Take a moment to think about the word “commitment”. What images or defining words come to mind? Do you think of yourself first or do you think of another person? If you are constantly putting others before yourself, even when it comes to making commitments to yourself and your health, I hope this blog will inspire you to make some changes with the order of things.
While the actual definition of commitment may sound a bit intense, it may be a bit less intimidating to think of commitment as dedicating yourself to something (like a person, a cause, or an action) that leads to a sense of fulfillment or brings about energized focus. For the purposes of this blog, we are going to focus on actions that you feel you can commit to on a regular basis so you can look, feel, and perform as your best self.
You may find that keeping commitments to yourself is much more difficult than keeping commitments to others. If so, understand that this is very common! When you break a commitment to yourself, you are only letting yourself down and the justification involved in doing so comes with ease for many.
On the other hand, when you break a commitment to another person chances are that brings about feelings of guilt, disappointment, and frustration for both you and the other party. Knowing that you may be letting another person down by breaking a commitment could be the very thing that actually leads to dedicated follow-through. Start treating yourself like your best friend or loved one when making commitments that only impact you and see if things change.
Think about diets or exercise programs you’ve tried in the past. I’d guess that with “dieting” or “programming” you are given a set of rules and guidelines to follow. At first, you are committed to the eating plan or lifestyle changes encouraged by your diet or program of choice. Over time, you’ll probably find that your commitment fades. You may find that some of the foods required as part of the plan are less than enjoyable or your meal plan is too repetitive. Or perhaps there is too much structure built into the plan and you’d prefer more flexibility.
Make a commitment to yourself to find what works for you by building your own system. Instead of choosing to follow yet another meal plan or diet program, why not start to build your own nutritional commitments to yourself based on what you know to be of importance to your own health and wellness. Assess your day-to-day routine and be realistic about daily actions that you can commit to that feel like a bit of a stretch without being overwhelming.
If you have followed a number of diet programs in the past, what pieces or parts of those other programs actually felt good to you? What parts of other programs did you truly enjoy? What components of other programs were actually leading to success and change without leaving you feeling depleted and drained?
Once you’ve thought about answers to these questions, you can use this knowledge to formulate your own personalized plan. As part of this plan, I’d encourage you to identify 3 things you can commit to on a daily basis to help. Dr. Jade refers to these things as your “metabolic keystone” habits, which is basically a behavior, that when done, has multiple beneficial trickle-down effects.
As you think about lifestyle changes that are simple and doable, and hopefully even enjoyable, formulate an action plan as part of the process. Having a solid plan in place to lay out your intentions allows you to prioritize the parts of your commitment that will really move the needle. While formulating your plan, factor in things like your personal preferences and practical circumstances. Once you do that, there is built-in importance to the daily actions that you are committing to.
For me, my 3 nutritional commitments may change with the season. For example, most every spring, I’m known to spend my weekends away from home at baseball games since my son participates in tournaments and seasonal games. While I could easily choose things like having a salad for lunch daily, when I’m away from home at a baseball game, that simply isn’t realistic. I’m not always able to pack fresh food, or if I do, I don’t find it appealing after sitting in the hot sun all day.
For me, when I have goals in mind and I don’t meet them, I end up feeling frustrated and disappointed. Rather than feeling this way, I choose goals that I know can be done with some effort, but also can be worked into my day no matter my obligations. As an example so you better understand the process, my nutritional commitments this spring are:
1. Get in 10,000 steps daily as a way to keep stress in check and help with mood stability. When my mood and stress are in check, cravings aren’t much of an issue.
2. Drink plenty of water so as not to mistake thirst for hunger and have a natural, built-in mechanism for reducing inflammation. I try to use a sauna blanket at least 3-4 times per week to help with inflammation, too, but weekends don’t allow for this so water is a great alternative.
3. Get in protein with every meal and snack, which often involves having a protein shake between 11 and noon. This way I can get a jumpstart on keeping my hunger in check. Starting the day off strong with plenty of protein leads to less hunger and snacking into the evening, too.
As you build out your commitments, remember to stay flexible. While I’d love to blend up my own shakes daily, if I’m not able to do so because I’m at an 11 am game, I may choose to have a ready-to-drink shake instead. And while I’d love to be able to take 2, 20-30 minute walks to ensure my steps are close to being met, while I’m away at tournaments I may have to get my steps in through parking lot laps or a quick 5-10 minute walk between games.
If you need more ideas for building your own health commitments, or keystone nutritional habits, don’t worry! In another blog, I’ll be sharing some of Dr. Jade’s work in the form of a podcast and video to help you out.
If you are good to go and have some ideas in mind, start living out your commitments today! Notice if by committing to yourself, your commitments to others change too! You may find that when you are performing at your very best, you are more motivated to serve and care for others.