Have you ever noticed the focus on losing weight, reducing dress sizes and changes to your waistline that are so much a part of women’s fitness programs? The dramatic before and after photos, measurements of success in kilos and centimetres lost. This is all compelling stuff.
It can make you feel like things can get better, if only the weight comes off. Women in the photos move from being unhappy, unfulfilled and unable to tackle life. Transformed by weight loss, they are delighted with life, goal-orientated and powerful.
There’s no denying that losing weight can help you feel better about yourself. Yet it’s not the whole ballgame. At Body Beyond Birth, we don’t focus on measuring success in how many dress sizes you drop or kilos you shed. We’re about empowering you to feel great in your body.
Here’s how you can change your lifestyle instead of your waistline – and why you should care more about that then what other women’s fitness programs lead you to believe
Why should you focus on lifestyle changes?
Losing the weight to wear your wedding dress, looking fantastic for the school reunion or because you’re tired of having your body dictate your wardrobe can be that little edge you need to get involved in weight loss and fitness. Yet once you achieve the goal, or even during, how sustainable is this?
When you want to make a lasting change, whether it’s related to fitness or not, there must be more than the end goal in mind.
To make a lasting change, you need to look at your motivations. This includes-
- Valuing the change on a deep, personal level. This is about you striving to attain a new level to your identity and viewing yourself in a new way. Or getting the vision of you that you hold in your head to match what the rest of the world sees
- Exercising independence and a feeling of control. If you feel as though you’re on a mission that you are connecting with, overcoming doubts, negative self-talk and excuses is a natural part of the process
- Authentic interest in the tasks you are performing. We’re buoyed by working on things that intrigue, interest and challenge us. Therefore, choosing the right form of women’s exercise program is so important. It helps create the conditions for enhanced performance, creative problem-solving and persistence
On the flipside, if you choose something out of default or without knowing why, you may lack the connection you need to head off any bumps on the road to health. When you come up against obstacles and blocks, it’s much easier to face them and defeat them when you understand the motivation on a deep, intrinsic level.
Taking up hula hooping because it’s the latest craze doesn’t satiate our interest, excitement or desire to obtain confidence through performing the act. And if you feel like you are being restricted, pushed or bullied into change, you have a much greater chance of failure.
The desire to change and the roadmap to making it stick must come from you.
What is a lifestyle change?
A lifestyle change is about refocussing your efforts to eliminate behaviours we feel don’t serve us anymore. It’s also finding suitable replacements for those changes. It’s not about an end game, more about creating a whole picture of health.
Changing your lifestyle in relation to health may include some of the following:
- Understanding the sort of exercise that works for you – and the kind of women’s fitness program that fits your lifestyle
- Auditing your current diet and looking at positive ways to change your eating habits
- Assessing your relationship with food, your emotional states and interaction patterns
- Reviewing your usage of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and/or medications
- Facing emotional barriers and/or ideas that have made it difficult for you to sustain change in the past. E.g. issues with body image, self-doubt
- Critically analysing your stress levels and/or mental health and adopting routines that help reduce stress and foster resilience
- Focussing on self-care strategies and adding in activities that promote me time
- Looking for ways to add incidental exercise to your everyday routine
- Reviewing your inter-personal relationships and friendships in relation to your health and wellbeing
- Examining your career and the impact it has on your self-worth, intrinsic motivators and health
Look for the areas that support you and address what you would like to change.
How to set the stage for lifestyle change
Change doesn’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up one morning with a chocolate bar welding your face to the pillow and decide “enough is enough!”
The process is about thinking about you as a person and where you are now in relation to where you’d prefer to be. It’s also about researching, gathering information and assembling your tools. This is part of the reason why we blog at Body Beyond Birth for example. We want you to make a fully informed decision about the kind of women’s fitness program that suits your purposes and goals. Giving you what you need to make that decision is our goal.
During this stage, it’s also important to reduce the friction and barriers. For example, having a start date to a program might be all good and well, but if it’s smack in the middle of a hectic time of your life, it won’t happen. Or you might attempt the change and find you must pause half way through.
The key to remaining motivated is to have SMART goals- specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based goals that you can implement.
Set your specific goal- e.g. I will add 50% vegetables to my plate and eat them first every meal
Measure and monitor progress- e.g. catalogue every day you use your women’s fitness program on your daily wall calendar along with incidental exercise moments to see the days with exercise add up
Aim for achievement- e.g. set goals like “walk the kids to school today” and have a back up goal in case something like rain interrupts the plan
The realistic, friendly approach- e.g. instead of throwing out all the food you no longer want to eat from the cupboard, aim to run the foods down and replace them with healthier alternatives next time you do the grocery shopping
Timetable for optimum performance- e.g. make yourself accountable to your goals by setting a time to complete 20 minutes of Pilates based exercise instead of hoping your day will guide you to the right moment
Change is rarely a straight line from beginning to end. You will come up against obstacles on the road to your destination. You might find that you backtrack, falter and even fail once, twice or more. Failure isn’t instead of success, it’s a part of it. Sometimes, you must scrape a knee to get fired up enough to take another run at the hill.
Ready to start your journey towards long-lasting lifestyle change? Jump on the Body Beyond Birth women’s fitness program now!