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We all have challenges with our fitness and wellness. Body image is very subjective. We can feel like we look amazing one minute and terrible the next. Mood & emotions are involved. 

This is a great reason to make healthy choices mentally, physically, and socially. We need to focus on progress with activity, clean nutrition, mindfulness, and gratitude, and foster healthy relationships with people, food, and ourselves.

As a health and wellness professional, I end up in conversations with people assuming that I don’t have any challenges with holding the healthy accountability line. Those that know me well know differently. It’s not to say that I don’t do a lot of healthy things for myself and support those around me with health, but I have been challenged with sugar and overeating my whole life. I often have to press the reset button. This is a life to live and love, and a lifestyle to learn, adapt, and work on. We all have challenges.

I know when I am in a groove, I feel amazing and empowered, with better clarity and energy. I am lean and strong, with a great flow. This comes to me with great mindfulness & gratitude practice. I am involved in diverse workouts in the gym, both outside and at home. I have a great variety of real food intake, with plenty of veggies, fermented foods, and grass-fed and wild caught animals & fish. I am drinking water throughout the day. My sleep is great, as I am doing everything to help my body and mind function at their best. I feel invincible and incredible!  

There are times when I get overwhelmed and I end up overeating, getting sugar in my system. When that happens, my sleep is inconsistent, because I am not feeling well. My workouts suffer as I get more sluggish. My body gets inflamed as my clothes get tighter and my joints increase in pain.

Yes, I am human as well. 

So what can we do to limit the slide and maintain more of the healthy options? Remind ourselves of what our goals are and why we have them, on a daily basis. We need to create a vision and reality of our new, healthier selves, using mindfulness and meditation practices. We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to pay attention to what we are doing and why we are doing it, everyday. We need to create healthy systems. When we find ones that are working, we need to keep doing them until they turn into healthy habits.

We do things for either pleasure or to avoid pain. Sometimes, we do things to cause pain, but that is where guilt and shame come in. The more we communicate with those close to us of what we want, why we want it, and put the voice in a positive light, the easier it is to be healthier and feel better.

Make a list of what you love about yourself, now.

Make a list of what you are going to love about the new you.

What systems and habits do you need to put into place to help you get there?

Here’s a list of a few healthy things I do for myself. Some of these habits are currently automatic and natural to me, others come and go. Feel free to share some of your healthy habits.

Take cold showers. This I have been doing for over a year and don’t see myself ever not doing it. It’s easy, which is funny, because a lot of people feel that it’s crazy. But, I feel so good from this, that there is not a single negative thought that comes to my mind about it. It’s easy.

Drink water. First thing when you wake (try adding fresh, squeezed lemon).

Abstain from or limit alcohol intake. I have been off from alcohol for over 2 years now. I still explore the idea of a drink now and then. I have had a drink maybe 6 times in the last 2 years. Every time I do, it is a single drink or less and I remind myself that I am not interested. 

Abstain from processed foods. Many processed foods are not technically suitable for consumption and directly cause illness and disease. Be aware of what you are eating and read labels. Many labels are misleading and inaccurate, so best practice is locally grown and raised produce, and animals. Many processed foods are filled with chemicals, pesticides, and added sugars, which directly lead to disease. When it comes to soda, energy drinks, and juice, these are just asking for trouble. Natural juicing can be beneficial, with organic vegetables and fruits, but often we end up juicing too much fruit (sugar) and not enough veggies. Balance is important.

Exercise. Every day, I like to put an amount of time with this one. I aim for diversity, with strength, cardio, stability and balance work, and interval training.

Practice mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude. I find this is helpful for reconnecting with what I do and why I do it.

Journal. Tracking what I do for activity, what I put in my body, goals, how I feel, what’s going on in my world. This is a diary of details that helps me find patterns and create positive change. Aside from tracking details of intake and activity, a journal has other great benefits for my mental health! 

Schedule social activities. This can be a challenge with our busy schedules. It’s important to create a balance and get some down time for ourselves, as well as socially.

Eat/drink fermented foods and beverages. There has been more research on our gut health and microbiome in recent years showing incredible disease fighting and health benefits to fermented food intake. This is an ancient process that has stuck around for great reasons.

Protect my eyes from technology and limit screen time. Being in front of a screen before bed will not allow us to get proper rest and recovery. Even if we find we get to sleep, our brains are inhibited from deep recovery REM sleep. Social Media especially can lead to harmful thoughts, as seeing people’s highlight reels can make us feel like our lives are less glamorous or less enjoyable.

Take Away

Find your triggers.

What makes you go for a glass of wine, grab a beer, or pour some liquor over ice? 

What makes you overeat or go for sugar?

What paralyzes you and keeps you inactive and locked away?

Find positive, healthy habits that will make you feel better and replace the negative on top of negative. 

Give yourself a break and avoid the judgement. Decide what healthy choices you are going to make for yourself and your family. Work towards better health and enjoy the benefits of great joy and experience. This will help your body and mind overcome illness and disease, and you will live a better life! Treat yourself like you would treat and support someone else that you love. 

You are human. You are going to make mistakes. Learn from them. Live it and Love it. It’s better than the alternative.

Nate Yandow is a certified trainer, nutritionist, and the owner of Duke's Fitness Center.