Starting your successful wellness transformation: Self-Exploration

The WellNow Co Self Exploration

By Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition Health & Wellness Coach and Owner of The WellNow Co

Health and Wellness is a hot topic at the moment. Many of us are trying to improve our health in some way, looking for the wellness transformation that’s right for us. Whether it’s to have more energy, manage weight, improve our sleep or bring more balance into our work and home lives. But where and how do we start our journey to better health?

With so much advice being bombarded at us about the latest health trends, it can be confusing to know what is actually right for us. Eating kale and quinoa night and day is hardly inspiring or necessary for most of us! Starting your wellness transformation with self-exploration is a solid start to achieving your ultimate health goals.

HOLISTIC APPROACH

The first step, before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, is to take a step back and look at your life in a holistic way. This is what we call self-exploration and is fundamental to setting goals and achieving a successful outcome. 

Consider every aspect of your life from health, career, finances, relationships and social or fun time! Is there an area that stands out to you as needing some attention? If so, then this is where your focus should be initially. 

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SELF-AWARENESS

Very often I see clients who have a goal to lose weight but with a bit of questioning and digging, they are actually very stressed at work or not spending enough time doing what they love. Once these issues have been addressed, their lives are more in balance and weight becomes naturally easier to manage. This is a very effective self-awareness tool but just the beginning of the process, really.

VISUALISATION

Next is to create a vision of your ideal life. How would you like to be living so that you are really thriving in all aspects of your life, rather than just surviving? Give yourself some time to really think about this and etch that vision into your mind. Now look at what your life is currently like today compared to the vision you have just set. You might find you are closer than you think to your vision or there might be big strides to be made in order to start living your best life. Either way, there are bound to be things that you will need to change or improve to bring about a positive shift. 

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SMALL STEPS

Once you’ve identified the areas to focus on, you can start setting small and achievable goals that are going to help move you along the scale from where you are today to where you want to be – your wellness transformation. It might very well be to include more kale and quinoa into your diet but at least you know the reason you’re doing this…it’s to help you achieve a specific health goal for you.

HEALTH COACHING

This is just a flavour for some of the coaching tools and techniques I use when working with my health coaching clients and will hopefully help you to get some clarity on where to begin when considering your own health and wellness. It can be daunting working through this process alone and a little bit of guidance and support can make a huge difference when it comes to achieving success so if you would like to find out more about our online programmes or our one-to-one coaching services, get in touch today for a free discovery call with Suzanne.

Suzanne Leyden Health Coach Contact

Featured image credit: Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

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Planning: 3 Simple Ways to Positively Impact Your Health

3 Simple Ways to Positively Impact Your Health

By Suzanne Leyden

Planning doesn’t necessarily conjure up motivational whoops of joy, but it is a key component to success. If improving your health and wellbeing is something you are looking to succeed in then read on.

These 3 simple ways to positively impact your health are achievable and accessible for everyone through planning. A simple notebook as a journal can do the trick. You don’t need online tools, or spreadsheets, although some people find them useful and can act as an added motivator. These 3 simple points are practical and can really help set you up to succeed.

  1. Write It Down

Did you know that you are 42% more likely to succeed at something if you write it down? According to a goal-setting study led by Dr. Gail Matthews, Psychology Professor this was the result. Writing down goals helps you get clarity on what you want to achieve. It also allows you to explore ideas and themes that come to you, that might be a passing thought if you didn’t write it down. It is a really simple and effective tool for self-exploration.

Some people address their written goals twice a day, some monthly and others annually. Whatever your approach, the goals can start broad but they should be broken down into realistic and achievable steps on the path you carve out for your success. Applying S.M.A.R.T. criteria to you goals will get you setting the bullseye goals for you to succeed with. That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound.

For instance, Mary wants to get fit. She sets this as her goal. But how is she planning to do this? She’ll run. Ok. When? 3 times a week. Which days? And what times? Monday lunchtime is good, because she works from home that day and can shower after. Wednesday evening suits because her husband can put the kids to bed that night. And Saturday morning before breakfast works well because the kids sleep a little late. This now feels like a tangible and realistic plan.

  1. Create Clear Structure

So, now you have the main idea of what it is you want to achieve. The next thing you need is to figure out how you’re going to get from where you are now to where you want to be. For this, you need to apply a clear structure. Look at what essential steps need to be achieved in order to get you to where you want to be. Create a timeline for achieving these smaller steps. Some of the milestones may be done at the same time, whereas some may have to be done sequentially. Once you establish this clear structure it will act as a motivational tool in itself. You will see that it is achievable, how long it can take and now you just need to follow the steps to get there to stay on track.

