When I realized I was wrong…. there I was, standing in a labyrinthine line that stretched seemingly from the East to the West, and it boasted a grand reward at the end. ‘Twas a booth that offered free trips to the Caribbean! No, it was a roller coaster.
Three hours… for a cart hoisted on tracks to spurn me into a ride of endorphin overload.
It jolted my limbs as a surrogate masseuse, yes, but it’s not what caught my eye. The people-watching: ever amusing; the cacophonous mixture of laughs and screams giving the amusement park a well-needed ambiance: adorable. The heat and dearth of anything remarkably close to healthy: a death knell.
When you go to an amusement park—while you believe you are the most prepared person to ever foot a park—within one hour you realize that you forgot to bring a hat. Then you look down and see you’re wearing jeans with hot, fluffy socks that in no way aerate your sweaty soles. Most sweetly, you brought one 16oz water bottle to sate your thirst for about 20 minutes. Good job.
There you are, sweating like a golden retriever in a summer dog park; you’re a mess, but, since you’ve had an affair with soda pop for the last ten years—you’re not a very hot mess. I mean, you can see your feet, but you’re at a juncture in life where your fitness expectations have not been met.
Mapping your habits
You need a map to navigate this whole “health” thing. I was there, and I tried several things. Let me give you some tips not how to create yourself a new body, but to help you map yourself a structure of healthy habits.
Avoid amusement parks. I haven’t met a soul who can resist a churro. (If you have that power, please comment below how you are a superhero.)
Drink water; and then drink more water. Ditch the sodas and other water-alternatives entirely. Sodas on average have upward of 36 grams of sugars, which will spike your blood sugar immediately and grant you some temporary energy—but they will render you listless and lacking in viable nutrients you need for the day. (If you really want to tackle the whole sugar problem, begin tapering the sugar/additives you use in your coffee in the morning. One packet of sugar contains 5-10 grams, and if you add several to your Vente Caramel Macchiato with Skim Milk and [Only] 2 Pumps of Extra Caramel, those simple carbohydrates will add up, tower over you, and consume you like the sun consumes the happy faces on a hot day at an amusement park while in line for 3 hours…)
If you’re having trouble getting that energy while you’re ditching soda, try an energy booster. A boost in your energy and metabolism will not only steer you from unhealthy alternatives but also give you the power to make healthier eating decisions.
Purchase active shoes/wear (if you don’t have any). Start small, but carve out a small slot of time a couple times a week to walk. Not everyone is dauntless enough to embark on a rigorous regime and start running daily. That’s for those superheroes in Step 0.
Maybe it’s before or after dinner—and even if it’s only in 10 or 15-minute increments—it will release endorphins, make you happy, and cause you to crave just a little more exercise each day. Endorphins (released by any type of physical activity, especially the enduring kind) even acts as an analgesic, a fancy word for a pain-reliever!
Don’t reward yourself too prematurely. I know that when I experience relatively minor victories in my healthy habits, I will go to the store, isle 10 (memorized by now), to the 3rd freezer at the end and buy some cheap 100-calorie creams. BUT IT’S NOT WORTH IT.
Resist the temptation to pat yourself on the back all the time. It’s good to feel good about yourself, but sometimes we have to teach our bodies the hard way. Breaking and replacing habits take at least 3 weeks to settle in. Remember that.
Interact with your friends/family. No, not in the form of “Hey, I just starting eating healthily and taking this new fitness drink; and I’m gonna stick to it this time!” Instead, encourage them without even telling them you’re working out. “Hey, how have you been pruning your habits recently?” “Is that supplement helping you?” “We should get some veggie tortas instead of waffles tomorrow at breakfast.”
Of course, this is optional, but I find (and maybe you have!) that when I work on my habits without broadcasting them, it somehow incentivizes me to continue them regardless of what people say. It’s like preparing for a beach trip two months before it happens just so you can reap the unforeseen compliments when you arrive clad in your favorite, scantier-than-before-but-modest beach apparel 😊.
Ask yourself, friend: how many steps do you really need?