It’s been a while since my last post and I figure I better post something soon before I completely forget about it!  This post was inspired by new and fellow Beyond Diet member Sandra, who gave me the idea in a comment she recently made one of my previous posts.  She commented in my blog post “Overwhelmed,”: “I like what you said, it’s about choices, making changes, and a commitment to a healthier lifestyle. I will remember that, ‘the three C’s!'”  I thought to myself, brilliant!  What a great topic for a post.

I sat on it for a while and of course when that happens stuff starts rolling around in my head.  I didn’t really want to copy Sandra’s idea exactly, so I thought thing’s like “The ABC’s of Beyond Diet” and any number of acronyms.  In the end, I liked the simplicity of the idea and settled on adding just a couple more words coming up with the 5 C’s.  Enough words to help remind folks and perhaps motivate them, but not too many that you can’t remember any of them.

So here they are, the 5 C’s:

  • Commitment
  • Change
  • Choices
  • Challenge
  • Community
     

COMMITMENT

Clearly, any endeavor in our lives has to begin with commitment.  It doesn’t matter if it’s your job, your marriage, raising kids, a business, or a hobby or vocation.  You just can’t be successful in the long term without being committed.  What is interesting though is that we rarely ever think about eating and commitment in the same thought.  Eating is just something we have to do to survive OR eating for many is just a habit, ritual, or even a social or mental exercise (eating when we’re stressed, for example.)  The commitment part comes in when you either need, or you want to lead a more healthy life; lose weight, fend off disease or even cure a disease and eliminate toxic medications.

If you find yourself at a turning point in your health life, you must start by making a commitment to change.  Acknowledge the difficulties and challenges, but be determined to face them and overcome them.  I know it’s a cliche, but there isn’t anything one can’t do if they try hard – and committing to that effort WILL set you on the right path to reach your goals.

You are and you must make a commitment for a life change.  Committing to losing weight by Christmas or your child’s wedding is NOT a commitment.  It may be a goal, but you’re not making a commitment that will last a lifetime.

Lastly, remember this.  Commit to the future, don’t dwell on past.

CHANGE

Which segue’s right in to change.  I guess I could have lumped change in with commitment, but I think it’s important to focus on this, and for one reason.  If you don’t change – something, nothing will change.  There are plenty of quotes that could be used here, one of them goes something like this definition of insanity from Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ”

Here’s the good news.  Improving your health, your diet and your life doesn’t mean you have to change everything at once.  In fact, that’s probably a recipe for failure – although many have been successful making wholesale changes.  But change does not have to be everything or major.  You can make one small change, and then begin building on your success.  Maybe it’s giving up sugar in your coffee, or Diet Coke’s.  Ok, maybe those aren’t easy things, but these are changes that will have to be made sooner or later.

Let change be healthy and good; it’s not something to be feared.

CHOICES

Of all the things I’ve written about, or even think about in my own life, choice is at the heart my approach to eating and a healthy lifestyle.  I want to be clear and honest here though.  Just because I write this, doesn’t mean I make good choices all the time, I certainly don’t.  But what I do know is when I make those choices, I at least know the difference between good and bad choices.

I believe that the key to making good choices is knowledge.  (I wish knowledge was spelled with a “C,” cause it would be on my list.) The more we know about not only the foods we eat, but how they affect our body and how our body metabolizes them, the better choices we can make.

Choices also allow us to be flexible in our decisions.  What do I mean by that?  Well, I wrote an entire post about Choices you might want to read if you haven’t already.  In a nutshell, choice allows you to worry less about strict portions, menus or plans that can be frustrating if you don’t or can’t follow them exactly.  Think of the choices you used to make vs. the choices you’re making now.  Choosing between grass fed cheese and raw cheese can be frustrating for many.  Try framing the decision in terms of choices.  Are either of those cheeses a better “choice” than Velveeta or sliced, processed American Cheese?  Is grilled chicken, organic or not, a better choice than breaded chicken fingers from the freezer?  Is unsweetened iced tea with fresh lemon a better choice than soda?  The answer to all those questions is, yes, those are better choices.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You can choose to put on your sneakers and go for a walk.  You can choose to do any number of things that can and will change your life.  It IS all about the choices we make – it includes everything from the food we eat, the activities we do and the attitudes we bring with us everyday.

