What does it mean to be intentional? Why is it important? To be intentional in life is to act with purpose and commitment every task and decision. A couple of months ago we talked about creating a plan to help you move forward with your goals. Well, that plan is useless if you don’t review periodically and implement a strategy for following through with it. Being intentional helps you take daily steps to acting on your plan and bring your goals to life.
My Weight Loss
Let’s take my weight loss goal from last summer. I decided that I was going to get healthy by eating right and exercising. I created a plan, which includes joining Weight Watchers and not canceling my gym membership. To honor my plan and meet my goal, I identify committed actions to do each day. A committed action refers to valued based steps/task that I agree to complete despite how I feel each day. It is a term used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The next step was recognizing the things that would hinder my success.
As you think about your goals and plan, what are the challenges you face? What’s preventing you from getting things done? My challenges included loving sweets, poor coordination, and low energy. Some days, the idea of preparing a meal, letting alone eating it, drains me. Most people believe that you gain weight because you eat a lot, when in fact the opposite is true. Because I struggle with eating regularly and get little exercise my metabolism is super slow. This means my body holds on to any fat I provide it because who knows when it will see energy again (food/nutrients). I was also dealing with a history of failing at weight loss, it seemed like I gained more weight each time and plateau after 4 weeks.
Understanding those things, I followed the steps to up my commitment and be intentional about losing weight over the summer.
- Made a plan and prepared to take action. I knew I needed a coach to help with both eating and working out, so I signed up for weekly coaching with WW and schedule appointments 3 weeks at a time. I took my coach’s advice and weighed in once a week. Focused first establishing healthier eating habits, then identify an exercise plan that worked for me with the trainer at my local gym.
- Established a routine for eating and working out that fit my daily schedule. I was purposeful in my meal choices and work out plans, fewer sweets, more exercise, and easy to prepare healthy meals. So I have set realistic fitness goals for each week, working my way up to the yoga by the fall (YAY ME!). Working out 5 days a week for 1 hour or more is still something I am working my way up too. I also acknowledged my physical limitations due to my health conditions, started with walking. This made it easier for me to commit to a plan and honor my promise to lose weight.
- Changed my mindset and self-talk. I experienced a few major shifts in my thoughts about exercise and weight loss several months prior to taking action and continued to be open to new experiences related to getting healthy. Then I looked for information about my challenges, why was I gaining weight instead of losing it, which turned out to be normal. I incorporated new information and changed the conversation about working out, no more “should”—instead I talked about benefits and how it helped with my long-term goals of improving my health conditions. Less pressure and guilty, but more motivation and action.
- Found accountability partners. I identified a few trustworthy people and gave them permission to challenge and push me to continue with my goals.
Benefits of being intentional
Get the important things done and everything else feels like a bonus. Following my plan and being intentional in my decisions and actions each day, meant that I lost 20lbs by the end of the summer, learned to eat healthier, increased my flexibility and experienced less stress. The bonus was that I discovered a lot about what I could do, grew to trust my body and had more compassion for myself in other areas of my life overall (yoga is an amazing gift that never stops giving).
Take control of your life, instead of letting it happen to you. It was a reminder that I could do anything I set my mind to, with a little faith and perseverance. I didn’t have to wait for doors to open or the training to notice that me struggling, I could make whatever adjustments my body required and work from there. I not only had more control over my time and body, but I felt so attuned to what I needed at the moment and how to access it. This applied to working out, eating and other life goals. Accomplishing a goal after 10 years of struggling, had me feeling pretty invincible and very capable.
More time doing what you love, not a moment wasted, even on bad days you get can still feel accomplished. Turns out that will you honor your plan and your schedule, there is plenty of time to do what you love to do as well.
If you are experiencing challenges with being consist or intentional, you might need to reexamine your goals and beliefs about achieving them. More on dealing with resistance next month.