I really dislike the word 'diet,' but in my profession, it seems to be the thing people want to do.
Can we call it a 'lifestyle change'? Really, a 'diet' sounds so...negative...and temporary...and painful!
In the hopes of making the goal of weight loss a little less 'diet'-y, I'm going to give you all a few tips to turn a 'diet' into an organized 'lifestyle change' -- which will ultimately make your changes more successful and lasting.
In my opinion, the most important part of a lifestyle change starts before you even change your lifestyle (say that ten times fast!). It’s the planning. The precursor to the real change. I’ve changed my habits frequently throughout my life, and the most successful changes have always been after careful planning and consideration. If you think back on the times you’ve improved your lifestyle habits (or attempted to), what really made you change them?
The 5 Absolutely Necessary Steps to Start your Lifestyle Change
1. Make a plan! I cannot stress this enough! You can’t just say, “I’m going to eat healthy,” and be done with it. What are you going to change about your diet? What are you going to do to change it? Are you going to work out at nights? Are you going to buy fresh produce weekly? Know what you are getting yourself into and exactly what it is going to take to change your healthy habits! These are what we call your clear and measurable goals and objectives.
2. Have specific start date and check points. Start your diet on November 1st! Don’t just dive into the change, allow yourself to plan it out and ease into it. Don’t totally disregard eating healthy and staying active until the 1st, but don’t totally jump in before then. Use this time to make yourself more successful. Also, check in with yourself throughout your diet. Instead of saying you’ll be 15 pounds lighter in 2 months, say you want to be 1.5 pounds lighter each week -- make your check points hold you accountable today, not a month from now.
3. Start with a reset button. The hardest part of a diet is the beginning. It is almost impossible to go from eating cookies and a zillion calories a day to eating veggies and what feels like zero calories a day. Detoxing your body with a filling cleanse (such as The Nourish Cleanse!) allows you to feel like you’ve hit a reset button. You don’t need to do a juice cleanse, but eating pure smoothies and veggies for a couple days can make you crave those foods again. You don’t just have to detox your body when you start a diet, you have to detox your house! Rid your house of leftover cookies, candy, and any other unhealthy junk that you don’t want around. Make your home conducive to good habits in any way you can. In the past, if I felt like I wasn't being active enough, I used to take the batteries out of my tv. It seems silly, but when I sat on my couch, I was much less likely to go get the batteries from the oh-so-high shelf that I needed a step stool for just to watch tv out of boredom. I haven't turned on my TV in over a year, and even got rid of cable.
4. Find support and motivation. I don’t know about you, but I hate to fail. For me, one of the worst parts of failing is everyone knowing I did. If you allow yourself to find support and motivation in your friends and family, or even online sources (I’m here for ya!!), you are more likely to stick to your goals. If you give up or it seems too hard, you have a whole group of people who want you to succeed and who believe in you enough to talk you out of quitting. Other than my support group, what motivates me are pictures. Old pictures of me at a thinner weight or pictures from Pinterest or fitness magazines. These inspire me and remind me that it’s possible to eat healthier and be more active. (Note: I do NOT use magazine covers or celebrities to inspire me because they are much more heavily airbrushed and unrealistically/unhealthfully skinny, something I have no interest in being and neither should you!)
5. Organize and write down the plan! Write. Everything. Down. When I start a serious diet, I buy a new notebook specifically for it. The first page of the notebook is my goals. I write down my current numbers and my goal numbers (whether that be weight, inches, BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, resting heart rate, or all of the above!). The next page is always my plan (I also call this my objectives). The goal is the grand scheme. It’s the marathon you want to run next year. Its 20 pounds of weight loss. The objectives are the little goals that will help you reach the big goal. For instance, if the goal is to eliminate processed foods, and objective would be to shop at your local farmer’s market weekly. If the goal is to run a marathon in 6 months, the objective would be to run 3 miles 5x per week. Writing these things down helps you keep track of them and quantify your progress. If you can’t measure your progress, you’re less likely to stay motivated. After my objectives, I write about my motivations. I collect all of the things that inspire me to reach my goal and write them down in one place. This may be to have energy to run around with your kids, to wear that old pair of size 25 jeans, or what have you. Next, a schedule. Then, your exercise and food log to keep track. To summarize, this is what your notebook should look like:
-The Goal(s) [ie. Lose 10 pounds; run a marathon]
-The Objectives [ie. Eat 1400 calories per day; run 5x per week]
-The Motivation [ie. My health; that old picture of me in college]
-The Schedule [ie. Day 1-3: Detox; Day 4-10: run 10 mi/week; Day 11-20: run 20 mi/week]
-The Log [ie. what you ate and what physical activity you did that day]
What do you do before starting a big lifestyle change, or what have you found to be successful? Are there any tips I missed?