Let’s go back to Mary and see how we can apply this. She has now been really clear about when she will go for her run. But what about a bigger picture. What’s the aim of her goal? She says she wants more energy. She also wants to feel stronger. This is great. So initially she will run short distances. She has decided that she will run for 30 minutes each time, regardless of distance. She knows this is realistic, and that she ultimately wants to comfortably run 5km in 30 minutes.

  1. Make It Measurable

By creating this clear structure you have made your path to success measurable. As you succeed with the small steps you can tick them off as you go. This is a great way to stay motivated, particularly if you are managing big changes or long periods of time. You can decide to celebrate at certain milestones, or when you reach your endpoint. You are in the driving seat and make the choices to stay on the path to your success. By making it measurable you can track your progress and stay motivated until the end.

Again, hi Mary! It might take Mary 10 weeks to run 5km in 30 minutes. So what are the milestones she can reach in the meantime to keep her motivated for all that time? One could be a distance she would like to cover by the end of each week. 2km the first week and so on. As she is starting out she may not be able to run continuously for 30 minutes. It will be a combination of walking and running or jogging. Another milestone could be to be able to jog continuously for 30 minutes without walking. This should overlap one of the weeks with her distance milestone. Then she just needs to focus on her distance as the measurable piece.

So Mary reaches her goal of getting fit by running 5km in 30 minutes. Depending on how well Mary gets on with her plan, she may decide she is happy that she’s achieved her goal and this becomes her routine for years. Equally, she might decide that she would like to set herself some more goals. She wants to enter 5km races in her area to keep her motivated. She may also want to start extending the distance to 10km and increase the time she runs for.

At the outset of Mary’s planning she could not have foreseen how she might do with achieving her fitness goal. It’s important to remember that there are so many moving elements to all goals we set, that we need to allow ourselves the flexibility to adapt and change to suit our current set of circumstances.

A really important aspect of setting goals and knowing we’ve achieved them is that ability to stop doing them for a period of time – say a holiday – but have the confidence we can return to doing them with ease after the break from them.

Create Your Own Plan

You can create your own plan as you can see from above. Remember to celebrate your wins. Decide what you will do to mark it when you’re at the planning stage so you have another motivator to get you across the line. It could be a spa pamper, or a meal with friends or something specifically related to what you are doing – Mary might choose some fancy new running shorts!

Taking the time to do all this planning properly from the outset is key to having the best results. So, don’t rush this. Do take advantage of your enthusiasm, but stay realistic. You could also choose to have a friend as your ‘accountability buddy’ which helps particularly well in the early days of forming new behaviour patterns. Or you might choose to work with a health coach to really get you to where you want to be. I’d love to hear what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them. Drop me a line at suzanne@thewellnowco.com and let me know.

Feature Photo by S Migaj on Unsplash

Suzanne Leyden Health Coach Contact

5 Ways To Stay Motivated and Succeed with your Goals

By Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Coach and owner of The WellNow Co.

Establishing your goals is key to success, but how do we stay motivated and succeed to achieve these goals? This is such a common pain area for people trying to make changes in their life, regardless of the area they are working on – health, nutrition, lifestyle, career, fitness.  Any gym can attest to that with the sign-up levels in January being through the roof, and by June the attendance rates dropping out.  So, assuming the goals are set, let’s explore motivation in a little more detail. These 5 ways to stay motivated and succeed with your goals will help you to stay on track and achieve whatever you want to.

1. Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

There are two key types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic.  Extrinsic is the external factors that feed into motivation – for instance, pay for your job, a promotion, the gold medal at the end of the race, the meal at the end of cooking…. you get the idea! These are all good for motivation and really help with achieving goals, but can often fall short of setting you up for 100% success.  Intrinsic motivation on the other hand are all the internal factors that motivate us.  We need to look inward to establish what these are.  You must really love and get joy from your job to be successful at carrying it out, you must want to run to get up at 6am and hit the road – new trainers and a 10k run in three weeks may not be enough.  And what happens after the 10k run, do you need to find another race?  Are you enjoying running?  Why are you running?  Is it for long term health benefits?  Is it for increased energy? Is it for the aesthetic benefits it brings? Is it a combination of all of these?  Is it a part of a bigger picture?  Only you can answer these questions and everyone will answer them differently.

2. Establishing what works for you

What we are attempting to do is set our goals and stick to them.  To begin with we can examine a few elements, which you may already know the answer to.  What motivates you now?  Is there something that you previously thought was a difficult thing to achieve but you now do it without thinking and with success?  What has worked for you in the past?  Have you achieved something that you had to commit to for a long period of time?  What common elements are there with these things?  What are your strengths that stand out when it comes to completing difficult challenges?  Look at your positive attributes that you can use to achieve things and recognise them, and congratulate yourself on them.

