This is the final article of my 3 part series 3 simple steps to becoming Fit2Thrive. Fit2Thrive is all about getting fit through fun which is the opposite of all the fitness and health programmes I seem to hear about.
Step one is to play because you must spend your life happy otherwise what is the point of all the effort you put in. Step two is to compete which means take care of your responsibilities including your job, family, friends and other commitments because they underpin your life and without them you would have nothing.
The final step is about using where you are now, which is your current set of responsibilities, and finding a path towards where you want to be which is spending more and more time playing. It doesn’t have to mean drastic changes to your life like leaving your job or losing a ton of weight or going to the gym for hours each week. It means discovering the endless opportunities to create a better you given the life and opportunities you already have.
Bored and run down
My biggest fear over Christmas is boredom because I will be spending a bunch of time out of my normal routine, away from all my usual creature comforts, often in some one elses house and I will be expected to act in a certain way.
This can be fun because you are spending quality time with people and catching up but it can also be a pressured or boring time because you can’t just be yourself and do the things you would normally do or maybe the things you really want to do.
I also associate Christmas with feeling lethargic, tired and under the weather. Funnily enough these are the symptoms of a lack of activity because throughout the year whenever I become as lazy as I do at Christmas I begin to feel this way. So my practice throughout the year has been on fixing the way I feel and the answer has been as simple as finding some way to move.
I might tidy up, do the washing, pop to the shops or of course I play with my son. The funny thing is that the lack of our normal activity and routine at Christmas is what often make us feel lack than perfect but the beauty is that we get to choose how to be active these days. Centuries ago no one had a choice, they had to move to do anything but now we have the opportunity to choose our movement diet and this Christmas I am looking for even more ways to fight any winter blues through play and movement.
So the third step is about creating new solutions so that you get a little closer to where you want to be and the fun you want to have. The way you normally do things creates the memories that you are used to so making changes to your normal habits enables you to create new types of memories.
If you haven’t found it yet keep looking – Steve Jobs
I focus on memories because in the end life is really about experiences and memories of them. I put to you that time is the most important thing that you ever spend because it is the one thing that you never get back. Time with your kids, your family and loved ones can never be repeated so it is what it is and what you make of it.
Christmas is therefore a wonderful opportunity because you get to make memories that last for the rest of your life. and the only real choice you have is how you go about making those memories.
What I have done is spend the whole year preparing for this big yearly festival by practising the skill of making good memories. That means I have learnt many more ways to create great Christmas memories that also make me stronger and healthier.
For example last night I took a walk because I hadn’t done much all day and got a chance to see the unique beauty of Christmas. I visited some of my favourite spots and got to see some very special scenes.
This is what I love about getting out and about to refresh my mind, I get to see such special things that I don’t get to see sitting at home like:
- the Christmas lights around the neighbourhood,
- the reflection of lights off the canal
- and the view across the city at night.
My camera isn’t good enough to capture these but my mind is and I now have those memories. So, what I want to share with you is the enjoyment of moving well because it means I can enjoy the unique treasures that life has to offer.
Christmas is also the perfect time to learn about food because there is so much about. Eating well is about finding balance in your diet so what better time to explore as many options as you can 🙂
The standard approach to a balanced diet is to eat some fun stuff and balance it out with some boring stuff but, given that description you can understand why people ignore the boring stuff and head straight to filling up on fun.
My solution is to do with food what I do with everything else, explore and create options that work for me. As a result I have a ton of food options that work specifically for me but I haven’t banned or removed anything from my diet. Instead I have increased the range of foods and combinations I have tried and kept those I like.
I used this approach to overcome my addiction to thick indulgent heavy cream. Cream is wonderful and works with so many foods but I wanted new experiences so I explored and discovered new options like creme fraiche and yoghurt which create interesting tastes and textures. So now I have much more choice and freedom with my food and it is this freedom that creates my balanced diet.
I am now as likely to savour a mince pie with a clementine to add a wonderful acidic orange sauce to the mince pie experience as I am to enjoy a mince pie with rich brandy cream. You can imagine the difference in calories and fat of the two sauces but that isn’t my focus. When I have lots of cream then I get bored of cream and prefer something else like oranges and apples which naturally balance things out. They cut through the richness of the cream, balancing out my diet and my body but I do this by balancing out my tastes and memories not through starving myself of choice but using choice and variety as a strength.
So instead of counting calories or steps I ask myself “how much more fun am I having?” and “how many new options have I learnt?” I use each day as a chance to invest in myself and my future by learning more about how I want to live.
Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself – Coco Chanel
This way of approaching health doesn’t take as much effort because I am focusing entirely on creating the best memories I can from any given time, event or opportunity.
Seeing the world in a new exciting way is a wonderful approach to solving any challenge. I often get views of my city from a similar perspective to the skyline of Montreal above and this is a simple example of enabling special experiences by moving.
So the approach to Christmas I have explained is something I have been working on for a long time by spending each day trying ways to have fun and get fitter at the same time. I have been expanding my horizons so I can think in different ways and learn from other people and cultures to solve the modern health challenges we all face.
The beauty is that I have now had 365 chances since last Christmas to practice making the festive season brilliant for me. We all get good at stuff we do regularly and so I now have a bunch of solutions for most of the challenges I am going to face. I know how to really enjoy food in more situations and how to feel better through eating food I like instead of worse.
I can also see the opportunities to move at home or elsewhere and I am well prepared to be able to move. Having a son is making it easier and not harder because I get to play with and support him. So being a parent is not the challenge to my health that it could be.
Create new memories
Create really just means that the way you live today determines what you have to work with tomorrow.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for
So the whole philosophy of Fit2Thrive comes down to figuring out:
- where you want to be in life,
- where you are
- and creating a path to get from where you are to where you want to be.
This is how you can have fun, live life and get fit all at the same time.
That is a very short introduction to my philosophy and I hope you have enjoyed it. If you want to get more out of Christmas and the rest of your year then I have created a free short course to get you started. All you need to do is sign up to my newsletter.
I will keep sharing tips and ideas on Fit2Thrive but my newsletter is where I will share most because that is where I get to work with people who really want to make a change in their lives.
I love coaching and sharing and I enjoy helping people achieve their dreams. Joining my newsletter tells me you want to do everything you can to make your next year happier and healthier.[optinform]
Photo credits: cottage in the snow by Skeletalmess, montreal skyline by Jazmin Million, snow bridge by Tim Hamilton, ice reindeer sculpture by MattysFlicks, Christmas decorations by Heiko.J, bored dog by jill, jellidonut… whatever, the mince pies are by Neil Cummings