I used to be a gym rat.
THEN: The air smelled strongly of sweaty musk and the windows were covered in condensation. Dumbbells and Olympic bars clinked in all areas of the gym. 90’s dance hits blasted through the speakers. The space was all too familiar, almost like a home away from home. I spent an hour and a half 6 days a week in that space. I thought more was better and that the fancier the equipment and movements the more gains I would make.
NOW: I have a child and a career and very limited free time. I’ve accepted the reality that going to the gym is not the best use of my time nor do I really need all the fancy bits to stay healthy and strong. What I need is 30 minutes 4 days each week to maintain my fitness level and I can achieve that without ever leaving the house.
My meals used to come from a box or a can.
THEN: The smell of chicken noodle soup flowed from the microwave. 2 minutes later I slurped up swollen pasta noodles, soggy carrots, celery and small bits of meat the size of bacon bits. Campbell’s canned tomato, cream of mushroom, and chicken noodle soup were a regular part of my childhood. Not my favourite meals but in the weekly rotation nonetheless.
NOW: I’ve had more food education and developed a palate for meals made from scratch. I remember the first time my new girlfriend made me potato leek soup in a pot on the stove in 30 minutes and I was blown away. The aroma of sautéd leeks and garlic filled the entire apartment. From the first spoonful I was in heaven. The creamy texture, authentic flavours and love that went into that soup converted me for life (she’s now my wife).
I used to be afraid of my feelings.
THEN: Ink flowed freely from the pen as I wrote her an “I miss you” greeting card. My feelings and thoughts were easy to get down on paper when they were about someone else. Someone I adored. I was capable of sharing all sorts of wonderful things in cards and love letters; covering every last inch with sweet nothings from the heart. It was easy to tell others how wonderful they were especially when my self-esteem and self-confidence were low.
NOW: I’ve adopted a spiritual practice, done some therapy, and have a lot more self-acceptance. The very act of loving myself is powerful and life altering. The saying is true, “we cannot truly love others until we first love ourselves”. Consulting with a deck of tarot cards, writing down my feelings and emotions and connecting with an amazing counselor has set the groundwork for major personal growth.
The long and short of my narratives is that basic changes to old ways of doing things can go a long way. These changes can be made at any age and to anyone. The more we learn, the more capable we are of making changes to our lives.
Over-exercising is just as bad as under-exercising. Being in a gym does not mean you are more fit or healthy. Eating meals made at home from scratch offer far more nutrition than packaged foods filled with preservatives, extra sodium, sugar and chemicals. Seeking out your own spiritual practice be it journaling, meditation, yoga or religion offers guidance and direction when things in your life feel out of control.
There are 3 main takeaways here:
1. Nothing fancy required!
Incorporating exercise into your daily life does not need to be difficult, expensive or super time consuming. Walking for 30 minutes every day requires nothing more than a pair of sneakers but has major heart health benefits. Doing basic body-weight exercises or simple in-home workouts using bands, dumbbells or kettle bells for 20 minutes 3 times a week builds the strength required to ward off osteoporosis. Set a realistic goal, schedule time for exercise and make it happen.
2. Eat whole foods.
Food is meant to come from the ground or the farm. This is so simple yet many people struggle with this concept. It’s far too easy in this day and age to order take-out, eat pre-packaged high sodium high sugar low nutrient dense meals. When we eat organic whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds as well as free-range meats and dairy products our bodies thrive. The key here is to cook at home as often as possible, make changes to your family’s regime slowly and enjoy everything in moderation.
3. Start a mindset practice.
Define what your goals and dreams are. Write them down in a journal, speak them aloud or create a dream board so you can think about them every day. If you continue to tell yourself the same story (good or bad) you begin to believe it. It needed be a long drawn out practice yet one that brings your attention to the things in life you want to create. No filters.
Consider a person who wants to lose weight for example. If they begin exercising and eating well but do not believe in themselves and put in the mindset work to stick with it, they are more likely to fail. On the flip side, writing down positive affirmations, setting attainable but challenging goals and journaling their daily gratitude’s will set them up for success – mentally and physically.
If we take a minute to evaluate our lives we can easily determine what is working and what is not. Making small changes every day and letting go of excuses and things that are not serving us well is a great place to start. When we plan for major changes we are far more equipped to stick with it.
The mind-body-soul connection is so powerful. It does not take a ton of money or time to make better choices but it does take personal commitment and focus.