Intellectual health and its effect on weight loss is the subject for today. Intellectual health, in my description, involves your job and your hobbies. To me, hobbies are the things that we enjoy in our life outside of work. The things that bring us joy, accomplishment, and balance. Healthy living may not be what you would consider a hobby in your life. It may be the last thing you want to do some days and more of a thorn in your side than an escape. However, today, I want to discuss how you can start to enjoy living a healthier and more active life. Because enjoyment is often one of the missing pieces in the weight loss and weight maintenance puzzle. First, we are going to discuss how to change your attitude surrounding healthy living, and then, how to lead a healthy lifestyle by finding healthy habits and hobbies that you enjoy.
Let’s be honest, most people who try to lose weight fail. Of those who do succeed, a large percentage gain the weight back again. Why is that? There are a number of different components that are involved. When I’m working with clients, one of the first things I tell them and repeat throughout the program is that weight loss needs to be a lifestyle change. Not just a quick-fix program that does its job (or not) and leaves the person without the tools to maintain this new, healthier version of themselves. How do you create a complete lifestyle change? By gradually changing your unhealthy habits and focusing on new, healthier habits that take their place. And you know what really helps these habits to stick and become a lifestyle? Enjoyment! Do you enjoy running? Kale? Yoga? Cauliflower? Swimming? Beets? None of the above? All of the above? Maybe you just flat out hate exercise or vegetables. Whatever it is about weight loss that you really don’t enjoy, let’s back up and try to examine the process…
Let me reiterate that enjoying a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important components to losing weight and to maintaining that weight loss as well. But, if you are turned off completely to exercise or vegetables or fill in the blank healthy lifestyle element, then it’s time for a new approach. It’s time to look a little harder at your attitude. Not only that, but also to inspect what you do enjoy and what you could enjoy and applying that to a healthier lifestyle. Attitude has a huge impact on your lifestyle!
So, let’s talk about attitude. My favorite quote that really helps keep me in line when I’m having a little self-pity party or letting circumstances navigate my feelings is this quote from Rick Warren (my favorite author/speaker/pastor):
For me, this quote very succinctly reminds me that I am in control of my attitude and my responses. Some days may be harder than others, but ultimately, it is up to you. Weight loss is not any easy journey, but it is one that you are capable of! Don’t let yourself tell you any different! Choose to make the right decision. Choose to be healthy.
When you do make the right choices, don’t do it with dread, don’t see it as using up the last of your will-power, and don’t have an inner battle with each decision you make and feel like you have to constantly overcome frustration. Instead, focus on the successes, the progress, the new recipes, the awesome feeling of the healthier body you are getting, the new community you may be a part of at an exercise class, the new running shoes, the new bike trail you found, the awesome playlist you made for your workout, the new clothes you get to buy when you finally drop a size (even if they are from Goodwill because you truly believe that you are going drop more sizes in the future!), the energy you get from cleansing your body from the unhealthy foods it was addicted to, the muscle definition in your arms you haven’t seen before, the feeling that you are living the healthy lifestyle that God intended his people to live, the peace of mind that you are increasing your longevity with every healthy decision you make, and the overall, amazing feeling of accomplishment. Retrain your mind, choose to focus on the positives, and learn to love healthy living!
Tie in What You Already Enjoy: What if I genuinely hate exercise? Or genuinely hate most vegetables? Well, then let’s look at what you do enjoy. Do you like talking on the phone? Go on a walk while you chat on your Bluetooth. Do you like fruit? Sneak some kale into a morning smoothie that mostly consists of berries. Do you like watching TV? Bring your tablet to the gym and watch Netflix while you go on the elliptical. Do you like pizza? Make it with a cauliflower, Parmesan cheese crust instead next time. Tie in things you already enjoy with your new, healthy habits!
For me, I generally look forward to exercise because I love the feeling of accomplishment, of seeing progress, and of watching my body change and get healthier. But, some days are harder than others to get motivation to start moving. Right now, in order to help me get into my routine, I only listen to Rick Warren podcasts while I exercise. I look forward to the next podcast, and this gives me extra motivation to get in my workout. I’ve done the same thing with shows. I only watch a certain show when I exercise, so if I’m looking forward to the next episode, it gives me a little extra boost to get going with my workout. It might be a playlist that gets you going, a show, a podcast, a new outfit, an alarm on your phone, a call from a accountability partner, a reminder of how awesome the last workout felt, a new workout put in the mix to shake up the routine, a new running path, a new hiking trail, a new bike, a gym membership with a friend, a race you signed up for with a friend, a dog that gives you that look like he needs a walk… now, or a time you scheduled to take your grand kid on a walk to the park. What will jump-start your motivation and finally help you to enjoy exercise?
