How many times have you started a healthier lifestyle – tried dieting and exercising just to find yourself back to where you started, or worse yet, in worse condition??
You’ve starved yourself, exercised until you cannot move then found yourself half way through a bag of chips to make you feel better, only to loath yourself for doing it.
You’ve gone to the gym religiously for two weeks and eaten nothing but salads to have only lost two pounds – or to your dismay, actually gained weight!! UGH!!!
This whole “healthy living” has to be easier! Why do some people make it look so easy while it’s so difficult for me? I have to tell you, you’re going about it all wrong. The first change has to got to start in your mind.
"This whole 'healthy living' has to be easier!"
Have you heard the phrase “What you think determines what you feel and what you feel determines what you do.”? As humans with emotions, we tend to let those emotions control us, instead of us controlling our emotions. That, coupled with mindless eating, is a recipe for disaster. There is much research that supports this. Psychologists and Psychotherapists agree that your thoughts control your behavior, but they pass through our human filter of emotions.
“Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you can’t control what you think then you can’t control what you do.”
~ Vikas Runwal
So, armed with the knowledge (because knowledge is power) that you can control your thoughts, which do control your feelings and subsequently your actions, you have the power to make positive changes in your life.
Now, do you start eating a healthy diet all the time, exercise an hour a day seven days a week and change your life overnight? Hmmm, let me think about that a minute – It could be done – occasionally someone gets life altering news or has a traumatic experience that jolts them into a complete 180 degree turn with their lifestyle.
There are also some extremists out there that are all or nothing and they can change everything overnight, but they often change overnight the other way also. To be honest, a complete overhaul all at once doesn’t usually work for anyone. If you ‘ve tried the all or nothing approach in the past and you find yourself back in that place of making unhealthy choices, keep reading.
You’ve likely heard a trainer or well-intentioned loved one say, “You didn’t get this way overnight, so you cannot expect to change it overnight.” While this may be true (it is), it is also discouraging.
Here’s where I get down to the nitty gritty. First of all, you should have a good support system in place – someone or a group of people who will be supportive on this journey to a healthier you.
Figure out who in your life is supportive and encouraging. Let them know about your decision to start this journey. If you cannot think of anyone, go ahead and hire a health coach. A good health coach will guide you through this process while being supportive and encouraging. Even if you do have a good support network, you may still want to hire a health coach to help guide you.
Once you’ve done that the next step should be to journal for a few days. This is a great way to not just guess what you’re doing, but actually document it. If you don’t really know where you are, how will you figure out the best path to get to where you want to go? You have to have a starting point.
So, journal for a few days; a few days during the week and both Saturday and Sunday typically to get a good baseline. Yes, it’s time consuming, but planning any trip is somewhat tedious on the front end but that makes the journey so much more enjoyable and productive.
Journal in 15-minute increments or so and what makes you tick during those moments. If you’re eating breakfast at 7:30 then again at 10:00, why are you eating twice? Are you hungry, angry, what emotion is driving you? How do you feel after? If you exercise, document that. Document why, how long, what type. Do you sit at a desk all day long? Do you snack while watching TV late at night? Journal it.
Now you have a better idea of what you’re doing and why. From here, you take one to three things you’d like to change and focus on them. One diet-oriented change, one exercise-oriented change and one mindful thing to change. What do I mean?
One diet-oriented thing might be that you’re not drinking enough water, so for the next few weeks you focus on that only, as your diet item you want to change. You may start by adding 8 oz. per day first thing in the morning. There are other possibilities and things to make this stick, but if I write it all, this will be a book and not an article.
An exercise-oriented change may be to walk five minutes after dinner, or if you’re already walking, it may be to do 10 squats every morning when you get up, or even start by stretching each morning. The point here is to make small sustainable changes that you can build from. Does this make sense? That snowball effect of one small change that rolls into another and another until you have a great big ball of successes that lead to a healthy lifestyle.
Another large part of this transformation is goal setting. Setting goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. This is another topic that could take a long time to cover, so I’ll try to keep it short.
There are product and process goals, long-term and short-term goals. For our purposes, we are going to focus on short-term, process goals. If you make a SMART, short-term, process goal, it might look like this: I’m going to walk in my neighborhood every night for five minutes after dinner for the next two weeks.
This is specific (walk in my neighborhood after dinner), measurable (five minutes), attainable (this should be specific to what you can attain), relevant (walking is exercise) and time-bound (for the next two weeks). When you reach that goal, you can add to it or do something different.
Another thing about setting goals is there should be a reward. Whether it’s a gold star on a chart or a new pair of socks for your two weeks of walking, again the reward should be specific to you.
Now let’s talk about one more thing when setting goals. There has got to be some flexibility. Life happens and just because you got an emergency call to help a friend and couldn’t walk one night doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s just one day. You put the past behind you, learn from it and move on.
Success is not doing everything right 100% of the time. Success is getting back up when you’ve fallen, dusting yourself off, learning from your mistakes, making the adjustment and marching on. People who do that become successful. You can be that person, but it starts in the mind. You’ve got to understand that your self-talk must be positive and encouraging and occasionally tough, but always compassionate.
If you would like more information, have questions or just know you’d like to hire a health coach, please feel free to CONTACT US and we can walk you through the process.