How many diets have you thrown yourself into only to fall off the wagon, binge and then “start again on Monday”?
When you are trying to bring about change in your life, whether that be to reach a healthy weight, a new way of eating or starting a new habit the key to creating lasting change is BEHAVIOUR CHANGE.
Last month I committed to 30 days of yoga by following Yoga with Adriene’s ‘Courage’ Playlist. It promised to be fiery and I felt I gained a lot; improved core strength and improved upper body strength but committing to daily practice also gave me focus.
I mainly hit the mat first thing in the morning and as we ambled into July with no session planned, I intended to get some early work done before little got up, but the first thing I actually thought about was yoga. I really WANTED to move my body and stretch, to ease myself into the day, so that’s what I did.
How does this relate to you?
If we want to start a new habit or behaviour that we would like to become part of us and our lifestyle we need a few things to be in place to make that work.
Make it feel good!
Firstly, it needs to FEEL GOOD we are emotional beings and our brains have a bias that steer us away from things that we think are hard or we have a negative association towards, so you need to be easy on yourself and choose the right thing for you. There is no point in saying you are going to swim everyday if you don’t actually like swimming that much but think it would be a good thing for you to do because you read an article in a magazine about it. This is why I wanted to have a session on the mat this morning because I love the way it makes me feel, the benefits are secondary.
Give yourself a prompt
You set out highly motivated and with good intentions, yet I’ve learned from my clients that they would often forget to do the new goal, such as ‘drink more water’. When trying to introduce a new habit into your life you need to attach it to something you already do on a regular basis so that this becomes a prompt or reminder for you, e.g. when you get up in the morning, when you switch the kettle on or when you arrive home from work. Looking at your routine and making it work for you is an essential part of this mix to give you consistency.
You cannot rely on willpower
You cannot rely on willpower to get you results. Willpower is only ever good in the short term and as soon as you have a busy day or are feeling stressed willpower drops to zero and you are back stuck in that vicious cycle of ‘starting again on Monday’. This is why many diets and lifestyle changes fail after a few weeks. By giving yourself a reminder that is already built into your day (see previous point) you’re not relying on willpower or having to remember to undertake the task in the first place. Make life easy on yourself!
This is probably not the first time you have attempted to start being more active/lose weight/*enter your personal goal* and you need to factor in the emotions connected to this. If we think deep down we’ll fail because we always have, then it will be much easier to give in to temptation and make poor choices. Maybe you were criticised as a child, at school or have self-esteem issues? Our brain wants to protect us from harm and will steer you towards doing what you’ve always done as it feels safe and comfortable. This relates back to our first point about feeling good.
If it feels good you’re not having to fight yourself.
Don’t go too big
Lastly, don’t go too big, too fast! This is so important. Some of the yoga sessions I did were only 20 minutes long. If each session was a full-on hour or more, I never would have succeeded in completing 30 days of yoga. And likewise, you need to do the same with your new habits. Don’t set yourself up to fail (which relates directly back to our previous points). If you would like to start eating breakfast in the morning but currently don’t have it at all, don’t say “I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast every day” something like this might be more realistic “I am going to eat a nourishing breakfast on the days I’m not at work”. This still takes you in the direction of your goal and it is achievable, so you see that you can succeed.
By combining these factors you will quickly be able to build momentum. Once you see that you can succeed, and you are making progress, this makes you feel good. It’s this that makes you want to keep doing it and build on that habit, so it becomes part of you and you achieve the lasting change you desire.
Based in Essex, I specialise in working with women approaching the menopause who would like to gain control of their weight and manage their symptoms through changing their diet. If you would like a no obligation chat to find out more about me or to explore working together please fill out my contact form and I will be in touch.