Today I wanted to gear my blog toward a little more of the educational aspect of what I do! It’s fun to share about my own life and recipes and things, but you guys aren’t just hopping on my website to read about me! You’re here because you want to LEARN, which is awesome and exactly why I do what I do. So, let’s chat a little about habits, and how we can best form some healthy ones.
Let’s start with an example. Let’s say you’re new to this whole healthy lifestyle thing. You haven’t really had the best diet in the past, and you haven’t been much for exercise either. But you’ve decided that you want to change all that.
… But how? It all seems overwhelming, amirite?! And it definitely is, to combine proper nutrition with working out all at once after not doing any of it for so long!
So, that’s why I’m going to suggest that you DON’T do it that way.
Wait… is she saying that I shouldn’t undertake all of this at once? Yes, actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying! Ok, hear me out. Let’s go back to that same example.
So here you are, starting from scratch. You decide one day that you’re going to completely transform your lifestyle. Awesome! Let’s do this! You get super pumped up and your attitude is positive and you’re ready to hit the ground running.
So, Monday comes. The day you’ve chosen to start this new undertaking. Maybe you completely meal-prepped on Sunday! You’ve packed your healthy lunch and you take off for work.
Let's say the first day goes pretty well. You eat your healthy snacks & lunch and you even go to the gym after work!
And maybe Tuesday goes well. And Wednesday. And even Thursday.
But then Friday hits. And although you’ve packed your lunch yet again, you get invited out to Happy Hour. So you skip the gym, because you’ve gone all week so don’t you deserve a day off? And you jump on that Happy Hour train, and before you know it you’re two margaritas in and you’ve had a whole bowl of nachos to boot.
You wake up the next morning, and not only do you have a killer headache, but you’re kicking yourself for all the calories you consumed the night before. You feel like you’ve already fallen of the wagon, and rather than picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and climbing back on, you abandon the wagon altogether because there’s NO way you can do this! After all, you're not even a week in & you already screwed up!
Ok, so perhaps this scenario was a bit of an exaggeration and it didn’t happen so quickly, or so profoundly, but the reality is that situations like this happen ALL the time because people don’t give themselves enough credit for being human and screwing up sometimes. We can be perfectionists, and if we don’t do it all and do it exactly right, we throw in the towel.
This is why I suggest that instead of biting off more than we can chew in the first place, we take teeny tiny bites to begin with! Instead of making this big, hairy, and probably somewhat unrealistic goal, we make small goals initially to build up to the larger, hairier goal that is much more attainable after we successfully summit the smaller, stepping-stone goals. We need to create a LIFESTYLE change, not deprive ourselves for a month and then completely binge and ruin all the progress we've made.
Let me provide some examples of these small goals.
1. You don’t drink enough water during the day, so you make a goal for yourself to bring your water bottle to work daily, or you decide to drink a big glass of water with lemon every morning at breakfast and every night at dinner. Or you switch out a soda for a glass of water.
2. You don’t eat enough fruits & veggies throughout the day, so you make a goal to eat 5 fruits & veggies/day and maybe start to meal prep in advance to ensure that you meet this goal.
3. You’ve noticed that dairy/gluten/soy etc bothers your digestive system, so you make a plan to eliminate these from your diet.
4. Exercise hasn’t been a part of your daily routine for a long time, so you decide to include some sort of exercise in your schedule 3 days/week for 30 minutes.
5. You’ve noticed that you drink several cups of coffee/day and load them up with cream and sugar, so you decide to switch out sugar for Splenda and cream for almond milk, and maybe you make a goal to cut down the number of cups/day or replace a cup or two with green tea.
So these are just small, individual goals that are pretty doable, don’t you think? And I mean doable when you look at them individually, and not all at once. My advice, therefore, is to pick one of these goals (or your own goals that you’ve written down for yourself), or maybe two at the most, and tackle one/week, or one every two weeks. Once you’ve completed the goal(s) successfully, move on to the next! But only then, as to not overwhelm yourself. I promise you, you will be much more successful, and you will feel so accomplished each time you complete a goal! Falling off the wagon & giving up will be a thing of the past.