7 Mistakes That Get In The Way Of Your Health And Wellness Goals By Whole Shift Wellness

A common definition of wellness is: “an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness…is a dynamic process of change and growth”. This sure sounds like something all of us would want to strive towards, however it can be a challenging journey to embark on and even more challenging to stay on for the long haul. Having worked with hundreds of professionals to help them achieve their greatest level of fitness and wellbeing, we have come to realize that there are a number of common and reoccurring mistakes which hinder success and slow down the process. 

Here is a list of the top seven most common ones. Notice how these may apply to your life as we have see them happen time and again. Awareness is the first and most fundamental step towards change so we recommend you acknowledge them and take note of the effective tips we’ve devise d to tackle them: they will then loose their power on you and free up your path to success.

You’re not getting started

So simple yet so hard to do: this truly is the most common struggle we see in people who want to improve their wellbeing. Most of us have a pretty clear idea of what doesn’t work in our lives; we may even know a thing or two about what we need to do to improve it. However a small minority ever take the first step.

Our shifter Jane knew she needed to improve her eating habits but always procrastinated making the first step as she was very comfortable in her routines and couldn’t be bothered to go through the process of change, thinking it was going to be more complicated than it actually was. By taking some small steps first, she was able to build some momentum and realize that change is not always bad or burdensome. She has since completely transformed her eating habits for the better and has learnt to embrace and enjoy them.

The first step could really be as simple as reading an article, signing up to a newsletter that you know will educate and motivate you, eating one extra piece of fruit or salad a day or taking up walking once a week. It takes just one small and simple step in a new direction to profoundly alter the course of our life for the better so stop procrastinating and finding excuses and do something different today, right now! After all life only happens in the now! 

You’re changing too many things at once and feeling overwhelmed

This is a very common one and is mostly driven by the initial enthusiasm of finally embarking on a new journey, mixed with a little bit of good old impatience: we made this very mistake ourselves when shifting our diet years ago. We thought that in order to get the maximum results as quickly as possible we needed to change ALL our eating habits completely and immediately, rather than start gradually. This ended up being counter productive and made things worse in the first and very delicate transition phase: we started feeling overwhelmed by all the changes and lost as to how to move forward. Not to mention, we were WAY overspending on our grocery shopping! If we hadn’t known better and spotted this mistake quickly, we probably would have given up thinking that eating plant based was too challenging and expensive!

Instead, we went back to square one and started re-integrating the foods and dishes we knew and loved and that could easily be turned plant based. We then implemented one or two new habits (or dishes) a week into our lifestyle and allowed that to become second nature, before adding in a new change the following week. By doing so, within a few months we had created a simple, effective and enjoyable meal plan that was easy to shop for, healthy and completely plant based. It is WAY better if you set things up so that you enjoy the journey as much, if not more than the outcome, rather than think of it as a punishment you must endure to get to your goals. Always remind yourself that you’re taking a stance for your life not because there’s anything wrong with it but simply because you deserve and want more for yourself. It is your right to  be happy and feel alive and vibrant and all you need to get to that point is already within you. You may just need to clear the path and get some support along the way.

You’re not training your mindset by identifying your deepest goals and motivations

Everything starts in the mind: really though! Your actions are a direct consequence of your thoughts so if you don’t transform your thinking, nothing is going to change in your life or at least not for long. You have to create a strategy to rewire and re-train your neural-pathways once and for all. 

For example, we tent to assume that we know what our deepest goals and motivations are . After all, they’re pretty obvious, right? We think about them all the time. Why is it then, that we still often find it so hard to stick to our resolutions in the long run and actually achieve what we set out to?

A little investigation goes a long way: our client Joan approached us to loose weight and get fitter saying that she wanted to be able to fit into her favorite dress again. We then did an exercise with her that we call “Why 5”: we asked her “why do you want to achieve that goal?” and to each answer, we would ask “why?” again up to five times. We found out, much to her surprise, that her deeper motivation was to “not be afraid of growing older and not feel like aging equals being unfit, sick and die prematurely”. Once she discovered this and tapped into her very core and fundamental standards of living, her motivation increased and it became virtually impossible to stray her off his new path.

Try this exercise yourself: identify your top 3 wellness goals, then ask yourself “why” five times for each of them: don’t forget to write down your answers and maybe even keep them in your wallet to look at every day. Notice how this impacts your decisions and choices in the next 3-4 weeks. You’ll be surprised at what you may discover and if you think this is all a waste of time, think again! Your mind is listening to that and will act on it.

Mindset and mindfulness exercises are as important (if not more) than any new food plan you may ever discover or any new fitness trend you may get hooked on: information is nothing without the right mindset because that’s where your actions stem from, especially when things get challenging. You see, your brain likes routine and will tend to go down the most known path so in order to establish a new habit and make it second nature, you have to train your mind to do so over and over again until it won’t remember anything else.

You’re not putting yourself first

This can be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you have small children or a high demand job. The truth is, if you don’t put yourself and your wellbei  ng first, above all else, you’re not going to get the results you want. Many people know that they need to get healthier and fitter; they know it is important and are even present to the implications of not doing so. They know their life would improve dramatically if only they could get to the level of fitness they once had or would like to achieve. They still however struggle to make this commitment more important than anything else in their lives. 

