Shift your mindset to lose weight | View health as a sport.

Why You Should View Health as a Sport

The United States continues to grapple with a worsening health crisis. According to Healthline, 36.5% of Americans are obese and 32.5% of Americans are overweight, so that means more than 60% of Americans are either overweight or obese.  The CDC reports an even higher number with 74% of Americans overweight or obese.    Reversing this trend requires us to evaluate a different approach, at least on an individual level. Perhaps viewing our health like a sport or an enjoyable hobby would inspire us to invest in it: to learn, practice, and actually get “good” at being healthy.

My name is Vance and I work as a Certified Health Coach, and practice as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competitor; I was a former college athlete and grew up playing numerous sports. As a health coach, my job is to support, educate and motivate my clients to lose weight and achieve optimal health that is sustainable in the long-term. I’ve outlined some observations below based on almost 3 years of coaching clients, plus what I see on the mats, in the weight room, and on the pitch. Every person is unique – strategies that work for one client may not work for another. However, I hope to offer a different perspective on weight loss and health that may inspire someone reading this, someone who identifies as a competitive athlete.

Practice consistently, despite the bad days

I suspect that at some point in our lives, most of us have played a sport, even if it was in a gym class. If not a sport, perhaps we invested our time playing a musical instrument, participating in the debate club, drama club or some other activity. Whether on the field, or in front of an audience, success requires practice and commitment. In many ways, your health isn’t all that different: every time you make a decision on what to eat or lace up your shoes to go for a run, you’re practicing, you’re “showing up” and sticking to your goals. After hundreds of conversations with my clients, I’ve realized that the biggest obstacle to long term sustainable weight loss is not the availability of information, but rather a lack of practice and consistency despite the hurdles or discouraging days that crop up along the way.

Don’t stop learning — always seek out personal growth

Never stop learning!  According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, about 80–95% of dieters gain back the weight they’ve lost. All too often when we discover the answer, solve a problem or when we reach our goal, we check the box and we’re done. Occasionally, hitting a milestone means we get complacent, and we stop being curious – this is NOT the answer! It’s important to consider how you can maintain a “growth mindset” and keep bettering yourself. If you’ve hit your weight loss goal, great! Overall health encapsulates so much more than just pounds – you can investigate other areas where you want to see improvement.

In my personal experience as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I often meditate on what I’ve done well and what needs work after each sparring session. I’d recommend doing the same with your health, taking inventory every week and celebrating yourself while reflecting on areas for improvement. Maybe you lost weight but didn’t drink enough water to stay hydrated and energized. Did you discover a new recipe, try a different type of vegetable? Maybe you could read about simple ways to start meditating or incorporate more movement. There’s a reason we refer to health as a journey – it evolves, and it challenges us both today and tomorrow.

Lean on the experts – coaches, trainers, and teachers

Shifting your mindset and viewing health as a way of life (a lifestyle) doesn’t have to be daunting or exhausting, but it is critical to long term success. Don’t just show up to coaching sessions: take advantage of the time with your coach and come prepared with your own reflections and questions. Like an athlete, your practice dictates how much you succeed, but your time with your coach can create additional opportunities to learn and improve and set a new bar for how success looks.

When I train, I look to find time the next day to listen to podcasts about my training challenges, or I’ll watch YouTube videos to improve my technique. The same can be done with health. If you don’t know where to start, simply type health or wellness in the search bar on your phone. There will be plenty of topics to choose from. Find one that interests you and develop a list of authors or sites that you trust and that provide helpful information. Ask your coach if you’re unsure about their credentials.

Commit to action with intention and small steps

Bruce Lee once said, “knowing is not enough, we must apply.” It’s easy enough to understand the benefits of walking, hydrating, and strength training; it’s now time to create an action plan, and start doing. When creating lofty goals for yourself, consider the 5-minute rule. I learned about the 5 minute rule from one of my favorite health journalists, Michael Easter. Easter is a staple in my weekly reading. In a nutshell, the 5-minute rule creates ACTION because 5 minutes of an activity that pushes you towards your goal is much better than zero minutes. For example, consider walking or exercising for just 5 minutes every day. Before you know it, 5 minutes will become 10 minutes which will soon turn into 30 minutes. Strive for consistency versus setting goals that are out of reach. To circle back to our first topic, that’s where the practice starts.

Trust yourself

Throughout your journey, you will encounter doubters and people that want to question and sabotage (intentionally or unintentionally) your methods. Family and friends will want you to partake in activities or social events and may tempt you with unhealthy foods. Just like an athlete, insecurity and a lack of confidence won’t result in winning the game. Have a game plan and stick to it – TRUST YOURSELF. Find balance, keep your sights set on your “why,” and enjoy the journey.

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