A Mindset for Maintenance: 7 Pillars for Sustaining Wellness

Do you really HAVE to?

1. Get yo mind right, fool!

Go ahead and think that you can accomplish anything worthwhile in this world, especially when it comes to conquering your health and wellness, without having the right meaning behind your endeavors. Your mindset is everything. Disagree? (Walks down stage stairs to hand the microphone up over to you in the crowd….) Go on and tell the rest of us what it is, exactly, that controls the stimulus sent to your arm muscles that can’t seem to stop shoveling baked goodies into your mouth. We’re all ears.

Get yo mind right, fool!

But seriously, if one has any hope of succeeding in the gridiron match between your health and the mediocrity of the rest of the world, you better have the adequate mental power to overcome the pull. Having the right frame of mind is what conjures up your cool, hipster spin on the infamous “no thank you, I am on a diet” reply to the shiny red, milkshake-sunken straw staring you right in the teeth. Offer someone a sip of that chocolatey, frothy goodness first thing in the morning and then stress the hell out of them all day before inching that dairy beaut back to their lips after 8 pm. Watch what time of the day they tend to strike the straw more often. 

Like an angry cobra.  

But why?!! 

Because after the sun sets, your mental gas tank is blinking like your college Honda Civic used to after "penny pitcher” night. 

Be conscious. Stay diligent. Especially when it counts.

2. Stop feeling so guilty. 

Want to save those pennies back up? Go ahead and sit at the Ambassador Caffery/I-10 exit ramp and hold a sign while making the facial expressions that most of you have the morning following a binged-out, Saturday night "chips and dip 100m freestyle". Newsflash: “YOU’RE MAINTAINING!!!” It is okay to splurge a bit on the weekend. I know what you are thinking, "Dude, did T just say that I can have chips and dip?" Almost, just make sure that kind of behavior is truly part of your 20% and not your 80% (boy I can see the faces through the screen)…

Stop feeling so guilty

The point is, feeling guilty gets you nowhere. You should be making wise choices and owning every “bite" of them if they fall within your 20% refeeding. And if you happen to fall victim to any unplanned delicacies along the way, oh well. That was yesterday. Today is a new day. You know what must be done to get your body back to efficiently humming along. But you know what doesn’t recalibrate your metabolism, that terrible melancholy look on your face. Like my dad used to tell us, “Pick up ya lip before you trip on it!”.

3. Learn YOUR body.

What a novel concept, eh? To learn those things that help or hinder our own progress? Nobel Prize worthy, indeed…. But selfish? Hmmm, perhaps…

Learn YOUR body.

Of course, it’s SELFISH! That’s what your health is all about. YOU! The beauty of it all is that you don’t have to play to everyone else’s preferences or metabolism. You can get away with eating 2 cheat meals per week? Then go for it! 

“But T, my poor group of friends seem to gain 18 lbs after drinking 2 bottles of wine and eating the entire cheesecake sampler. And they chastise me for indulging without gaining an ounce.” 

Go on…. T, sees no problem here… besides your choice of friends, that is. (more on that later) The point is you have to embrace the capabilities and shortfalls of your own body. Who cares if someone else can get away with eating or drinking something that you can’t? If your goal is to fit in and indulge, then make that choice. If you truly want to grow spiritually and physically, then step one would be to let other’s opinions of your “result-backed” choices roll off ya shoulder. You’re better than that.

4. Step back and view the big picture (health in general and not one meal at a time)

This is a big one that relates to the first two points. If you constantly allow each meal to make or break your spirit, then that is the equivalent of allowing Facebook or the evening news to depict your mood and daily outlook. (Note: if that is you, go ahead and gently place your finger on the Facebook app icon; wait for it to shimmy, then press the floating “x” in the upper right-hand corner. I just removed 95% of the BS from your life… You’re Welcome!

health in general and not one meal at a time

Health has so much more involved with it than one single meal. How you sleep, your job, your stress, your exercise, who you do life with, your spirituality, all have a say in your risk of stroke and heart attack. Quit focusing on eating hamburgers with “half of the bun” and creaming your coffee with “fat-free soy,” and start looking at the entire spectrum of your health. You’ll actually be much better off, stress-wise, for doing so.