CHALLENGE

This is a new one for me; at least one that I haven’t thought of much, but it’s something I’ve heard often as it relates to exercise.  Trainers and those experienced and knowledgeable about exercise and all the obvious health benefits will all tell you to challenge yourself in your workouts.  In other words, if you go to the gym and do the same routine every time and don’t challenge yourself, and more specifically, challenge your muscles and your body, you will get to a point where the exercise routines will become less and less beneficial.

Competing with yourself is another way say it.  Here’s an example from my own experience.  Now, just to be clear and honest, I am NOT a fitness guru, I’m 30-40 lbs away from any hope of 6-pack abs (not a goal of mine btw,) and I have no desire to run a triathlon.  Anyway, I joined a gym earlier in 2012 and try to get there at least 3 days a week.  But I also have a few other activities I will do on off days when I’m not doing weights.  Those activities are road bike riding, home recumbent bike and also hiking.  I wanted to mention the hike because I try and challenge myself on this hike.  It’s a short hike, 2-mi round trip. But the second 1/4 mile is all up hill, a 500ft elevation gain.  It’s a killer hill and would kick anyone’s butt.  Two years ago and the very first time I did this little hike, it took me over 45 minutes.  I stopped at least 6 times to catch my breath.  Over the last two years as I’ve lost the weight, become healthier and in much better physical and cardio shape, I’ve been able to challenge myself.  I began timing my hikes and each time tried to go faster and faster.  I finally was able to walk up the entire hill without stopping and made the top in like 25 minutes.  I continued challenging myself to beat my previous record.  It’s actually been a few weeks now since my last hike, but that last hike I set my personal best of 18min, 29s from the parking lot to the top of the hill.  I’m now able to run/jog before the hill, and then do interval run/jogs of 30s, walking 2-3 min, then jogging again – repeat, going up the hill.  My next goal is to break 18min.  A little competition with myself keeps going.

Ok, so a little bit long on the example, but the idea is to challenge yourself.  Don’t limit those challenges to exercise either!  Never in my life could I eat a bell pepper and the thought of eating eggplant made me nauseous (I don’t know why though…)  Challenge yourself to try new and different foods.  Challenge yourself to become a better cook!  You will be surprised how much your taste buds improve once you stop eating all the processed foods.

Challenge yourself, your body, your mind – and challenge others around you.

COMMUNITY

Our own health and well being is actually a very personal thing.  Healthy eating and our diets aren’t things we do as a group; it’s not a team sport.  It’s more like golf, if I can draw an analogy.  Yes, there are some team aspects to golf, the Ryder or President’s Cup for example; match play and other things where you depend on someone else, but ultimately it’s about individual effort and dedication.  We’re the ones that spend all the time at the driving range and putting green practicing – we’re the only ones swinging the club.  We choose the club and what kind of shot to make depending on the situation.  So to complete the analogy, we’re the ones putting the food in our mouth, choosing what foods to buy and which ones to put on our plate.  We practice in the kitchen, at work and eating out with friends or at family gatherings.  We dedicate our craft to learning how our bodies work and what fuels them.

So yes, it is about individual choice and determination.  But there is a community out there, a “team we’re a part of.  It’s our families, our spouses, friends, co-workers and yes, even those total strangers who share common goals on an internet forum.   There is as much about these communities in terms of drawing knowledge, inspiration and motivation, as there is giving back to these communities.  Once one has reached a certainly level of confidence (ooh, another “C,”) in their eating lifestyle, you can begin giving back to that community; teaching (not preaching,) spreading the word, and inspiring others.  You can help yourself by helping others who are just starting out or struggling with making these changes to better their health.

Clearly, losing weight and beginning to lead a healthier eating lifestyle boils down to your own individual effort and the other 4 C’s…. but don’t forget to remember the community.  The community that you not only can draw motivation and inspiration from, but a community you can also contribute too.

Perhaps by remembering these 5 C’s, Commitment, Change, Choice, Challenge and Community, you can better improve your chances of reaching your goals and changing your life for the better.

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