Since this is my first blog of the new year, I wanted to write about something that is on most of our minds right now. ...no, not New Year's resolutions...I don't believe in them, simply because most people never see them to fruition. I want to talk about the steps it takes to make a lifestyle change.
First let's look at what a lifestyle change is: it is modifying or eliminating long-held habits of eating or physical activity and maintaining the new habits over months and years. Since many of us have tried, and failed numerous times before to bring about healthy changes in our lives, this can be an intimidating journey to begin. I think the most crucial element is simply that you begin. Success lies in taking small, sustainable steps toward lasting, doable changes for the betterment of your health. There are several things to consider for the successful implementation of the changes that you want to make...let's look at them:
Identify your priorities and commitments
Write down exactly what it is that you want to do/change. Remember that the things that you spend the most time on, are the things that are the most important to you. If you want to make exercise a consistent part of your life, then schedule it into your day...make an appointment with yourself...in other words, make it a priority.
Make sure that the change is something that YOU want
This is all about YOU, and for YOU...no one else. Why do you want to make the change(s)? What is your motivation? Really think about that, and then mentally hold on to that reason/motivation...this is what will help you to keep going when you feel like quitting. I call this, "knowing your why".
Make sure that you feel good about the changes that you're making
If this is going to be sustainable, you need to embrace it, and be passionate about it. If you decide that you want to eat healthier, then clean out your fridge and pantry and eliminate foods that aren't healthy...celebrate that decision...play fun music while you're doing it...dance...play "shoot the hoop" with the food into the garbage can...make it fun and enjoyable.
Make small, progressively changing goals
I don't want you to change everything overnight...that would be almost impossible to stick to for the long haul. I recommend that when you are identifying your priorities, that you then break each item down into smaller "bite sized" changes. For example: "I want to eat healthier." Okay, start by cleaning out the unhealthy food items from your kitchen (if it's not there...you can't eat it). The next step (week two) might be, eliminating all products with artificial sweeteners and sugar. You might then progress to cutting out milk by substituting almond milk (week three). See where I'm going with this? Make your changes progressive...that will make your lifestyle change easier to adhere to.
Finally, don't beat yourself up if you have a day where you slip back into your old habits...the key is to get back into your new life as quickly as possible. Once you begin to feel how good it feels to feel good, you won't want to go back to the "old you". Your body will reward your changes with more energy, feeling better...lighter...healthier. Friends will comment on how amazing you look...it takes time, but trust me, people will notice. YOU CAN DO THIS...and you'll be happy that you did!