results
My advice to you is to make the habits the focus of your Challenge even when you have a big breakthrough toward one of your goals. What does that look like?
Say you are three weeks into the WLC and you promised yourself not to focus on the numbers so you’ve been avoiding your scale. But you just can’t stand it anymore and you sneak into the bathroom for a peek.
BOOM! You’re down four pounds! Go ahead — give a shout, a squeal, a quick “Booyah!” and dance around your bathroom a little.
Now that you’ve have your party moment, go get your journal, open your laptop, or start a voice memo on your smartphone if you are (for shame!) adverse to the written word.
List the things that you’ve been consistently doing that have led to achieving this milestone:
- Eating veggies at every meal
- Making sure you’re hydrated
- Getting quality sleep at least four nights per week
- Working out at least three days per week.
Holy grass-fed cow, you’ve worked really hard!
Here’s where the real celebration starts. Look at all those amazing things you did! And not once, not twice, but over and over again.
Some of these things you didn’t even think were possible just a few weeks ago, right?
I know, you’re thinking, “What’s the difference? I celebrate the outcome or I celebrate what got me there.” There’s actually a very important difference.
By celebrating the behaviors, the habits that got you your victory, you are celebrating the things you have control over.
Yeah, read that one again, too.
And the Wisdom to Know the Difference
If you only celebrate the outcomes, you are setting yourself up for eventual disappointment because just about any outcome you can name involves some element over which you have no control. Just like the farmer who buys the best seeds, fertilizes, and waters his crop is still at the mercy of environmental factors such as heat, humidity, and pests. We, too, are at the mercy of environmental factors that influence our health and fitness goals.
For example, there are numerous factors involved in determining how quickly the number on the scale goes down or if it goes down at all. (You know the scale is not the best measure of success anyway, right?)
- Your digestive system may break down certain foods less efficiently than others. That means your body is not absorbing as many nutrients or as much energy (a.k.a. calories) from that particular food.
- How you prepare a food can influence how well your body processes it. Cooked carrots will be absorbed differently than raw.
- And then there is the whole issue of food labeling. Food labels can be off by a large percentage so what you’re getting (or not getting) in that serving size may not be what you think.
What Do You Have Control Over?
Choosing quality foods: fresh vegetables and fruits, sustainably raised meats, and healthy fats. Eating until you are just full. Drinking lots of clean water. Going to bed early. Getting regular exercise and flushing the gunk out of your system by stretching daily.
You know, all those things you get WLC points for.
All of this is just to say: remember what you have control over, take control of those things, and celebrate consistent practice. By consistently practicing the 7 Daily Habits, you’re building a healthy life.
There is no doubt about that — and that’s cause for celebration.