Being in it for the long haul means looking long term at what health and fitness really means to you and how you can sustain it FOR LIFE!

There is no such thing as a quick fix. Health issues have usually taken years to manifest – and they will take time (perhaps just as long again) to resolve themselves – and there may be some hiccups along the way. Particularly when consistency is part of the problem. The idea of committing to a longer time frame can be intimidating for a lot of people, but it is important to realise that big, sustainable, changes are not going to happen overnight. It takes time, dedication, and a real desire to want it for the rest of your life.

Most of us are usually very excited to start a program, only to feel that initial excitement start to wane as soon as the going gets tough and the realisation hits that results take time, and that this is not for the faint hearted. This realisation is a game-changer. Really being in it to win it means that you are determined to stay the course, and that you are willing to put in the effort that it takes to see results. New Year resolutions are a typical example; you start off in January full speed ahead, but often by February the motivation has gone, along with any of the results you may have started to see.

Sometimes our progress may be slow, but this doesn’t mean improvements aren’t occurring. However, it can deter us from staying consistent if we aren’t seeing results quickly enough. Impatience to get to our goals can actually hinder our progress, as we perceive we aren’t getting there fast enough – or think nothing is happening.

And it can be incredibly frustrating when we don’t achieve our goals within a certain time frame that we have set, but our bodies don’t work to order and patience will be necessary to keep going. Sometimes it may even get worse before it gets better. It sounds counter-intuitive if we are doing “everything right”, but we are organisms that need time to adjust, and often heal, from the detrimental issues from our past. Small adjustments are likely to be necessary before we find the sweet spot where everything starts to come together.

I remember when I changed my diet completely, after discovering that I am gluten intolerant. I removed gluten from my diet, using a Paleo template. Although the symptoms of the gluten intolerance disappeared immediately, I experienced quite severe stomach issues and really low energy. I remember thinking; “hang on, I am supposed to be getting better, not worse!” But our bodies have to adjust to new things that we throw at them. And there may also be other tweaks that we have to make. The stomach issues settled down after a couple of weeks but I still had very low energy, which I knew wasn’t still due to “low carb flu” symptoms. I eventually figured it out – having removed several foods that would have given me protein, (due to the fact that they contained wheat flour and were processed to some degree), as a vegetarian I was now left with very few foods that would provide the building blocks necessary for repair and renewal. As an active fitness instructor, this was not good news. What to do? I made a very important decision to put meat and fish back onto my plate. My energy levels soared within a couple of days. There have since been many adjustments that I have made to my nutrition, and each step has taken me further towards improved health.

The same can be said for exercise. Oftentimes we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into a new routine only to be aching head to toe for a week afterwards, or worse, injuring ourselves, and so we decide that it’s not for us! But we didn’t even give it a real try. We expect to be proficient at something we have only just started, but realistically it takes practice and commitment for this to happen.

Being in it for the long haul means that you can afford to take your time to do things properly, learn technique, monitor how foods affect you, make tweaks and adjustments along the way and, above all, stick to your game plan. Remember when you were just starting school and learning to read and write and do maths? How did you achieve success? By practising every day, by not giving up, by incorporating it into your life so that it was habitual. Sure, you “had” to go to school – and you had help from teachers – but you can get help from personal trainers, nutritionists and other qualified professionals to ensure that you know what you are doing, receive motivation to keep going, get help monitoring your progress and be held accountable when the going gets tough. It’s a bit like doing your homework every day, but on the best, and most interesting and important, subject – YOU!

Being in it for the long haul means that it is a part of your life, a part of you. Finding out, and committing, to what works for you is important if you want to reach your goals, without worrying what others may think or say. When other people realise that this is just what you do everyday (eg; your dietary pattern, your exercise routine), and understand your commitment to it, they will accept that this is who you are, without giving you a hard time about it. Sometimes we overthink things in an effort to fit in and please/appease other people in our life, but it can leave us feeling short-changed and despondent. Would we give someone else a hard time for their healthy lifestyle habits? If the answer is a resounding “NO, of course not”, then it’s time to stop the quick fixes and concentrate on making health a long term commitment. Putting yourself first is not a selfish act – it is an act of self-love, and one that will benefit not only you but everyone that is connected to you.

Working out your WHY is crucial to being able to maintain consistency. When we know WHY we are doing something and WHY it matters to us, then we are better able to really focus on reaching that end goal. It may be someway off in the distance but staying focused and determined are key elements necessary to success.

I am in it for the long haul because I want to be as healthy as possible as I get older. I want to be able to run around with my grandchildren when they eventually arrive, I want to be fit and strong and mobile, I want to have all my mental faculties so that I can still join in the conversations and be an active part of my family. I want to avoid the cancers that have affected my family over the years. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but doing the very best I can Every. Single. Day. is the commitment that I have made to myself. I am in it for the long haul.

Life is too short to be unhealthy and unhappy with yourself. Embrace the long haul and achieve those goals!