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> Back to Self-Care Excerpts List

Self-Care Excerpt from Don't Weight

Another Key to Success: Dynamic Flexibility

Let's say you have really decided to change your sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. You have your plan. You are going to walk a mile every morning. Or you are going to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Yes, you have your plan. However, plans like the ones mentioned here don't leave much "wiggle room". One mistake, one off day, and you have failed.

If your plan is static and rigid,
you are very likely to end up feeling like a failure.

Life happens. Unforeseen circumstances pop up. When you make plans that have room for change, then you have room to make choices that work for you and your life. Your plans for improving your healthy lifestyle (or any other plans) must be able to fit into your life. Plans must be able to change. I call this dynamic flexibility (meaning to change and to bend.)

Plans with dynamic flexibility are
the most likely to lead you to success.

Let's look at the first example mentioned above and see how we might construct a goal with dynamic flexibility. The original rigid goal was that you planed to walk a mile every morning. When you implemented this goal, it might have unfolded like this: You got up and walked briskly for the entire mile on the first morning. You got sore muscles and had a slight limp the next day. If you were to stick to your static and rigid goal, you would have to force yourself to walk the entire mile on day two. You may have "walked off" the soreness as your muscles warm and you may have been fine. OR, you may have been developing an overuse injury. That is the physical side of the situation. What about your feelings and your attitude? Pushing yourself regardless of how you feel may cause you to hate walking. Hating walking would be the surest way to stop walking. Pushing yourself toward a goal that does not work for your body or your life leads to trouble.

If you were to design your walking goal with dynamic flexibility, it might look like this:

  • I plan to walk three to five days this week.
  • Today I will look at my schedule and decide what time of day would be best to walk tomorrow, or if I need a day off.
  • Each time I walk, I will tune in to how I feel and choose a speed that varies between comfortable and challenging.
  • If I did not walk yesterday, I will walk today.

This plan has room for you to live your life and you still have structure. You maintain your commitment to your walking goals.

You are fitting the plan into your life,
not trying to force your life into a rigid plan.

This goal does have structure. It also changes and bends as needed. This is an example of a dynamically flexible goal.

Let's try another example. Committing to eat five fruits and vegetables every day is a solid goal. It may also be a rigid goal because it does not have much flexibility in it. In order to succeed at this goal you would have to put substantial time and focus on eating and planning. You may be able to focus on eating fruits and vegetables some days. But as soon as you had a day when you were too busy to cook, or didn't have food in the house, or just plain did not like to eat fruits and vegetables, you would have failed at your goal. Often, feeling like a failure causes people to give up on a particular goal.

How would your healthy eating goal look if you were to change it to a goal with dynamic flexibility?

  • I will buy more fruits and vegetables when shopping.
  • I will order more salads, vegetables as side dishes, and fruit for desert, when I am eating out.
  • I will try new ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Each week I will select a meal and experiment with ways to enjoy more fruits or vegetables at that meal.

When you work toward these goals, you will be eating more fruits and vegetables. You will succeed at your healthy eating goal. Depending on your present lifestyle, you will probably work your way up to five a day within a few weeks or months. So what if the change is gradual! Gradual changes are so comfortable that you will be more likely to sustain the new behaviors. During all this time, you ARE succeeding at working toward your goals. You simply adjust your goals and continue to work on them. You continue to succeed.

When your life gets hectic,

you do not have to abandon these goals that change and bend with your needs.

Choosing goals with dynamic flexibility

sets you up for success.

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By Kelly Bliss M.Ed., A.C.E. author of Don’t Weight, Eat Healthy & Get Moving NOW!
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