I hear it almost daily from the women in my life. Utter frustration that they can’t control their eating. They want to work out but can’t find the motivation. Feeling disappointed with how their bodies look. Depriving themselves of a food group, calories, or foods they love.
Women are plain frustrated.
And well they should be.
We are inundated with diet and exercise fads on a regular basis. Others telling us how they lost weight or what worked for them. Promises from exercise programs and diets claiming you can lose 10 pounds in a few days.
As we should know by now, these methods don’t work. Sure, a new exercise program or diet may work for the short term, but let’s be honest, they don’t last.
The problem is, people aren’t being told what DOES work.
People aren’t being told that to make significant health changes, small, manageable changes over time is what adds up, not only to a new lifestyle, but to reaching your goals and maintaining them. We’re being promised a quick fix, but it takes a more significant shift.
So what does work? See below for 4 small steps to shift from a quick fix mentality to a healthy lifestyle.
1) Change your expectations:
I’m sure you don’t want to hear this one, but it’s ESSENTIAL to making a shift. Understand that if weight loss is your goal, the weight didn’t come on overnight, and it won’t come off overnight. Shift away from thinking that diets and quick fixes are the answer, and look at your long term goal, what is that you really want your health and life to look like? Once you shift your perspective and your expectations, and start focusing on the big picture, the urgency to put yourself through the ringer for a few quick pounds lost can melt away.
2) Set small, manageable goals:
Once you’ve changed your expectations, start with one small, manageable goal and work on that. If your big goal is weight loss, determine what it takes to lose weight, for example exercise and eating healthy. Though instead of pledging to hit the gym 5 days this week and cut out all sugar, make small steps. Committing to checking out an exercise class at your gym this week, or researching different exercise outlets that you may enjoy. Look at your current nutrition intake and start by committing to put less sugar in your morning coffee this week. Making goals that are manageable in your currently lifestyle not only makes these goals manageable, but it helps you gain confidence since you are likely to meet them. Over time, these small goals can add up in big ways.
3) Determine possible roadblocks, and how to work around them
Let’s face it, life is unpredictable. Things come up. Big things, such as a car breaking down, and small things such as you feeling tired. Once you determine what your goals are, its essential to identify any possible barriers that may come up. If your goal is to go to the gym once this week, make a list of anything that may come up to derail your plan. Need a babysitter? Too tired after work? No time? I promise, that most of these are, at their base level, excuses. Once you have your list of possible barriers, next to it, write down a workaround. So when the week comes around, and your staring your goal in the face, you know what your plan B is. Which leads me to my next and MOST IMPORTANT step…
4) Make your health a priority
The old adage that if you don’t make time for your health, you’ll have to make time for sickness? It’s true. I used to see it daily working in cardiology. The truth is, it’s not always easy. There, I said it. Making a commitment to your health is essential if you ever want to change. Yes, you can diet, cut out food groups, go crazy with exercise, but the reality is, if you don’t put your health first, life can always get in the way. As I said above, there will always be roadblocks in life, but if your health habits are a priority, the roadblocks disappear. One tip I use with my clients to begin this process is to schedule your exercise for the week on a Sunday. Block this time out in your calendar ahead of time and treat it just like you would an important doctors appointment or meeting with your boss. When something else comes up, these appointments don’t get ‘pushed aside until tomorrow’. If you have a schedule in place and you make it a priority, when something comes up, it will just have to wait, you an appointment with your health.
The above tips are ways to help you incorporate health into your life in small steps. If you work these in over time, then they become our new habits and tend to crowd out the old habits and excuses. think of it as a marathon, not sprints. The failed diets are the sprints, this new lifestyle is a marathon and can lsat you the rest of your life.
Originally published at medium.com