Do you know you need to change?
Do you know you need to get more sleep or exercise or eat better?
… Do you feel completely unmotivated anyway?
The problem with noble intentions like these is that they’re vague—they’re difficult to achieve because they lack specificity. They are also wide-reaching, and that can make them overwhelming!
So instead of thinking about every single thing you feel you need to change about yourself and your life, pick one thing. For instance, instead of focusing on sleep, exercise, and food, decide to focus on just food.
Food is itself a pretty broad category, and quite frankly you don’t want to change everything about how you eat--I guarantee that you do have some wonderful, healthy eating practices. So exactly what about your eating needs to change? Consider adding something instead of taking something away. Can you add more fruits, veggies, or whole grains? What about water? Rather than dwelling upon your “bad” habits, think about your “good” options. Then decide on one thing. For example, you might decide to add in more vegetables.
Adding in more veggies is great because they’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. But the word “more” is still too broad. What, specifically, are you going to add? How much? What is reasonable for your life? Is having a salad every single day for lunch achievable, or is it just a dream that you wish would come true?
Consider your daily life. Do you eat snacks during your day? Can you substitute carrots and hummus for that scone? How about breakfast? Can you add some chard or spinach to your egg scramble? What about dinner? Can you think about the vegetable dish before thinking about the protein and the grain? Now we’re really getting down to specific changes that a real person can make in the way they live.
Using this method, a useful, achievable healthy eating goal would be: I’m going to eat 3 servings of vegetables every day. Depending on what you’re already eating, you could’ve said 1 serving or 5 servings or anything in between. The point of the exercise is to take what you’re doing and improve on it with a simple, unobtrusive change.
Because change is difficult. Really. This is the most important thing to remember, because in two weeks, the reasons why you were making the change will no longer be in the forefront of your mind, and that’s when it gets easy to fall off the wagon. Remember, if you stumble on the path you have laid out for yourself, you don’t have let yourself crash and burn. Simply notice what happened, acknowledge it, and get back to your plan.
Most importantly during all of this, track your changes on a daily basis. If your plan is to eat more fruits and veggies, write down what you eat at each meal. If things fall apart, write down why. If you get yourself back on your plan, write down how you did it. If you need to, give yourself a gold star at the end of each day!
You can do this!
Answer the following questions:
1) What do I want to change about my life?
Ex: Sleep, exercise, food
2) Pick one change you want to focus on.
3) Refine that change--pick one specific aspect.
4) Create a quantifiable, achievable goal based on your current lifestyle and practices.
Ex: I will eat vegetables 3 times per day
5) Figure out realistic ways you are going to make changes to achieve your goal.
Ex: I can add spinach to my morning scramble, hummus and carrots for a snack, sliced cucumbers with my sandwich and an extra vegetable with dinner.
6) Write it all down
7) Accept both your successes and failures