“Take the first step. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”Martin Luther King Jr.
These words have given me immense motivation and comfort in the past months. They have given me the courage to start something I’d been wanting and needing to do.
Just this August, with the help of my health coach, Roanna, I decided to confront things that I had been needing to work on for myself. I might have been avoiding to confront myself with my bad habits. I was aware that these habits were never good for me but I still kept doing them, out of convenience and out of habit. Ignorance is bliss, but not when it comes to health, especially when it takes a toll on our health.
Before diving into this, Roanna helped me figure out the areas of my health that I needed to focus on and why. She helped me narrow them down to: food, sleep, and exercise (they’re different for everyone). I had been neglecting my health for I don’t know how long, and I finally realized that the longer I avoided confronting them, the more my health would decline. Definitely, something had to change.
Since then, I’d been making some changes and incorporating new habits into my lifestyle. Some of it are working out at least thrice a week and sleeping before midnight. When you think about it, it doesn’t seem much. Anyone could do that, right? Definitely! Anyone who puts their mind and heart into something they want to could do it! But, there’s a catch – it’s not easy. Honestly, it has been a challenge for me. It still is. I got used to sleeping really late. I would lose track of time browsing social media, watching videos/Kdramas, daydreaming, and I usually slept at 3am. I knew that I was doomed when I would see the sun already peering inside the room. It happened countless of times.
Another thing that I’m currently addressing is exercise. I have this on and off relationship with working out. I had usually done it for 3 consecutive months in a year and then something would come up, like my travels. Then, I wouldn’t be able to do it for days. Getting back into that routine of working out would drag on, then I wouldn’t do it anymore. Months after, I’d start again. I had tried different things over the past years: Hip-hop Abs, jogging, going to the gym with friends, going to the gym alone, boxing, attending dance classes, yoga, zumba; etc., but they never lasted a year.
I tend to think of the bigger picture first when I imagine doing something. We figured that it has made me feel overwhelmed at times, and has made me feel that a certain goal is impossible to do and achieve. And so, I learned that the key was to focus on one thing first. Like everything in life, we can accomplish things one step at a time.
1. Knowing my why
I ask myself these questions: “What’s my reason for doing it?”; ” Why do I badly want to change?”; ”Why do I need to do this?”; “Will this make me a better person?”; “Will I be happier when I achieve this or that goal?” It’s important to dig deep and start being honest with yourself. It’s not easy figuring out what we need (or to sit yourself down and give yourself some real talk) but, it’s essential in making positive changes in our lives.
2. Identifying the habits and things that get in the way or stop me from taking positive action
We carry a lot of harmful habits that we don’t notice because we’re so used to doing them. They become part of our nature. And, since I wanted to address my habits of sleeping really late and not making time for exercise, I tried to think about the other habits and things that were not helping me or holding me back. I figured that these were what I needed to break (or at least lessen) to help create a new positive pattern for myself. Habits like: snacking before bed; bringing my phone with me in bed; browsing social media repeatedly; playing games on my phone; snoozing my alarm for more than 5 times in the morning. While with exercising and finding the will to be consistent in doing it, I had to stop making excuses for myself and thinking that I could delay it ’til tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes tomorrow, and then tomorrow again… until it never happens.
3. Trusting and believing in myself that I can make that change
Before anyone else, I had to look within myself. Everything we need is right inside – the drive, the will, the strength. The trust and belief we have for ourselves dictate how far can we go. It won’t always be a straight path where everything goes smoothly once we start, and that’s part of the process. The struggle is real… but there’s beauty in struggle. It has given me comfort to realize that the real change was actually happening in the inside first.
We have to know ourselves to stick to something challenging and hard. We have to be our own cheerleader to pick ourselves up during the bad days, because there will be bad days. There will be days when you don’t want to do it, or days when you feel like what you’re doing is not enough and you’re not making any progress. That trust and belief you have for yourself will keep you going.
4. Having a support person and/or group.
It’s also important to have people whom you trust – people who love and care for you – to know that you’re trying to make a positive change in your life. It won’t be an easy journey. There are a lot of ups and downs, physically and mentally. It would definitely help to have people around who support you. Family and friends you can talk to and share your journey with.
There are days when my sisters and I worked out together. We also traded junk food to fruits and vegetables in our meals and snacks. It’s amazing to have these people push you to be better and not judge you for making changes and trying to be better than the current version of yourself.
5. Make time. Make an effort.
This is one of the things I continue to struggle with because I’m a person who lives inside her head. Making a plan and scheduling makes it more real – at least It’s not just in my head, and I actually have to do it! But, to do things and achieve our goals, we all have to start! So I did.
I wanted to sleep early and work out 5 times a week. I was very positive about it and looked forward to it. I got to do the sleeping by 10pm part the next week but only got to exercise once, because even if I slept early, I still kept on snoozing my alarm clock. In short, I still chose sleep over working out. So, I set my alarm earlier, so that even if I snoozed it for 3-5 times, when I get up, I still had time to work out. Changing our habits is something often really hard to do but we should make an effort to do something different from what we’re used to.
I always tell myself that I won’t get to where I wanna be if I keep on doing the same things. I know that I still have a long waaaaay to go. Instead of not doing something about it, I get to move and work out thrice a week. It’s better than not doing it. Even if I just do it for 15 minutes, the most important thing is I did something.
6. Keep going.
I’ve failed a lot of times in continuing to do things and I think the most crucial part is in pushing myself to keep on going. Now, it’s the will and the why inside of me that keeps me going. I may lose my rhythm from time to time but I’m not letting it completely push me off track. Leave room for mistakes and failures because that’s part of learning and being human. It really is true that we aspire for progress and not perfection, because perfection isn’t real. We can always pick up where we left off. Like what Stephen Covey said: “We become what we repeatedly do”. I think it’s important to be conscious of what we’re choosing for ourselves everyday. Just keep going. I keep in mind that when I look back, I’ll be amazed at how far I’ve come. The image I have of my better self? I think that’s worth fighting for.