Try New Things: I genuinely thought I hated swimming a few years ago when I jumped in the pool one day at the gym, did one lap, realized how hard it was and how ridiculous I probably looked, got out, and didn’t try it again. About a month ago, I jumped in a pool, tried doing a lap just to get in a little extra exercise and stopped because I didn’t want to put my face in the water. Then my husband did a lap. We’re slightly (okay very) competitive with each other, and so, I, of course, had to give it another go and prove I could swim just as well (if not better). I sucked it up and put my face in the water, and did a lap all the way down to the other end. I was able to do it! And you know what, it was such a good workout and taxed my body in ways no other workout ever has before. I did several more laps that afternoon, and I enjoyed the challenge so much I started talking about doing a triathlon. That is now one of my future goals. Something that was never on the table before, but once I switched my perception and actually gave something a genuine try, I enjoyed it! (Now I just have to get over my hate for biking!)
For healthy eating, I have learned a few things. First, cooking gets a lot easier once you do it more consistently, cooking is more fun when you have someone to talk to or music playing, recipes get easier after you’ve made them once, and eating healthy foods can be very rewarding. I also learned that it’s not necessarily certain foods that I don’t like, but certain combinations that really don’t appeal to me. It’s more about getting the flavors, the cooking style, and the combinations right. For instance, now that I am doing the Whole30 again, we’ve revisited a lot of vegetables and new recipes that are extremely healthy. There are a few duds, but some that are awesome. Here are some of the foods that I never thought I would say I actually enjoy: Brussel sprouts roasted until they are slightly crunchy on the outside in olive oil with salt and pepper are genuinely one of my favorite sides. I just discovered how good turnips are in a Dijon mustard sauce. The taste of kale in a smoothie is easily negated by using orange juice. Sweet potato fries are a great substitute for actual fries if I put Cajun seasoning on them. Almond butter actually tastes better to me on apple slices than peanut butter. I actually enjoy the taste of homemade dressings better than store bought. Adding guacamole to any slightly-Mexican dish, no matter how bland, instantly makes it taste better. I honestly look forward to the plantain chip nachos that are in our meal rotation. And, I actually tried sauteing spinach with garlic, salt, and pepper the other morning, and the garlic actually took away the “cooked spinach” taste almost entirely! Try out new foods, new combinations, and new cooking styles. And then, keep trying until your entire meal rotation consists of healthy meals, snacks, and drinks. Gradually build that new, healthier lifestyle. Adding in 1 or 2 changes a week is all you need to do. It will be less stressful, and create new habits a lot more easily and sustainably than trying to make a bunch of changes all at once.
Now, these are just a few examples from my life of what I’ve found to work for me and how I’ve deliberately made healthy living easier by making it more enjoyable for myself. The little mind games I play with myself, my taste palette, and the things I found to work for me won’t all work for you. In fact, maybe none of these examples will work for you. But, the general idea of tying in things you enjoy to healthy activities and the idea of trying new things with a positive attitude are key to making a healthy lifestyle enjoyable to you.
In fact, you can (and should) find at least one physically healthy hobby that you enjoy and incorporate it into your life on a regular basis. Everyone can find at least one. It might be cooking healthy new recipes, hiking, a bike club, a walking buddy, a CrossFit class, gardening and putting healthy veggies in the garden this year, running races in different cities where you get to travel as a part of the experience, a water aerobics class, a mommy and me workout class at a park, kayaking, downhill skiing, joining a sports team, disc golf, golf, orienteering, geocaching, or a yoga class. Try something out. You may be pleasantly surprised. Not sure after the first time? Try going with a friend or family member or introducing yourself and finding a social connection as well. Having that social interaction piece makes it much more likely that you will continue the hobby for years to come.
Overall, make your intellectual health a part of the weight loss game. Bring a positive attitude to the process and find the things you enjoy about living a healthy lifestyle and focus on them! Incorporate things you already enjoy into exercise and healthy eating. Also, try new things, and be open to the possibility that you just might enjoy them! And finally, find a hobby you enjoy that improves your physical health in some way. Give these things a try and watch how your habits gradually transform into a healthy lifestyle that will support weight loss and maintenance forever!
What are some of your favorite healthy hobbies?! Comment below!
A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss: The Science of Losing Weight and Challenge Your Soul: ACTS Prayer Technique
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Challenge Your Soul is November’s challenge! If you are joining me, I hope you are enjoying improving your spiritual health and aligning your daily life more closely with your ultimate purpose. If you’d like you can take a look at Past Challenges or read about where my idea for Challenges originated. Drop me a comment or email to let me know if you try any!
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi