5 Tips for Mastering Consistency
The beach has been a hive of activity recently. There are your usual walkers and runners, but recently there's been the addition of fitness groups either doing boot camp, pilates or yoga.
This is nothing really new; by mid - October the weather starts to pick up and the realisation that bikini season is almost upon us hits. For some of us anxiety, regret and self loathing creeps in. Those familiar thoughts start to get a little louder; why didn't I exercise more during winter? Why did I eat all that chocolate? I wish I could look more like her.
The prospect of peeling ourselves from the comfort of our woollen jumpers and into summer clothing can have this effect on us, our inner dialogue becomes very loud, particularly negative and just down right mean! Some of us do a mad dash to the gym, some begin calorie restricting - still that inner critic berates you for not having iron self-control and failing at your mission to not gain weight over winter.
What if next Spring you didn't have to go through this familiar routine and could have the freedom to enjoy the beauty of Spring?
I've always been fairly self-critical and for me this spring routine has always been pretty normal. I mean, I went through it every year, my friends go through it and from the looks of it, half the girls on Instagram are going through it as well. This spring is the first time that things are different. Why? Simply because I've managed to be consistent. Consistency has bought a sense of freedom to my life I didn't think was possible and that self-critical voice isn't as loud as she used to be. Now consistency is something I have pined after for a long time, I truly envied people who had mastered it and thought it was something I'd never be able to achieve. So how did I do it? I started being kinder to myself and took the time to listen to my body.
These are my top five tips for mastering consistency and inviting a wonderful sense of freedom into your life.
1. Don't be so hard on yourself
It's time to start being kinder to yourself and stop demanding perfection. No one can maintain a perfect eating plan or workout regime for a prolonged period, trying to do so can leave you feeling inadequate, send you into a cycle of negative behaviour and simply stop you enjoying life. When it comes to food there's a reason why we crave high starch and sugar foods in the colder months, our serotonin levels drop due to a lack of sunshine and our brain tries to increase them with known mood boosting foods. Understanding why your body is craving certain foods helps you nourish yourself accordingly rather than berating yourself for not craving salad.
2. Move everyday
Now I know this sounds harder than exercising 4 times a week, but trust me it isn't. When I say move everyday I don't mean go hard 7 days a week - I simply mean move your body everyday. This could be 30 minutes of stretching, going for a walk in nature or quickly jumping online to do a 15 minute workout video. By all means make a rough workout plan, but if you wake up and you feel like going for a walk rather than the gym just do it - listen to your body. Simply moving everyday is going to lift your mood, improve your outlook and best of all silence that inner negativity. Soon you'll be craving your daily exercise and can move onto harder or longer workouts if you so wish.
3. Tomorrow never comes
Have you ever decided not to exercise today because you'll do twice as much tomorrow? I used to do this all the time. What would happen? I would wake up having set myself a hugely unrealistic task and all of a sudden the day's exercise seemed like a punishment, something I wanted to avoid because it was going to be gruelling. I'd end up not doing it, the self-loathing guilt would set in and the whole cycle would start again tomorrow.
Next time you do this take a minute to be present and focus on the now (not tomorrow). Make no promises or deals with yourself; simply acknowledge your behaviour, thoughts and emotions - write them down if you need to. The next morning take 5 minutes to tune in with your body: what movement doesn't it want? What nutrients does it need? What would make it truly happy? Becoming in tune with your body is going to help you achieve a healthy rhythm to life; everyday is different and your needs change daily, so asses them daily.
4. Switch don't restrict
Rather than focusing on cutting out 'bad' foods from your diet, focus on adding in new exciting nutrient rich foods into your diet. If you want chocolate try a delicious raw chocolate or a cacao raw ball. If you're craving carbs make a delicious bowl of goodness filled with veggies and a new grain you've wanted to try (quinoa, millet, amaranth, barley, wild rice etc.).
5. Don't be fooled
There is no quick fix to living a healthy life. No tea or superfood is going to magically tone you or make you lose weight. Searching for a quick fix is just preventing you from actually getting down to the nitty gritty and addressing the behaviours and thoughts that are keeping you captive in a negative cycle. Setting aside some time to tune into your body on a daily basis will give you a greater self-awareness and create a much kinder environment for you to practice consistency; this will ultimately lead to a healthy sustainable rhythm that's tailored to your way of life.
Consistency is not about perfection. Give yourself time, lots of kindness and remember that food and exercise is here to nourish you not to punish you.