The majority of my blog topics are decided on the day that I publish them. I decide on a topic, spend 1 – 4 hours writing it, and then post it on the same day. This week’s blog topic was going to be on yoga for athletes (appropriate, seeing as I am on my way to help lead a Maximum Performance Yoga Teacher Training), but earlier this morning I was inspired to write about something else. It’s something that I have previously touched on in other blogs, and have certainly made social media posts about, but this is the first time that I will explicitly say it. Getting the body that you want, having energy to do the things you love, and most importantly, feeling healthy and confident in the body that you have, is the result of a healthy lifestyle. Life. Style. The style in which you live your life. Not a few good workouts or a temporary diet program, but a style of life dedicated to health.
The reason I decided to write about having a healthy lifestyle comes from an experience that I had this morning while I was at the airport, waiting to board my flight to San Francisco to co-lead a Maximum Performance Yoga Teacher Training. In the past, I’ve always had some trepidation when doing yoga at airports. I travel a lot for what I do, and when I find myself at an airport waiting to board a flight I usually have two options: I can do work, or I can work on myself. If I choose to do the latter, I usually go somewhere secluded (a gate where nobody is sitting) and then casually stretch. I don’t raise my arms over my head, because people would clearly notice that I’m doing yoga, and then they would judge me and of course I would simply die right there and melt into a puddle. Today was different. I got to my gate, designated a few square feet for myself, tuned out all the noise and crap going on around me, and did my full-body morning yoga routine. Standing forward folds, planks, a standing side stretch, not a problem. At that point you may or may not be doing yoga. But as soon as I got to Warrior 1, I realized that it was now obvious that I was doing yoga. This was the bridge to cross. In the past, I would keep my arms down at my sides. This time, however, I felt different. I raised my arms over my head, engaged my core, and made myself as big and as confident as I could, pretty much declaring to the world that I was a yoga BAMF and I didn’t give a f*** if it bothered anyone. Before, I was afraid of getting judged: “Is that guy doing YOGA? You know what they say about guys who do yoga, right? Gross, that guy is getting all spiritual over there.” Instead, I thought differently. What people are actually think is probably more along the lines of this: “Man, I can’t even touch my toes and look at that guy! I wish I had the balls to work out in public. Damn it, why am I wearing a suit right now? And now he’s taking a pre-made breakfast out of his backpack?! I should’ve done that instead of ordering breakfast tacos.” I changed my thinking. I stopped thinking about being ridiculed, and I started thinking about my own commitment to a healthy lifestyle. I’ve reached the point where I can work out in public and not feel a tad embarrassed. At best, I’m an inspiration to others.
I finished my workout, sat down at a nearby chair, and then took out my scrambled eggs and peppers that I had prepared for myself earlier that morning. Yep. I actually prepared a hot meal to take through security and eat while at the gate. I planned all of it. I looked around at the other people there, drinking their morning coffee, waiting in line to order breakfast tacos, and really started thinking – being healthy really is a lifestyle. Think about it. In order for my morning to be as perfectly healthy as I wanted it to be, I had to plan it in advance. I had to wear clothes that I was comfortable to work out in. I needed to wake up early enough to make breakfast for myself. Probably the hardest obstacle to overcome was doing all of this despite what people at the airport would think. And what if the container had opened up in my bag and eggs and pepper strips had soiled my clothes? THAT would have sucked. Anyways, that’s the story that provided the impetus for this blog, and here are 7 mental frameworks that you can adopt to your own lives so you can live a healthy lifestyle.
7 Mental Frameworks Necessary for a Healthy Lifestyle
Being healthy doesn’t happen by accident. It requires planning. You need to plan your workout schedule, making considerations for your other obligations (work, school, family, etc) as you do so. You plan so you don’t have excuses to skip workouts. One specific tip I have for this is doing your workout in the mornings. By the time you’ve had breakfast and headed to work you have it done and won’t have to worry about other obligations (additional work meetings, evening social events, booty calls) that pop up throughout the day that overlap with your workout time. Missing one or two workouts per week translates to up to 10 missed workouts a month. Can you afford that? You also need to plan your meals, even if it means being the weirdo who brings eggs and peppers to the airport in a gladware container. Even eating one meal per day that doesn’t align with your eating habits can be the difference between losing weight and staying the same. (For guidelines on how to design an effective framework for eating habits, visit my blog on the subject: 6 Simple Steps to Improving Your Diet.
2. Indifference to certain societal expectations.
There are some expectations of society that can prevent you from living a healthy lifestyle. Some examples include: A stigma against working out in public. The expectation that you need to eat as much as you can in order to be polite. Peer pressure that you need to have a refilled drink every 20 minutes in order to participate in a night out. There are valid reasons for why these social norms exist, but they won’t fit into your new healthy lifestyle mental frameworks. You can work out in public as long as you aren’t disrupting other people or sweating up a storm and smelling like ass. Your host won’t be offended if you explain that the food is fantastic but that you’ve already had enough to eat. You don’t need to drink constantly to be social. (Seriously – tell your friends to f*** off if you don’t want another drink immediately. However, turning down a shot honoring a special occasion is just plain rude.) As my dad always said, find that healthy buzz and stay there. The point is to stop caring so much about what society or other people are thinking, and try to understand that it is more important to think positively about what you do to yourself. Your relationship with yourself is just as important as your relationship with others. After all, you hang out with you a lot.
