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How to Get Your (Health) Groove Back

Maybe it comes in a heavily mirrored changing room as you wonder when you developed back fat [1]. Perhaps you notice that you can’t keep up with your kids on a bike ride around town anymore. You might see it when you have a hard time moving or carrying things you used to. Maybe you wake up one day and realize you never thought you’d experience so many aches, pains and stiffness [2] at such a young age. Perhaps you’ve just known for a long time that you don’t like how you feel anymore.

We get off track [3] for various reasons – illness, parenthood, divorce, death, job change, moving. In probably every case, we didn’t anticipate losing sight of our health, but upheaval [4] (good and bad) can often divert us in ways we don’t expect.

The question becomes, “What next?”

We certainly have the option of going back to sleep, so to speak, and then “waking up” to the fact again when some more dramatic detail shows itself. Alternatively, we can decide it’s time [5]….

Specifically, we can decide it’s time to start feeling good again [6], time to get our strength and energy back, time to like how we look again, time to not feel limited in everyday life activities, time to reclaim our physical and maybe emotional resilience [7]. It’s just time to get our groove back.

“Getting our groove back” – it’s a phrase that’s thrown around in lifestyle headlines, self-help columns and pep talks for anyone coming out of transition. From the angle of health, however, what does that process look like?

A few weeks ago, I took up the concept of inertia [8]. Certainly, I believe that concept figures into this picture, but I think there’s more than the physical stasis to contend with when we’re talking about, well, groove. To feel like we need to get back in the groove suggests two things: 1) that we’ve been out of it for a considerable while and 2) that something about us has shifted on a deeper level than daily activity schedules or diet.

While we could probably have a pretty entertaining conversation about what constitutes groove even if just for health alone, I’m going to venture that it’s caught up in not just our circumstances (what we’re not doing anymore) but our self-concept (how we feel a disconnect between our health values and our daily lives). The result of this incongruity over time can shift how we feel about ourselves. It can erode our health integrity [9] as well as the personal vision [10] we have for our lives. We realize we’re not living in alignment with our values or that we’re forgoing the health related benefits that matter to us. Getting back in the groove, in that sense, means reclaiming our self-identity [11] as well as vitality.

Are you looking to get back into the groove? Have you done so in the past – or are you in process? Let me offer some considerations – and invite everyone to add their experience, questions and perspective in the comment board.

Invest in your self-concept.

When you’ve taken an extended hiatus (however unintentional) from health investment [12], for most people it’s not enough to simply jump back into practical strategy. Yes, the action is where it’s at, but we’re for better or worse steering our minds as well as our bodies back into a new/renewed way of being.

In these cases, it’s not about returning to what was. It’s also not about emulating and doing what someone else is doing. More than just adopting a routine, getting back into the groove obliges us to move into a new relationship with our health [13]. That means being honest about how we see ourselves these days. What’s happened to us since the last time we were living well, and how have the stories we tell ourselves [14] changed in that time period? Do we have as much confidence in our self-discipline [15]? Are we circumscribing our sense of physical potential in different ways because we’re older than last time we were on the horse?

Be cognizant of – and prepared to work around – the possibility that you may have fundamentally changed.

Depending on how long we’ve been away from our health commitments, our lives might look a fair amount different. Beyond the self-concept piece, this fact may impact strategy and logistics. In other words, trying the same old habits you used years ago to get/stay healthy may not do it anymore. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just information. Be prepared to come up with a new bag of tricks and routines [16] to get you on track.

Do several small things rather than one big thing each day.

While everybody needs to decide what works for them, anytime you’re beginning or beginning again, I’d generally suggest keeping the new routine as doable as possible and front loading as many small wins [17] as you can.

By all means, if you’re a cold turkey [18], all or nothing person who can totally commit to big changes, go for it. If you’re in any way reticent (or just really busy), break it up into more practical chunks throughout the day.

Engage with people who are living the life you want.

I don’t just mean read a book, listen to a podcast [19] or watch someone at the gym (although these can be helpful, too). Surround yourself with support and modeling. It’s about learning, not comparison [20]. Seek out opportunities to talk to other people who are doing what you know you want – even if they feel ahead of you. They will likely value the chance to help you. Reach out in the virtual world as well by joining an online forum. I think I know one [21] that might be pretty awesome….

Pay tribute to the successes and have fun along the way.

It baffles me sometimes how people will put so much time and effort into long lists and explanations of goals and their respective steps [22] but not consider it worth their time to take pictures or otherwise record what happens after that. Are they afraid of jinxing their own outcomes? Do they not feel they deserve to celebrate anything until they hit some socially identifiable benchmark?

Put aside the goal if you find yourself obsessing, and just revel in enjoying the process [23]. Too often people focus so much on discipline that they forget to feel good about what they’re doing. Combine your commitment to exercise with something adventurous [24], and take pictures of each endeavor (e.g. album of the trails you hit). As you plan your next vacation, look for active pursuits you’ve always wanted to try. Take pictures of your Primal masterpieces to make your Facebook cadre marvel at your culinary genius. Relishing and celebrating your new choices will go a long way in owning the new direction you’re establishing for your future.

Embrace the mindset of self-actualization – and take time deciding how you want to live that right now.

Be present-oriented but also spend a certain amount of strategic time envisioning the long view. Resist feeling like you have to make everything happen today. The only thing you’re responsible for today is showing up [25] for the intentions you set for this 24-hour period.

That said, make the groove matter by asking what you want out of life in the coming years. What do you want to make of yourself – of your time, of your energy? Get back into the groove not by reinstating the past but by living your way into that future vision through the choices you make and adventures you pursue on a daily/short-term basis.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What are your thoughts and anecdotes about getting back in the groove? Have a great end to the week.

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