My fitness career actually began because I was having a miserable time fitting me and my fitness into my life. I had a very demanding professional life that had me traveling 70-80% of the time coupled with long hours. I shudder at the memories. I was 70 pounds overweight and completely frustrated that I had a life that seemed to have no room for me. As my story goes, I had an epiphany that opened my eyes to a different path. I left my consulting career and began to design a life that included a profession that made me happy and that was structured around my health and fitness.
That epiphany and life redesign happened in 2003 (almost 14 years ago). At times I have struggled in figuring out how to keep my health and fitness as the center most point of my life. Through the inevitable ups and downs, I return often to the vision and the principles that were in play for me back in 2003. Doing so re-energizes my journey and my resolve to keep working on those lessons. I share these with you in hopes that they might help you in your fitness journey.
My most valuable lesson? Everything is negotiable except for your non-negotiables.
You know the saying, “when something needs to be done, give it to the busiest person!” That was me. When a work priority came my way, I would jump right into it. I’d ask when it needed to be done and possibly negotiated a due date, but by that time, the project was already on my desk; I owned it. Consequently, workouts were missed and my nutritional house was a disaster as I searched out the most convenient food (which also was some of the most unhealthy food) while working long hours.
I learned to ask a very simple question when a work priority began to threaten my “me time.”
This was a huge turning point for me. I would simply ask, “Gee, I see that this is an important project for you, is there any way that we could meet tomorrow on it? I have an appointment I need to get to tonight.” Ninety-nine percent of the time (ok, maybe 95%), the person would say “Sure, it can wait. That actually works better for me,” or “You know what, I think I can handle it myself.”
And off I went to take care of myself – whether it was a workout, a trip to the grocery store, or simply a nice, relaxing evening at home. I no longer assumed I had to cancel “me” in order to meet the work request.
Find your non-negotiables and stand your ground.
When you really and truly decide that your health and fitness are a top priority, you will begin to see where you have to redesign your life in order to make those priorities happen.
When you really and truly decide that your health and fitness are a top priority, you will begin to see where you have to redesign your life in order to make those priorities happen. In some cases, it may be as draconian as my choice – I quit my job and went another direction. Or it might involve renegotiating roles and responsibilities at home and at work. That can be awkward. But once you make your choice that your health and fitness are important values, you will find a surge of creativity and power to have those tough conversations with bosses, co-workers, family, and friends. And have the gumption to make big changes in your life, if necessary.
Make a list of your non-negotiables and stick to it. Maybe it is no fewer than two workouts a week. Even better, set those non-negotiable workouts in your calendar. You might draw a boundary around Sundays and make that your day to plan meals and prep the ingredients for the week. Think about how many meals minimally you want to eat out versus at home. Then be prepared to guard and protect those non-negotiables. I even went to the extent to say massages and haircut appointments were non-negotiables. I scheduled those on particular days of the week and said “no” to everything else on those dates. I felt guilty at times, but the joy of taking care of what was most important to me pushed that guilty aside!
No one is responsible for your health and fitness – except you!
Waiting for someone else to see the light or change their ways in order for you to become more healthy and more fit is really living someone else’s life – certainly not yours.
Waiting for someone else to see the light or change their ways in order for you to become more healthy and more fit is really living someone else’s life – certainly not yours. In fact, it is likely those around you will attempt to “negotiate” with you to change your ways. If you change back, then they don’t have to change at all. This seems to be more true when it comes to exercise and nutrition. And it speaks more about the other person than it does about you.
Ever had someone talk you out of a workout because they wanted to go out for happy hour? How about a spouse who got annoyed when you wanted to change the dinner menu to a more healthy choice? I had a friend who argued with me that my weight wasn’t really an issue (at the time I was 70 pounds overweight) when I sought support for making some health changes. She was trying to convince me that I was fine the way I was (or was she trying to convince herself?).
People are funny, and people have their own agendas for us, which may not always match what we want for ourselves.
Gosh – I even had a friend yell at me when I was putting just a “dab” of cream cheese on a bagel. It frustrated her to see me (or anyone) eat a bagel without cream cheese oozing off of it. Go figure! People are funny, and people have their own agendas for us, which may not always match what we want for ourselves.
The more you can take control of your health and fitness, the more in control you will be. It doesn’t matter what others want for you; it matters what you want for yourself.
If my experience can ever be of help to you to stay on track or to fit fitness into your life, please call me (630.653.8152). I am happy to help any way I can.