3. Stop measuring healthy actions as a means to an end.
A lot of people forget about the manifestations that result from your attitude. This has a HUGE effect on results. If you dread your workout, do you think that it will be as effective as if you loved your workout? If you consistently look down at the food in front of you and are dissatisfied, do you think that your “diet” will last? Have you ever lost 5, 10, or even 20 pounds only to regain the weight because you stopped the dieting and exercise that got you there in the first place? These are rhetorical questions. The point is that the healthy actions can’t just be a finite amount of actions – they need to be healthy HABITS; approaches to life that facilitate a healthy body and mind. More than that, they need to be something you enjoy. They need to be something that you look forward to doing. If you really don’t like running, don’t run. If you don’t want to lift weights, don’t lift weights. There are thousands of forms of exercise out there, and Man Flow Yoga is just one of them. (It’s also f***ing awesome, by the way.) If you really don’t like exercise or eating healthily, it’s because you haven’t seen the light yet. You don’t understand how good your body and your mind will feel until you start doing it. And then you’ll crave it, just like you used to crave the old habits that brought you comfort (being a sloth, eating fast food, or having ice cream every night because “you’ve earned it”).
4. Nothing worth fighting for is easily earned.
Making the transition from less-than-desirable levels of healthy to healthy takes time and effort. It does not happen overnight. Shortcuts do not exist if you want the results to last. It takes months and maybe even years to achieve the results that you originally embarked on your healthy lifestyle for. Keep visualizing your success, and remember that you will get “there” if you continue to put in consistently outstanding (not good) effort. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you stay the course you will find that simply living a healthy lifestyle brings you the benefits that you originally associated with the aesthetic results of some dude in a magazine when you made the decision to eat more vegetables so you could look like him.
5. A desire to learn.
We get bored. We get bored with our careers, relationships, and the same-old. Your healthy lifestyle is no different. Eventually you may get to the point where you look at a certain vegetable and say, “F*** this s***, I am never eating this again.” You’ll finish up a specific workout and think to yourself, “Wow, that was a great workout… for 7 years. I think I’ll try something new.” Staying interested in health trends, new forms of fitness, and the science involved in living a healthy lifestyle are crucial to maintaining your commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. Just make sure that you don’t absorb everything you learn from something that your friend posed on Facebook. The claim that you can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true… is probably not true.
6. Set high standards for yourself.
I am a firm believer that in order to live a healthy lifestyle you need to set high standards for yourself. (To read my full blog on high standards and being the best version of yourself, click here.) Justifying inactivity or unhealthy habits based on the actions of others (and the standards that they place on themselves) or, more significantly, on perceived limitations that you place on yourself is a bulls*** copout. People want convenience and fast results, and when they realize that sometimes it isn’t as easy or as fast as they think, they get discouraged. You, however, are different. You do what most people are not willing to do. You give up certain privileges in favor of your personal health and longevity, and by doing so, you hold yourself to a different standard; a higher standard. The bottom line is that should you adhere to your high standards, you will see a positive impact.
7. Take responsibility for yourself.
Everything that I just mentioned is absolutely worthless without this final mental framework that you need to instill in your mind. You are responsible for yourself. Not your mom. Not your friends. Not your significant other. YOU. One of the best parts of my job is hearing about how other people have been inspired or motivated by me or something I wrote. They take responsibility for their actions, and they take PRIDE in their healthy lifestyle. One of the downers of my job is hearing people making excuses for themselves, and directing those excuses toward me or the Man Flow Yoga community. Let me ask you this. If I hold your hand, and tell you that it’s okay and that you can give up because you tried, will you feel better? No it most definitely will f***ing not. If you need more motivation to hold yourself accountable, join a group of like-minded people that are trying to accomplish the same goals that you are striving towards. Start by participating on the Man Flow Yoga Facebook page, which just hit 25,000 likes. (Holla!) We’re in the business of motivating and inspiring – hard. You can find inspiration all over the internet. Check out Arthur, who used yoga created by Diamond Dallas Paige (yeah, the wrestler) to go from extremely obese and walking with crutches to beast mode. Check out Larry, who was 800 pounds but has now trimmed down to 650 pounds and counting. You can find excuses wherever you want to, but there is ALWAYS a solution if you want it badly enough.
There you have it. 7 mental frameworks that you need to adapt in order to live a healthy lifestyle. A short recap: Plan your s*** out. Don’t base all of your actions on societal expectations. Stop thinking about healthy as a destination, and change it into the way that you live your life. Understand that the good stuff doesn’t come easy. Have curiosity for knowledge on being healthy. Set high standards for yourself. And for f***’s sake, take some responsibility for yourself. Now go off into the world and be a healthy badass. (Or Yoga BAMF, if you’re ready to set that exceptional standard for yourself.)
Man Flow Yoga is currently expanding its team. If you want to be a part of the Manbassador Program (the Man Flow Yoga Ambassador Program), click here to read about the details and then send in your completed responses to [email protected] Applications due Monday, November 10th.
To order my #1 selling* eBook, Yoga Basics for Men: An Intro to Man Flow Yoga, in PDF version, and learn 32 basic poses involved in yoga as it relates to your physical health, along with key physical and mental concepts to be safe and effective, sample workouts, and more, click here. To see it on Amazon in all of its 5-star review glory in Kindle version, click here.
Thanks for reading.
P.S – I know that I’m tough on you in some of these blogs, but we all need a good kick in the ass in the right direction sometimes. (Even me.)