Make your resolutions count!
I’ve done it so many times – making a decision to change my habits from tomorrow, creating an elaborate plan on how to achieve that and going wholeheartedly into the new lifestyle…for a couple of days. After the initial excitement, the magic of a fresh start disappears and I’m faced with a challenge of fighting the urge to go back to the old habits, whilst trying to remind myself that this new life is exactly what I wanted. Of course, the struggle eventually ends the same way – everyday obligations give me a perfect excuse for not having the willpower to persevere and I quickly go back to my old ways.
Last year I managed to break this vicious cycle and get myself on the right track. I can now say I’m half way there to reaching a goal I’ve put in front of me and I can tell you one thing – the first step we all need to take when changing a habit is moderation. Whenever we completely limit ourselves from experiencing things we love, whether that is a few pints of beer, favourite box of chocolates or being attracted to a colleague from work, the desire to have the “forbidden fruit” gets stronger and stronger and almost impossible to overcome. This inevitably ends up with barriers breaking and you find ourselves in a fast food restaurant, holding your fifth burger. Needless to say, this approach never brings lasting results.
You need to change your lifestyle in such a way that you keep getting little treats from time to time. These little moments of satisfaction will reinforce your willpower giving you strength to persist in changing your toxic habits.
Have you been working hard in the gym and have been eating lean for the past week? Give yourself a break and have your favourite treat. Just don’t eat the whole box – have a piece, put the box back on a distant and hard to reach shelf and do something to distract yourself. Limiting yourself completely from eating fast or sugary food is only going to make you want it even more, making your goal much harder to accomplish. The trick is in treating that unhealthy food as a treat – as long as you have it occasionally, in moderation, your health or your training won’t suffer. This strategy will provide you with another benefit. Once you start eating clean, if you persist, you’ll find yourself realising that certain foods you used to like now taste too sweet, too greasy or too salty. You’ll find out that one piece of chocolate actually is enough to satisfy you if you had a big and balanced lunch before that. You will realise that the necessity is only in your head – and you can overcome it.
Instead of partying hard and getting intoxicated with alcohol every week, try drinking responsibly – eat a well-balanced meal before going out and don’t drink more than one alcoholic drink per hour. This way you won’t get very drunk and you can still enjoy the party. Keep in mind, though, that alcohol has a lot of calories and will add a significant amount of energy you need to use up when training. Not to mention the effect alcohol has on your liver.
The secret is in baby steps
We see the goal we want to reach and it looks like the Himalayans in front of us. Even though you do need to keep the top of the mountain in sight so that you don’t forget where you’re going, your laser-like focus needs to be on the step ahead of you. You should make a step-by-step plan on how to get from the base of the mountain to the very top – then you can focus on achieving the first step that will bring you closer to your goal. This way you’ll get to your goal, whatever it may be, without giving up within the first couple of weeks.
First of all, your goals need to be very specific. You want to lose weight? First you must decide how much weight it is that you wish to lose. Then you can make a precise plan on how you will achieve that goal. What kind of exercises you are going to do, how many days a week, for how long… And what you can do to kindle the motivation without beating yourself down.
You want to stop smoking? Make a chart on how many cigarettes you will have in the next few days, a week, a month… And then put a check sign next to each day when you have won a little victory for yourself and your self-esteem.
You want to eat clean? Make a plan. Decide on your cheat meals and plan them strategically so that they reignite your determination to stay on your path, instead of losing all the hard work to one night of binge eating.
No matter what your goal is, this strategy will help you get there. Embrace moderation in your everyday life and remember – baby steps can get you anywhere.