We’ve all been there. You want to lose weight, begin exercising, or just create an overall healthy lifestyle for yourself, but in the past, it didn’t work out so well. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s likely that you’ve tried several different diets out. Maybe you lost a few pounds, but after a few weeks just didn’t see the results you hoped for and gave up. Or, you got a gym membership and went for a week straight, only to abruptly lose motivation and stop attending. (Read More…)Maybe you want to start a healthy habit, but you’re being met with a lot of resistance from yourself. Thoughts like, “I don’t want to give up my favorite foods just to lose weight,” or, “I don’t really have time to work out every day.”
Diets and creating healthy habits tend not to work when we assume that making a lifestyle change has to be all or nothing.We get discouraged when we realize we can’t do it all at once. But it doesn’t have to be this way! When I decided that I wanted to create a healthy lifestyle routine for myself in order to increase my energy and manage my stress, I created a very overly ambitious list of things that I thought needed to happen. Workout 5 times a week. Meditate for 30 minutes daily. Stop eating fast-food and eat at least 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables a day. Cut out all processed grains and sugar. Read something of value for at least 30 minutes a day. And that’s just part of it. I looked back at the list and thought, ‘Woah! Maybe this is too much. There’s no way I can squeeze in 5 workouts a week. And no fast food, ever?! What if I want a milkshake, or fries? I’ll never be able to get this healthy.’ Our minds have sneaky ways of preventing us from reaching our goals, and setting specific, seemingly unrealistic goals is a great way to set ourselves up for failure before even starting.
Don’t approach your lifestyle goal with a “I’m going to overhaul my diet and become vegan and practice yoga everyday all at once” attitude.Setting the right intention is key to getting your lifestyle goal off the ground and heading in a sustainable direction. Example: If you set an intention to completely shift from the average American diet to vegan overnight, in all likelihood, you are going to become overwhelmed with trying to change so much at once and quit. Not to mention, your body isn’t going to be happy with the extreme changes that are happening so quickly. This is why it is so important to realize that lasting lifestyle changes do not happen overnight, and it is 100% okay to ease into a new routine rather than trying to tackle the entire goal in one fell swoop. It also gives your body and mind time to adjust and ease into the lifestyle transitions.
Break your lifestyle goal down into tiny, manageable baby steps.Rather than making that shift to vegan overnight, for example, take a look at the overall goal and break it down in to smaller, actionable items that you can incorporate one by one without too much effort. Example: My overall goal of becoming healthy consists of exercise, healthy diet, and attending to my mental/ emotional needs. To break this down a level further, one of the large goals of meeting my mental/emotional needs is meditating. Instead of starting by meditating 30 minutes a day (if you’ve tried this, you know it’s basically impossible to sit in silence for this long without practice!), I’d break it down to the smallest, actionable item by starting with 60 seconds. Yep, just a minute. I can’t really come up with an excuse for how I can’t find time for one minute of meditating, and it gets me used to the idea of sitting still. As one minute become comfortable, I can set the time for 5 minutes, then 10, etc.
When choosing which steps to start with, don’t cut out things you love from your life.Instead, choose steps that you can easily add in to your current routine. Thinking about the things you’d have to give up in order to create a healthy life will only create a sense of disdain towards the goal, making it less likely for you to stick to it. Why? We are much more receptive to being told that we can do something (i.e. “You can eat an extra piece of fruit today”) rather than we cannot do something (i.e. “I know how much you love chocolate ice cream, but sorry, you’re going to have to give that up…”). Instead of getting rid of things you love right off the bat, start by adding in one small improvement. Example: Rather than forbidding yourself from ever getting fast-food, start by adding in a healthy snack between meals, such as low-fat yogurt, some nuts and seeds, or a green drink. Notice how the healthy snacks boost your energy between meals, and you will begin to crave the light, healthy options over greasy, heavy foods like drive through meals, making it so much easier to eat less of it. The takeaway here is that when undertaking a new lifestyle goal (or any goal, for that matter!), it’s important to:
- Don’t set unrealistic goals that set you up for failure; instead, approach it with the mindset that you will start small
- Break down the goal into tiny steps that are easy to perform
- Make sure to begin with the steps that allow you to add something into your routine, rather than ones that require you to take something away