Basic Principles, Individual Adaptations
Today, my accountability is wobbly…
My health coaching business is based on a platform of System-Support-Accountability. Just like the legs on a three-legged stool, none of these three are more important than the others. If any one of them is ignored, the program is severely handicapped, if not totally ineffective. Because each of us is different, I can personalize the program to fit individual preferences and needs but there will still be the three necessary components. What works for me, may not motivate you. Your struggles may not be mine. But, regardless of our personalities or challenges, the basics of this program can be applied.
Years ago, long before I learned about this system, I started a diet program based on calories eaten and burned. I now understand that such a “diet” will often give us weight-loss results but not necessarily health, and the results will be short-lived because very few are willing to stay on any “diet” for a life-time. There were, however, lessons learned or reinforced during this time. In order to track the calories I had to journal every bite I ate. I also learned that it was much easier to enjoy my meals if I planned ahead – there is no way to stick to a program if your only choice for dinner is a 2 point-serving of carrots!
I no longer track every bite I eat but I still “journal” – how do I feel, am I turning to food for comfort or participating in mindless eating? Any time I feel tired, unhappy, unproductive, or unfulfilled, I simply turn to my journal and start writing, exploring, and healing!
Planning meals became my mantra 40 years ago when I found that, as a young mother, I seldom had the energy or creativity to come up with meal ideas after I came home from work. Setting aside an evening, or a couple hours on the weekend, to sit down with my cookbooks and the grocery flyers allowed me to plan meals for the week so we could sit down to a wide variety of home-cooked meals with little stress. This system became increasingly beneficial as our family grew to four children with the accompanying extracurricular time and budget demands. It simply took a slight adjustment to switch the focus of meal planning to include healthier whole-food options. (Fewer home-made pizzas, more supper-salads.) Today, although our household has now shrunk to two, I still prefer those times when I have meal plans prepared to those where I turn to my husband and say, “What would you like for dinner?” Healthy meals are simple, often easy, but usually not as spontaneous as the “convenience food” options. Packaged foods and drive-through do not require a lot of planning.
Have you ever started a project where not only were you surrounded by skeptics but everyone seemed either determined to not help or even actively try to sabotage your efforts? No? Have you attempted to make dietary, fitness, or other wellness changes in your life? Even your closest family and friends will likely undermine your attempts, if unconsciously. During my “diet” nearly 20 years ago, my family referred to me as the “points nazi” and often rolled their eyeballs as I tried to calculate my meals. Friends asked if I was “sick”. I became the butt about “jokes” that inferred that I couldn’t take part in real life or that I was trying to make everyone survive on cardboard, rabbit food, and water. None of which was true but it did often make me feel excluded, uncomfortable, and self-conscious.
Luckily, several of my family became interested in fitness and nutrition so rather than simply criticizing they became additional sources of advice. I discovered wellness sites on the internet that encouraged, affirmed, and educated me in my health journey. Then, when I finally found my courses with the Health Coach Institute, not only did I receive more information but the support group I needed, and still reach out to, which allows me to continue this lifestyle.
As an introvert, I am surprisingly dependent on accountability. The biggest obstacle for me is that, if given a choice, I will most likely “back out” of social interactions unless I have blocked the escape route with accountability. A social event sounds like a good idea until the evening comes around – I don’t want to dress up, drive to town, and/or be out late – UNLESS I have actually purchased a ticket or someone is counting on me to go with them!
I often find it difficult to keep my focus unless I know someone is expecting me to show up, call, create results, etc. Some of my most productive periods were during the times when I had scheduled phone calls or video chats with friends and business contacts because I had to have something done to report or share! My desire to avoid letting someone down is bigger than my excuses!
Also, a goal is much more concrete if I write it down and an accomplishment is more meaningful if it is recorded, even if no one else ever sees it. For example, I LOVE my Fitbit! I check my steps periodically throughout the day, try to make sure I move every hour and put in at least 10,000 steps. Often I will log my water intake, just to ensure I am consuming my 10 – 15 cups/day, and occasionally I will log my meals just to check that I am balancing fats/carbohydrates/proteins. I also like to check my sleeping hours and after a couple of sleep-deprived nights I will make a bigger effort to catch more Z’s. Last night the unthinkable happened! My Fitbit died! I had seen the signs: the strap was pulling away from the digital face, the battery wasn’t holding a charge, and it was taking longer for the app to connect/synchronize with my wristband. But when I checked my readings last night I saw that I was almost to 10,000 steps and had recorded 39 flights of stairs (we are renovating, moving boxes, cleaning, etc.) just before the screen changed to a thin green line, I was grieved. This morning I woke up – late because my Fitbit is also my alarm – and joked (sort of) to my husband that since I didn’t have a Fitbit to record my activity I might just as well sit around all day. Sounds silly, but the feedback from my Fitbit, and the personal challenge I have created with it, keep me motivated to move, hydrate, sleep, and eat properly.
So, where are you lacking in your wellness journey? We all need this stool to be sturdy and reliable, even those of us in the health coaching business. Which leg of your lifestyle stool is wobbly or broken?