I’m willing to bet that within a moments time of scrolling through daily news headlines, social media feeds, and even your inbox that you are bombarded with websites, coaches, and even friends suggesting they have the answers to fix your waistline and improve your health. All you have to do is join a Facebook group, buy XYZ, eat intermittently, watch your carbs and, Voila! You are fit and fabulous for life.
If, indeed, you’ve ever joined a Facebook group, purchased XYZ, fasted intermittently, watched your carbs, so forth and so on, then you know there is no unicorn out there that’s going to “fix” you. First, you’re not broken. Remember that. You are wonderfully and uniquely made. For real. Nonetheless, we are products of our habits. Every choice yields a result, some favorable and some not so much.
Beyond the quick fix mentally that we so often, and erroneously, have faith in, I want to challenge you to consider how small changes strategically implemented can help you build a sustainable and healthy lifestyle that will serve you well today and onward.
Narrow Your Focus
Often when we are energized and ready to embark on a new fitness or health related regimen, we tend to tackle too much at once. You may say to yourself, “I want to lose 25lbs, run a 5k, and practice yoga every day.” While each of those are admirable goals, going from zero to 100 is likely to backfire. Instead, take the time to assess your values. Research illustrates that people tend to commit better to projects and ideas that align closely with things that are most important to them. Were you a youth athlete and felt most alive when you had specific performance-related goals? Are you overweight and concerned about the health implications down the road? Has your lack of mobility negatively impacted your quality of life?
Ask yourself a few questions to help figure out what matters most and where you are most likely to consistently dedicate your time and energy. Taking this step will allow you to hone in on what really matters. And what really matters is what will keep you engaged and actively working towards your goals.
Now that you’ve narrowed your focus and identified what matters most, it’s time to start implementing some changes. I know you’re excited and ready to go, but just a minute, pump the breaks and hear me out.
Stanford University’s BJ Fogg introduced the idea of a Tiny Habit. The anatomy of the tiny habit includes strategically adding super simple changes to your routine to encourage big change over time. It’s as simple as it sounds. If your goal is to include more variety in your nutrition, consider adding a piece of fruit to your preexisting breakfast. That’s it. Once you feel good about getting in more fruit, you’ll be amazed at how inclined you feel to include more nutritious choices throughout the day. Adding one small and desirable habit to your preexisting routine will encourage greater and more long-lasting change over time. Take your time, don’t rush it, and most importantly don’t overwhelm yourself. Small, successive changes over the course of time will get you that much closer to your goal.
Anticipate Roadblocks and Barriers
Now you’re feeling great. You’ve identified what’s most important, you’ve made small changes that have collectively gotten you moving towards a better you. You’re feeling good, maybe even great, and then, life happens.
To truly be successful in behavior change, you’ve got to anticipate potential roadblocks and barriers. Perhaps it’s fourth quarter and work has become more demanding with deadlines and you can’t reach your daily steps goal, or maybe you, a child, or spouse falls sick and you can’t get out to do your regular grocery haul and weekend batch cooking. Or, because we’re nearing that time your year, the holidays are upon you and actually want to indulge a little more in things that don’t fit into your newer lifestyle.
Don’t give up, prepare and anticipate as much as possible. If you have a family, get them involved in planning and organizing easy and nutritious meals. Consider working out first thing in the morning to avoid allowing the fatigue of the day to set in and deter you later in the evenings. Figure out when and where you will indulge this holiday season and set reasonable parameters for your continued success.
Behavior change is anything but easy, so beware any “quick” fix. A little, or rather a lot, of effort is required for actions to become automatic and habitual. Remember what matters most, take it one step at a time, and know that curveballs are on the way. Kudos to you for investing in what really matters; you!
Certified Health Coach
Certified Personal Trainer