Change is healthy and necessary, and the fast-paced world in which we live certainly doesn’t make a healthy lifestyle easy. Nowadays, we look for instant gratification, quick fixes, and rarely stop to ‘smell the roses.’ The majority of Americans experience high levels of stress, and oftentimes this contributes to unhealthy food choices, poor mindset and little to no exercise.
On top of it all, we are in the midst of an obesity and health crisis. While this should be a wake up call to us all, unfortunately sometimes it instills fear and anxiety in many as they don’t know where to start. Here are a few of my favorite starting points for making healthy changes.
1. Define your goals
First things first, define what type of change you want to commit to. If you don’t know what you are committing to, then you will never be able to truly commit to change. Be clear and be honest while defining your commitment. Make a plan by defining why you are doing this and how you’re going to do this.
Let’s use the example of fitness. If you don’t like the condition your body is currently in, you might decide to change it. You must define why are you doing this; be as clear, honest and detailed as you can. Ask yourself why, until you have your final answer (i.e. you want to lose weight- why? you want to get healthier- why?). When you continue asking yourself why, you get to your true desire, rather than a superficial response which rarely breeds results. After you have your ‘why,’ draft a plan regarding the methods you are going to practice to achieve this, such as improving your eating habits and increasing your physical activity. This will make you aware of what you are actually committing to and prepare yourself for the work ahead.
2. Be persistent
Commitment requires persistence. You cannot chicken out because you are finding it hard to adapt to change, or if the change is not immediately working out for you. Remember that health issues and weight gain don’t happen overnight, so they won’t resolve overnight.
To acquire great results from the change, you have to practice persistence. Again, using the example of fitness, some days you will do well. You’ll eat healthy meals and you will workout like a beast. Other days will not go so smoothly, and perhaps you’ll find yourself eating bon bons on the couch. These small failures only equate to big failures if you do not persevere and power past them to try again the next day. You must be persistent to get the results your heart desires and learn to get back on the wagon when you fall off.
3. Get your mindset right
I’ve encountered so many clients that go into the process of making health changes, that have a negative mindset. If you go in thinking you are going to fail, guess what? You’ll fail. Sounds a bit harsh, but it’s the reality. There is a huge component regarding mindset when making changes. That involves you staying positive, even when you ‘fall off the wagon.’
So once you have your goals set, spend a few moments writing out the benefits you’ll gain from these changes. Maybe it’s more energy to spend with your children, less anxiety on the drive to work, or 30 lbs of weight loss. Once you have your benefits written out, spend 3 minutes each morning visualizing what your life will look like once you achieve those goals. This allows you to rewire your brain a bit, which sets you up for total success.
4. Start small
I know many have the mentality of “go big or go home,” which is fine…if it works for you. But for many, that isn’t the case, and then they feel defeated if they don’t meet their goal right away. So, I always start my clients on small, manageable goals.
Perhaps you want to eliminate all soda and caffeine from your diet. Great goal. But if you’re currently drinking 2 soda’s per day, and 3 cups of coffee, going cold turkey isn’t likely going to be sustainable. That’s where I encourage people to chunk their goals into bite size pieces, which could be as simple as committing to cut back by 1-2 soda’s per week, or to 2 cups of coffee per day. Once you’ve mastered your mini goal, set another until you’ve ultimately met your final goal.
Change doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require work. If you’re needing more suggestions, I invite you to join the group Freedom From Anxiety: a cozy community for women (just click here). We offer manageable tips for women, and free weekly trainings to help you meet your goals.