The only thing that is constant is change, and why shouldn’t it be as we are living in an ever changing and evolving world.
Having made the conscious choice to lead a healthier lifestyle, whatever the reason might be, is the best step in the right direction, but how do you do it and where to start might seem like a daunting task and can be enough to derail anyone’s good intentions.
I have been where you are now and through trial, error and a few failures along the way, I am pleased to say that I am leading a healthier, and very importantly sustainable, lifestyle and am so excited to share my learnings with you to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
If there is only one piece of advice that you take out of this article, but trust me I will be giving more than one, it would be that in order to ensure that you maintain your commitment to a healthier lifestyle, small changes are easier to maintain than one giant change. By taking small steps continuously, taking bigger steps will become easier and before you know it you have come as far as the giant leap that you intended to take.
Very often people engage in new year’s resolutions and want to change for good, but before long they give up and revert back to their old ways. In a survey done by Bupa in 2015, they found that 63% of Brits failed at their new year’s resolutions of which 66% lasted less than a month. One of my absolute joys in life are to prove cynics wrong, so let me share my knowledge and experience with you so that you too can prove them wrong and not be a statistic.
My top 5 reasons why changes don’t last
- Attempting to change alone
Too often when attempting change, we attempt to do it by ourselves. By doing this we are putting ourselves on the back foot to start off with as we are attempting new ways of doing things on foreign soil, with no guidance and no support and as such feel alone in our journey.
- Change too big too soon
When wanting to make a change for good, we want to go from zero to hero and quite often is unrealistic and we set ourselves up for failure before even starting.
- Losing sight of goals
What is the reason for wanting the change in your life or the new year’s resolution? The driving force behind wanting to change should be exactly that, it should drive you, but when you forget about it, it loses it’s traction and can lead to you not being as committed as you were at the beginning and eventually it becomes nothing but a distant memory.
- Little or no reward
Too often we only have the end goal in mind and end up losing track of the progress that we made along the way. Progress is still an improvement on the day before and if not reminded of this it can lead to being demotivated.
- Negative and daunting mindset
The mind is a powerful thing and by changing the way that we think about something, can in turn change our actions accordingly. Thinking of all the negatives rather than the positives associated with a change can cause us to find every excuse in the book why it won’t work and why we shouldn’t even try rather then seeing the positive side along with all the possibilities.
We are living in a day and age where we demand instant results and grow impatient if it does not happen. However, like with all good things, it comes to those who wait and work hard at it, albeit slow some times. How do we ensure that we keep working towards our goals and change for good?
My top 5 things to do differently to ensure change for good
- Buddy up
Having someone wanting to achieve the same goals as you can be very motivating and supportive. By embarking on the new exciting journey with a friend you will have someone to share your experience with and they will understand what you are going through. Some days you might not want to continue which is where your buddy can step in to get you back on track. An experience is so much better when you have someone to share it with.
- Gradual changes
Mother nature changes gradually from one season to the next, so let’s take a lesson from her book and follow suit. Make a small change every week rather than one big change as it is easier to adapt and stick to. Instead of going cold turkey and changing your eating habits 360 degrees, change gradually e.g. change from white bread in one week to brown the next, then to wholewheat the following and then rye bread rather than going from white bread in one week to no bread the next week. A shock to the system can have dire consequences.
- Visualize goals
What is it that you are working towards? Saving for a holiday in Thailand? Take a picture of your destination and make it the screen saver on your computer. Want to fit into that pair of jeans again? Hang it somewhere in your cupboard where you will see it everyday. Working towards getting a six pack? Put a picture on the fridge. By visualizing and seeing our goals regularly, we are motivated on both a conscious and unconscious level. Looking at the picture of the six pack might just cause you to think twice before reaching in the fridge for that ice cream.
Your main goal is your driving force for the ultimate change that you want to achieve, set milestones in place along the way and have rewards in place for when you achieve them, bearing in mind that the milestone should warrant the reward. Gone to the gym five days for this week compared to a goal of five days per week? A stop at Wakkaberry for a delicious ice cream is just what the doctor ordered.
- Mind over matter
How we conceive things and think about them has a huge impact in terms of our actions towards these thoughts. Having a goal of ‘Eating healthier’ has positive connotations such as ‘Improving for the better’ and is more motivating than ‘Dieting’ as it has negative connotations such as ‘Restrictions’ and ‘What is not allowed’. By having positive thoughts on improving eating habits will lead towards healthier eating, whilst knowing you can’t have something will lead to you craving it even more and eventually even giving in to it.
Insanity was once defined as completing the same action in the same way and expecting different results. You are unique and you need to find what works for you, in order to achieve new results you need to do things in a different way.
Remember it takes on average 21 to 30 days to adapt a new habit so don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t happen overnight, and keep on moving even if slowly, keep it up because you are still moving forward.
Do you have any advice or experiences that you would like to share? We are listening …