This time of year, you will see a huge upswing in the amount of interest in fitness, nutrition, and health related content. That’s cool, because people want to help you lose weight, get strong, and crush it this year. I think that’s awesome.
However, there is another side to the coin. With all of this content coming out, sometimes it comes off very black and white, meaning that if you do one thing, you aren’t allowed to do another. I think that’s BS. There’s aren’t any rules to this stuff. Maybe the one rule is, if it hurts, you probably should not do it. Half the fun is experimenting and learning what works best for yourself.
I just finished a fantastic book called “Drive,” by Daniel H. Pink. In it, he argues the need for a state of ‘flow” that allows us to lose ourselves in what we do. Whether in business, play, or exercise, this concept is valid on many levels. It keeps our minds engaged and allows us to keep what we enjoy, part of how we live. That is a crucial component of exercising and nutritional guidelines, and the same reason I tell people to:
Avoid doing things they hate.
Experiment with new activities of interest.
Keep doing stuff you love.
The state of flow is one in which you are able to tune out external influence and focus solely on the task at hand. It allows you to be completely invested in a rewarding, enjoyable experience for yourself. It is also something that is elusive, yet you know it when you’re in it.
Sometimes I get into a flow state when I’m writing, exercising, or coaching. Those are where I find myself in my flow state the most. When do you find yourself in your own?
This is important because of the natural way we are wired. It helps you create drive for yourself in a way that comes easy, and that helps relax us. Forcing other tasks and other routines on yourself that you dislike will only lead to stress, low ambition, and complacency.
As the title indicates, there is a “right way” to attack your health goals. The answer to that is solely up to you. There are will be internet guru’s and other people who will try and help you like me, but at the end of the day you have to do what feels good to you. We as fitness professionals can guide you to make solid nutritional decisions, teach you how to lift weights, and give you the accountability you may need to get to the gym. But, all of that will be hard to replicate on your own if you don’t truly tap into what makes you tick.
With that said, here are some key ways you can find your own state of flow on a daily basis.
Every now and again, when you feel overwhelmed, take a long breath and exhale slowly. It will recenter you and allow you to relax. So much of what we do is fast (I’m the slowest human ever), demanding, and stressful. Just take a second and get it together when you feel like you need to.
Put the phone away.
Seriously. I’m victim of this. We all are at some point. It’s very hard to be focused on something if you are constantly checking stuff on your device all the time. A bad habit I got into was allowing my phone to be part of my workouts. I used to need it to read my training program, but then I would find myself checking social accounts, distracted, and ultimately not getting in a good session. Obviously, I try to avoid that now and am very conscious of it.
In this instance, try to refrain from having your phone out when your attention is required. You will be more productive and ultimately get more out of whatever you’re doing.
Again, to find flow you need to set the groundwork for it. That starts with solid sleep, to make sure your brain recovers each day. It has to process information at an almost unrealistic level, and sleep is where you are able to shake the etch-a-sketch. So, put the phone away before bed, get a night time routine, and avoid alcohol a couple hours before bed.
This is also something you’ll need to explore a bit. Everyone has different triggers that don’t allow good sleep, so be mindful of ones for yourself. The general recommendation is 7-8 hours of restful sleep, but again, some people need more and some people need less. It just depends on your current situation.
Schedule in mandatory “You” time.
Whatever it is you like to do, you should do that. Daily. I think this is vital to finding clarity and reaching for your goals. Whether that is meditation, or lifting, or running, the more you create opportunity for flow the more you will be able to find it.
I think it sucks when I can’t get my workout in. But that’s my fault. I always look at my calendar and make sure I have a block of time to get it in, even if it’s a 15 minute express. Sometimes life gets in the way of your intentions for the day, but that is the nature of time. There only is 24 hours in the day, and sometimes it doesn’t happen. But, scheduling and creating routine can help get you there.
Enjoy small moments.
The other day I was walking around Portsmouth, it was late at night. Cold and harsh. I was headed toward a friend’s house going past Prescott Park and noticed the moon hovering above me. Bright, glowing, and shining through some clouds. It was a moment.
I took a second. I stopped and just looked. To be present. Shit, it was beautiful.
I live for moments like that. When you find yourself there, take a second look. Embrace it. It will connect you to the world around you and bring your mind back to center.
The right way to build growth for yourself is on your own terms, with your own goals, and your own inspirations. There will always be distractions and people telling you how you should do things, but listen to your intuition and ignore them if you have to. That’s where flow comes into play. Do the things that make you happy, and you’ll be set.