For many years, this was one of my biggest struggles and it was really starting to affect my social life: when eating out with friend or at family get togethers, I found it so hard to stick to my commitments with food as I didn’t want to seem difficult or demanding. If anyone offered me something I didn’t want to eat, I could never decline as I didn’t want to offend or upset the host 

and if a friend asked me to share dessert after dinner even though I was full, the answer would alway be “of course! there’s always room for dessert!”. This would inevitably leave me feeling annoyed, dissatisfied and resentful to the point where I felt the only way I could be healthy was to avoid ALL social engagements.

I’ve since come to realize that putting myself first and not compromising on my choices and decisions is my most important responsibility as my entire life depends upon my physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing: by neglecting it, I was essentially doing a dis-favor to everyone in my life and I am a much better friend and family member now that I am happy in my skin.

Think about it: who do you think your children would choose? Your more unfit and dissatisfied self, the one who is always tired, cranky  and doesn’t feel like playing with them? Or your most fulfilled self, who’s full of life and energy and enjoys the skin they’re in?

You’re not planning for the challenges ahead

There is no way to avoid testing times and challenges when embarking on a new journey but one thing you can do is to plan for these moments as much as possible before they arrive: if you let life catch you unprepared on a new journey, you’re at higher risk of giving up, especially when the new habits are not yet fully engrained into your consciousness and routine. 

Our shifter Jenny was never a big fan of meal planning: she wasn’t used to thinking ahead about her meals and although she knew she needed to improve her eating habits, she assumed her lifestyle was getting in the way. She often travelled for work and was out most of the day without ever much time to shop or cook healthy meals. We looked at all the ways she could still impact her food intake (stock her pantry with non perishable and easy to prepare healthy foods, carry healthy snacks, learn how to order a healthy but satisfying meal form any restaurant) and she soon realized she always had plenty of choices to eat h  ealthy.

Think about what are the circumstances that are more likely to test you and plan ahead: do you find it hard to stick to your plans when you’re traveling for work? Do you get home after a long day at work and are so hungry you would eat anything in sight? Do you always order the same things from restaurants without questioning whether there are healthier options? There’s a solutions to all these issues if you’re willing to brain storm and challenge your habits. If you feel really stuck as to what the solution may be, ask for help from friends, family or a professional wellness coach: more often than not, we simply need a different point of view to get more clarity.

You’re getting discouraged and giving up at the first hurdle

Challenges are bound to happen along the way to success. Some days we feel like we’re riding on a high and everything is going the way we want. Other days it feels like we’re taking ten steps back and that nothing will ever change: we feel stuck, demotivated and drained of the “magical energy”. This tends to happen at some point after the excitement and novelty of our new commitments wear off: in the first few days or weeks of making changes, we may feel like nothing is ever going to stop us but inevitably, sooner or later, our commitments will be challenged and doubts will start to creep in.

Towards the end of her first month on our 180″ shift, our shifter Pauline actually felt like she was regressing instead of progressing: she was feeling more bloated than ever before and her stomach was uncomfortable since switching to a plant based diet (this is a common phase, mostly due to the drastic increase in fiber intake). She hadn’t lost any significant weight yet and was finding the new workouts too challenging. She was ready to give up but with encouragement and continuous reminders that this was a completely normal part of the process, she stuck with it and by the end of the third month, she had achieved results beyond her greatest expectations (she lost a total of 9kg on the program!).

It is important to remember that what we may perceive as failures are an integral part of the journey: progress is never linear. You’re not going to get better and better every day, without ever feeling stuck or having ups and downs. You must regularly step back and bare in mind the big picture. If you are taking the relevant steps, there is no doubt that you’re making progress, even if some days it doesn’t feel like you are. But if you give up as soon as the first doubt creeps into your mind, you won’t give yourself a chance to actually notice the improvements and build more momentum. Stay strong, trust the process, continue to train your mind and remember: a watched pot never boils!   

You’re not tracking your successes, even the small ones

It is so much easier to focus on what we haven’t achieved yet, than what is already ours: after all, the very essence of life on Earth is to continually grow and progress. However, in order to maintain momentum and stay strong along the way, you MUST ackn owledge all that you achieve each day. This will increase your motivation and reinforce you “why” daily, making you progressively stronger and deeply embedding the reasons why you started on the journey in the first place. 

Our client Susan never used to track her successes: she was always SO forward focused that she always saw the glass half empty. This often resulted in a feeling of discouragement and dissatisfaction. By practicing daily gratitude and actually writing down her goals and tracking the results, she’s transformed her approach which means she is generally more optimistic and actually achieves more than ever before in all areas of her life!

If you don’t acknowledge your progress and only ever focus on what more you need to do or how far you still have to go, sooner or later you will start to feel overwhelmed and maybe even resentful to yourself or whoever you may blame for the decision to improve your wellbeing. It will then be very easy to make up excuses and give up. Make time every single day to notice all the good things that are going on in your life right now; be grateful to the universe for the opportunities and gifts it’s already brought to you and most importantly, thank yourself for everything you did and accomplished the previous day: start the day as you mean to go on, with a full, happy and optimistic heart, and even the toughest challenges will be more bearable. 

To find out more about our work and download a free copy of the book please visit www.wholeshiftmethod.com.

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