3. Your Vision

Setting a vision is a really effective tool for motivation and goal setting.  This can be part of your self-exploration at the goal setting stage and is such a powerful tool when looking to stay motivated. We want to know what we are working towards, so spending time outdoors with your friends and family might be a vision you come up with for yourself.  When you are struggling to peel yourself off the couch to go for a walk or run you can use this vision to help motivate you to that vision of living your best life.

4. Your Goals

Your goals in themselves will act as motivators.  And if set out correctly and broken down into SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound) action steps will help you stay motivated.  Using your vision and other coaching tools can help you to establish what these goals might be.  For instance, a lot of people feel they want to lose weight.  This very often is not their actual goal when they do some self-exploration.  They may find that they need more balance in their life, they need more fun and leisure and connection.  So, by arranging active, fun things to do with friends may make them happier in themselves and take the focus off weight being an issue.  They may inadvertently get in better shape by setting these positive goals for themselves too.

5. Support & Accountability

We are all ultimately the only person that we are accountable to.  However, introducing change in our lives can be challenging when we are already busy working and living.  This is when getting the support of those people close to us can really make the difference – partner, family, friends or colleagues are ideal candidates.  You can share elements or all of what you are setting out to achieve and explain how they can help you, “if I say I’m going for a run every Tuesday and Thursday evening, don’t let me sit watching TV eating biscuits, encourage me to go out if I’m struggling”.  Once they have an idea of how they can be useful and why, they will generally really buy into your plan and help and encourage you to succeed and stay on track.

Success breeds success

Once you start succeeding in the smaller goals then this will motivate you in itself.  So, go for the low hanging fruit in terms of what you can achieve.  This is all about feeling positive and staying positive.  Keep the goals realistic and watch yourself flourish.

As health coaches, these are things we work on with individuals and groups to really help them succeed with the goals that they want to achieve for themselves.  There are many tools and techniques that work well to pull this together for the individual to live their best life.

Suzanne Leyden Health Coach Contact

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7-Steps to Success: Goal Setting

The WellNow Co Goal Setting

By Suzanne Leyden, Nutrition Health & Wellness Coach and Owner of The WellNow Co

New Year’s resolutions – you either love them or hate them. Either way, 80% of of people fail to stick with their planned changes. But it doesn’t have to be the case if you approach the changes you want to make in a smart way. With these 7-steps to success, goal setting can really help to set you up for creating the change you want and experiencing the wellness transformation you are looking for. In fact it’s a perfect example of proper self-care.

1. EXPLORE

Self-exploration is fundamental to setting goals and achieving a successful outcome. Consider every aspect of your life from health, career, finances, relationships and social or fun time! Is there an area that stands out to you as needing some attention? If so, then this is where your focus should be initially. 

2. PERSONALISE

It’s also important to be true to yourself when setting goals and make sure that whatever you are setting out to do is personal to you and is in line with your values. Figuring out your ‘Why?’ will help you with always working with your purpose and core values at the heart of it. 

Warning: Don’t look to social media and set goals you think you should be doing, do what you want to be doing for you.

3. VISUALISE

How would you like to be living so that you are really thriving in all aspects of your life, rather than just surviving? Take time to really think about this and etch that vision into your mind. Now look at what your life is currently like today compared to the vision you have just set. Look at where you want to get to and what you might need to change in order to get there.

4. FOCUS

Once you’ve identified the areas to focus on, you can start setting small, achievable goals that are going to help move you from where you are today to where you want to be. It’s a case of taking brand areas of focus and chunking them down to attainable changes.

5. READINESS FOR CHANGE

Observing your readiness for change in any of the focus areas, and also the smaller, more specific changes, is key to success. Take the low hanging fruit, the easy wins. This will set you up for success. And we know success breeds success. There’s no point in starting with the most challenging change. Once you have a few wins under your belt, your confidence will be up and you will find more change possible.

6. S.M.A.R.T

How many people decide on January 1st that they are ‘going to get fit this year!’? This is a well-intended goal for many people but it’s too broad and without structure, making it easy to fob off or push out to ‘next week’. So if we took the goal of ‘getting fit this year’ and put it through the S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound) test it might change to something like ‘I’m going to run 5km every Monday and Thursday evening and sign up to a 10km race in June this year.’

7. SUPPORT & ACCOUNTABILITY

Making any change is hard, even if you know it’s leading to a positive outcome. Going for a run every Monday and Thursday evening can be very difficult in the winter months, after a long day at work, refereeing kids at bath time and Netflix calling, but if you have a friend to run with or a partner encouraging you to go, you’re much more likely to succeed. It might be that you find an accountability buddy, or group, it may depend on what the task at hand is. But we know for sure, that together is better.

Everyone’s individuality should be catered for. Making changes right now may not be right for you. Although, one small change now that brings you closer to your overall goal is a great start. Just remember that one step at a time is all you need.

Suzanne Leyden Health Coach Contact

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