Adapting yourself to live a healthier lifestyle is a lot easier said than done. Good intentions are just that – intentions – until life situations get in the way and make it difficult to work on eating less of this or doing more of that.
These simple tips will help you work through the slump and keep you on track!
#1 Make your goals more specific
If you do feel like you need a serious change, then you’re going to need to break things into manageable categories. Fitness, nutrition and wellbeing are three good and distinct categories to start with.
You can then start thinking about what you’d like to achieve in these areas.
✓ Going to the gym “regularly” is a good start, but saying that you want to go three times a week is better.
✓ “Eating clean” is, again, too vague. Saying that you want to have six portions of fruit and vegetables a day and one cheat meal per week is much clearer.
You can then begin to implement these changes and will know where to start!
#2 Have a strong support network
You’re far less likely to back out of a gym session if you’ve made a date to meet your friend there tomorrow evening. If you build up a dynamic where you both work together, the shared sense of reliance gives you further impetus to keep turning up. There will be plenty of time when you’d rather have stayed in before a session, but you’ll come out an hour later with a clearer head and a sense of satisfaction for it having been worth it.
✓ By maintaining a strong support network you won’t be struggling alone. This is especially important during social gatherings – nobody wants to be scoffed at for being a buzzkill.
✓ If a friend is there with you you’ll never be left out and those that make fun will secretly admire your discipline and restraint. It’s an increasingly rare trait so be proud of it!
Temptation is powerful, but rewarding yourself wisely will keep the wolf from your door. If you’ve planned ahead and know that the bar of chocolate in the cupboard will be waiting for you at 8pm on Wednesday night when you’ve planned an especially gruelling gym session, it will be all the sweeter for having worked for it. It’ll also stop you from eating two or three at your desk while your mind is elsewhere!
Very few of us can realistically live life as a monk, so make sure you do treat yourself and, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about it.
✓ A drink or two a week won’t make a dent if you’re being disciplined everywhere else. It will also train your willpower for the inevitable temptation of a celebratory blowout!
#4 Start small and don’t take on too much at once
You stick a to-do list on the fridge that simply reads “sort life out” on it, throw away all your booze, snap your cigarettes in half, stuff the vegetable drawer of the fridge and immediately walk to the gym.
Within a few days you’re back at work, you feel on edge and have a blowout of all the things you swore off at the start of the year. Why did you falter? You took on too much at once – and you needn’t be too harsh on yourself!
✓ Set yourself one goal to begin with, spend a few weeks getting that sorted. The good thing about making improvements to your life is that they can take root on any day of the year. You’ve got plenty of time to make small but effective changes!
#5 Know the difference between a setback and failure
Unexpectedly pulling a late shift at work, feeling groggy and not having enough time to cook brown rice – from scratch – can push even the most stubborn of us towards the drive-thru. If you deviate from your plan on these occasions it can be tempting to consider the whole day a write-off. Maybe then you’ll get out of bed a little later tomorrow morning, grab something from the garage because you’re in a rush and… see where this is going?
Having an all-or-nothing attitude is a sure-fire way of setting yourself up to fail. Do not place too much stock in getting everything perfect all of the time. Even if you feel you have full control over your life, things will rarely go perfectly.
✓ A setback is something that you recover from and they come in all shapes and sizes. It only becomes a failure if you refuse to try and work your way back into the swing!
#6 Be consistent
Unfortunately some of us do not have particularly predictable schedules. There is always time to be made, however, and if you are consistent then it will soon become a habit. Consistency is the key difference between those that stick to their resolutions and those that can’t.
All of us can give something a go for a few days but quickly get distracted or decide that other things are more important. If you end up missing a week at the gym it will be that much harder to go back once the weekend is over so keep the momentum up – you’ll be glad that you did!
#7 Write things down and be organised
Spending a bit of time ahead of an activity getting yourself organised will make it less stressful and you will get far more out of it. It’s far too easy to forget what vegetables you need and be lured in by a tempting offer on the biscuit aisle if you haven’t prepared a priority shopping list.
Let’s say you have packed out the vegetable drawer and you want to actually use all of it rather than chucking mushy cucumbers and wilted spinach leaves straight in the bin:
✓ Making a simple meal plan is a terrific way to make sure that you get the most out of your food shop whilst also dramatically cutting costs. It will help you explore the tighter holes of your belt as you shed the pounds, and you will definitely find that you’ll have a lot more disposable income at the end of the month.
✓ Beyond these benefits, writing down the small things you have achieved and spending some time to reflect on how you are feeling is a valuable process towards improvement. It’s therapeutic and helps you alter your approach going forward.
Take a bit of time before going to bed to write out a few simple goals for the next day and you’ll wake up knowing what you’ve got to do!
#8 Work out a schedule that suits you
Yes, there are ways to train yourself to be more of a morning person, but I would argue that it isn’t always necessary. Lots of people don’t have a 9-5 schedule these days, and there is nothing wrong with getting your gym session in straight after work or even at midnight if that suits you.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t push yourself to get more out of your day!
✓ We are all different and our schedules and goals should be as unique as we are ourselves. Realising that the buck stops with you is the most powerful way to learn that no program or diet will immediately fix you. You have to be the one to put in the time and make it work.
#9 Remember that there are no shortcuts
We are increasingly a culture that demands quick results. Yes, there is much motivation to be had in setting goals, but it is wise to remember that giving something up, or alternatively working hard and getting much better at something, won’t immediately solve everything for you.
✓ It is about refining your attitude and approach towards life in general.
✓ The best thing about getting in better shape is that it demonstrates more than anything your ability to take control of your own life. By literally changing your physical being, you are the master of your own destiny. It is truly the most empowering and confidence-boosting process and is something that you can use in everything that you do!
Take home message
You don’t need to run marathons or throw cars over your head to make big changes, but remembering to plan, start small and make yourself accountable by writing training logs, meal plans and journals will show you how much gradual and incremental change can contribute towards a total transformation.
Everyone is capable of implementing these changes and they are adaptable enough to fit your life right now. It’s on you now to put it all together because deep down you know that you can do it!