Changing your lifestyle is not easy, but it's necessary to reach many goals, like increasing your energy, losing weight, building strength, or practicing and improving upon a skill. The most common lifestyle change failures I've seen are when it comes to weight loss and/or building strength, and it's usually because the approach lacks on of the following 5 things...
1. A person. You need external support from your family, friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, or whoever. But, you also need THE person. The one person who not only believes in you, but guides you and teaches you. You need someone to rely on you to follow through, and uses that partnership to push you forward toward success. That person can be a dietitian (hey I know a great one!), a personal trainer ( though I would not use their nutrition advice, only fitness ), or a best friend or significant other doing a lifestyle change with you (probably the least effective, but still helpful person). You need to know that if you fail, you’ve not only let yourself down, but you’ve let them down too. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s easy to forgive ourselves when we’re finally diving into the ice cream we’ve forbidden ourselves from having, or skipping a workout for Netflix. It’s a lot more difficult to explain to a dietitian that you had a really rough day cause you missed the bus and your boyfriend was a pain in the ass so you decided to gain 5 pounds in french fries last night. Accountability is key.
2. A thing. This thing is something to always have on hand. Something the you have to subscribe to and contribute to when you make good choices. A food log. An activity log. A goal tracker. An app on your iPhone. Something to clue you in and keep you on track. I always carry around a cute little journal to jot down my habits in!
3. An investment. This investment can be time or money. Although it kinda sucks, money is more effective. A gym membership, a standing dietitian appointment, or a simple, less expensive meal plan are all positive investments. When you spend money on your diet, you have invested. That way, when you come home from work and think “blehhh I will literally fall over trying to do an at-home workout right now…” you’ll remember that you spent your hard earned cash on that workout video and darnit, you’re doing it. If you don’t have the money to spend on even the cheaper option of a meal plan, investing your time is also effective. Spend Sunday afternoons planning your meals for the week and prepping them. That way, when Thursday comes along and you want to order a pizza, you know you spent hours planning recipes and cutting up veggies for the delicious dinner you picked out from that awesome site, Nourish (oh you shouldn’t have!). Time, money, what have you, invest something anything in your health.
4. A trigger. There’s an effective method to quit smoking in which you put a picture of why you’re quitting where ever you typically smoke. So, if you always smoke in the car, you put a picture of your beautiful kids who hate your smoking on the dash. The same method can be used for changing other parts of your lifestyle. First, you make your environment conducive to a healthy diet. That’s not always enough. When I get home from a long day, if I sit on the couch to read or watch tv before making dinner, I always face the brutal dilemma: well, I guess I can miss my workout today if I definitely go tomorrow…. I always decide to go. Why? My night time workout is hot power yoga. Where is my yoga mat? Right in front of the couch. I literally stare at my yoga mat when I ask myself this. I love yoga, I know I’ll love being on the mat once I’m there, so seeing the mat triggers those feelings. I also tape gorgeous food pictures from healthy recipe blogs to the inside of my pantry and on my fridge. Healthy food is delicious, you just need to remind yourself that sometimes, especially when unhealthy food is much more “accessibly delicious,” as I like to call it. A similar method is post-it notes. If I’ve been having a rough few days, I put inspiring motivational post-its on my bathroom mirror. (I am such a sucker for lame motivational quotes!) Remember How Do You Know, where Reese Witherspoon plays an athlete named Lisa (I can’t make this stuff up)? She literally covers her apartment in motivational post its and I am totally on board. So, post-its, pictures, yoga mats, whatever they may be, set up some triggers that will keep you motivated and moving through your new changes with ease.
5. A positive environment. It's important to detox your body and home before starting a big lifestyle change. You also need to be sure your environment is consistently supportive, and won’t destroy all your hard work. I have two types of friends (who I love equally): bad influences and good influences. Some of my friends just bring it out of me. I totally adapt to a “screw it” attitude about being healthy. Unluckily for me, this sometimes includes my family. When I’m with certain friends, they remind me of unhealthier times (like eating pizza hungover in bed in college, or growing up and eating terribly). Other friends have the opposite effect. I crave healthy foods that I enjoy by myself when I’m with them. Make sure that you know which friends are which, and that you know how to control your habits when you’re with the bad influences. Though I’m sure they’re great friends (and obviously not doing it on purpose!), make sure you know how to handle eating with them. Maybe eat a big healthy meal before seeing them, or find a way to suppress your lack of willpower with them. Or, hang out with your positive influence friends more often to motivate your healthy habits! If it’s your boyfriend or girlfriend that’s a negative influence (trust me, I’ve been there and it seriously stinks), try to do this diet together or cook your healthy food for them too!
What are some of your triggers when it comes to lifestyle changes? Do any of you have any ideas of a person that can motivate you or deter you from your diet?
If you are thinking about changing or improving something in your life, I believe in you and I know you will totally crush it! Plus, you ALWAYS have me for motivation, guidance, and support!