5. Define YOUR success.

So, we touched on why only worrying about yourself is what matters, but we haven’t embraced what exactly it is we are worrying about. Simply put: worry about whatever it is that is important to you. What do YOU feel “Successful Health” should look like? Better inflammatory markers? Smaller dress size? Heavier bench press? All these are great metrics. And the best part: you get to determine that.Yet, I am inclined to forewarn, if you expect everyone to agree or be on board with your health goals, your chance of failing just skyrocketed. The world doesn’t want you to succeed. Why not? Because that means they will have to work twice as hard to catch up with you. And in case you haven’t picked your head up and looked around in the other cubicles lately, people aren’t exactly gnawing off their legs in order to break free from the monotony of their lives. 

Look, this isn’t intended to motivate you. Like Jamie Holmes would say, “Just a gentle reminder….”. Wake Up! Set the goals that you want and are confident that you can achieve. Get uncomfortable! Attain them. Then what?… Next slide, please!

6. Embrace the YOU Evolution.

Join the Uprising!!! (Just kidding) Evolution, not Revolution. Put ya pitchforks and torches away, ya rebels. You’ll have plenty of fighting, ahead.

After achieving such great health feats, it’s nothing but smooth sailing from here on out, right? Wrong! There will always be roadblocks that lie ahead. But the beauty is that if you are a learner, you are equipping yourself for the constant battle. Know that your body will adapt. It will evolve to meet you where you are. That’s a great thing. But it also means that you will have to keep throwing it curveballs to keep it on its toes to continue to make progress and keep it on its toes. What a great opportunity to try new things! 

Are you a big meat head that thinks he’s too good for yoga? Please, I implore you to allow Greenie McTiedye, over here, to humble you to your steroid induced, arthritic knees. 

What’s that? Your Ironman M-Dot tattoo disqualifies you from lifting a dumbbell? Your cardiovascular markers and sex hormones say otherwise. 

The point is, that if you truly want to progress along your health timeline, stop cutting yourself so short. You’ve probably achieved great things in your wellness career, and that’s great. But unless you lean in and accept the change and challenges ahead as your body and mind evolve, you may end up a bit broken and confused.

More doesn’t equate to better. But “different”…? Well, trying something just might!

7. Choose your Kitchen Cabinet Wisely

Kitchen cabinet?! "Lord, T is about to meet us back at square one, making us clear out the Girl Scout cookies and Ritz crackers." Not quite...

Malcolm Brignac, a highly influential mentor of mine, introduced me to the concept of having a "Kitchen Cabinet." Playing off the description of the group of senior appointed officers seated under the President, your Kitchen Cabinet should consist of members, friends or family, that keep you grounded and on target to achieve those things that you have set out to achieve. That can mean from a health and wellness perspective, or just for life in general. These are the people that honestly don't care if you get upset with them when they say the things that you need to hear. Caring has more to do with not letting someone default themselves as opposed to the warm embrace that your cubicle buddy would prefer when they fail to meet the agreed-upon deadline. 

Get lazy around your cabinet members, and prepare yourself to embrace their loving verbal abuse. 

Grab a chip from the basket, and as soon as the distal corner of the greasy crisp touches the warm salsa, you look up and there's your stern, articulate cabinet member....

Choose your Kitchen Cabinet Wisely

That's right; they care that much.

The point is, the majority of the time, you will have to bear your own cross. But every now and then, we all need some help and foundational support. Choose them wisely, though. These are the people that will hold you to a higher standard than you hold yourself. They should be treating you how you "ought" to be.

 “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build & nobody wants to do maintenance.” - Kurt Vonnegut

Now, go on, and flawlessly maintain!

Choose your Kitchen Cabinet Wisely