My top three tips to make Healthy change easy…
Happy New year and welcome to the age of shattered resolutions…
Aaaahhhh, January. In December you offered so much promise of better things. We would eat better, take better care of ourselves and make time for the things we love; at least that’s what we were telling ourselves in the never-never land that occurs between Christmas day and New Years day.
And so now we find ourselves back in reality, our new year’s resolutions shot to pieces, and just trying to get back into some kind of routine so we can face the trials and tribulations of the daily grind. Our hope of a “new year and new me” have been washed away at the beach, a burger in one hand and a beer in the other, while we told ourselves “I’ll get back on the wagon next week”.
Next week has been and gone. We told ourselves that we would revisit the “new me” thing after we went back to work and then decided to push it out until the kids went back to school. Oh, hang on, then there was Australia Day celebrations; and you decided to hold off for just a bit longer…
STOP! WAIT A MINUTE!
You can’t keep putting it off, and if you keep going like this that’s exactly what will happen. Before you know it it’ll be March and you will be too stressed out to think of doing anything other than surviving! Fess up - you know how this pattern goes. You’ve been here before.
Let’s get real. There is never going to be the perfect time to take stock and make drastic changes to your lifestyle in the name of “a new you”. Why, because what on earth does a “new you” even mean? And drastic changes are too much for a mind and body to cope with sustainably.
Resolutions are a firm decision to do or not to do something but in order to bring them to life, you need more than a loose promise made to yourself under the influence of something sparkly that makes you tingle inside (or is that just me?). Anyway, I digress, let’s have a look at my top 3 tips for making positive change easy, achievable and sustainable. Not just for January, for any time of the year.
Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal.
START WITH WHY
Simon Sinek does this great Ted-talk about starting with the “why” and this applies as much in nutrition and lifestyle coaching as it does in building business strategies. Finding your why helps to motivate, inspire and drive you toward your goal. It helps you to overcome your obstacles and keep pushing ahead even when it would be easier to stop dead in your tracks. Starting with why drives your behaviour and helps others around you understand what you are trying to achieve (and they are more inclined to support you).
You see, if you set your goals around giving something up, it plays tricks with your brain. You think about what you are losing and even if that’s not serving you and unhealthy, it may be comfortable and easy. No one wants to give up comfortable and easy! Am I right?
But if you set your goals around something you aspire to be or do and understand what you will gain from reaching that goal, it will keep you motivated as you move toward pleasure verses away from pain.
So ask yourself these questions:
Why do I want to [insert your want here e.g. lose weight, get buff, give up smoking, get off my medication]?
What will I gain if I achieve this goal?
What will I be able to do that I can do now?
How will I feel/look/sound?
Who else can/will benefit when my health improves?
Visualise what your day’s, week’s, years will look like. Will you have more energy, sleep better, laugh more, stress less or weigh less. Will it be easier to buy clothes, play with the kids, or smash your PB (that’s personal best for the uninitiated).
One of the reasons that new year resolutions fail is because they aren’t specific, measurable, actionable, realistic or time-based. What you need to do is to get planning.
Once you are clear about your why then you can start to look a the “how” and the “what” of change.
Who else needs to be involve or can you use to support you? A friend, family members, a coach, a doctor, or a fun-loving-been-there-done-that-nutritionist (that would be me).
What exactly is it you are trying to achieve?
When do you want to achieve it by?
What actions will you need to take to get there?
What are the obstacles that could get in your way and how can you mitigate them?
How are you going to measure progress?
Assess that your plans are achieveable and be realistic about how much time, effort and cost may be involved.
Now use the answers to write a positive statement that clearly defines what you want to achieve and by when so that you can [insert your why and what will be different when you get there].
When coaching clients I work through a lot of questions and considerations before setting an agreed plan in place but the last thing I ask them before we finish a consult is “what is your first next step?”. It may seem like a strange question but often people will know their why and have put their smart goals together but they don’t know what to do first.
Here’s the trick. It often doesn’t matter what you do first so long as you start to do something, anything. What matters is that you start to get momentum and momentum comes from taking little steps that lead to bigger steps that lead to giant steps for mankind (oh wait - I’ve gotten a bit carried away there - but you know what I mean, right?).
Let me give you an example. I had a client, we’ll call her Kendra. She wanted to get fit and lose some weight. She decided that she was going to start running in the mornings before work. Kendra had set the goal of running 4 - 5 days out of 7 each week. We agreed that she would start slowly and that in the first week she would try to get out at least twice. We met up a week later and Kendra was a bit embarrassed because she hadn’t managed to (in her words) “drag her sorry arse out of bed” even once.
When the alarm went off in the morning Kendra couldn’t wrap her brain around going for a run so I broke it down for her into smaller manageable steps. We agreed that for the next week, her goal was to put her feet on the ground when the alarm went off. If she managed that the next step was just to put her gear on. She was to aim to do that for 2 - 3 out of 7 days of the week. That’s right. All she had to do was sit up when the alarm went off. We had a strategy of making sure her running gear and shoes were ready at the foot of her bed, just in case she decided to go for the run, but the goal was to put her feet on the floor and maybe put her gear on but the run was optional. Here’s what happened.
Day one, Kendra’s alarm went off, she hit snooze and went back to sleep. The alarm went off again and she remembered that all she had to do was put her feet on the ground. If having achieved her goal for that day she decided to get back into bed, she could. But that’s not what happened. Kendra put her feet on the ground. Once she was there she thought she may as well get up and go to the loo. On returning to her bed she saw her running gear and she thought, '“what the heck, I’m up, I may as well get dressed and at least go for a walk”. Once she was dressed and outside walking, she started to jog and before she knew it she had smashed her goal of putting her feet on the floor and ended up going for a run in the process.
Kendra used this technique for several weeks and it worked a treat for her. Why? I think it was because in order to reach her goal she needed something small and achievable to get her started and that helped her to build momentum. So it doesn’t matter what you pick to do first - make a conscious decision to have a first next step - even a small one like putting your feet on the ground.
What’s your first next step?
If you’re struggling to get clarity around your “WHY”, set your SMART goals, or take that first next step but want to make a healthy change, then it’s time to enlist the help of someone you can trust to get you started and guide you through the process. The first next step for you is making the firm decision to make change and get help to do it. After that the rest is easy.
Give me a call and lets discuss how I can be that trusted guide to give you the kick start you need.