As I wrote in my last post when I discussed S.M.A.R.T. Goals, this time of year is the most popular time to set goals and commit to new and positive life changes. In fact, approximately 45% of Americans make new years resolutions. I am all for this. I think taking time to reflect on our lives and figure out how we can be healthier is great. I myself am doing a three week cleanse and abstaining from alcohol, sugar, caffeine, red meat and processed foods to help get my body to a more balanced and healthier state. Changes like these are positive and a great way to ring in the new year with a fresh start.
But many times we approach these changes we want to make the wrong way.
We live in a society that wants immediate results. Gone are the days of carrier pigeons and handwritten correspondence. Today is the era of email, texting, one-click shopping and daily (or hourly, in many cases) delivery. Life is fast-paced and we have grown to expect fast response, from ourselves and from others.
This translates over to our goals as well. Let’s face it, we aren’t a very patient bunch. When we want change, we want it now. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the weight loss and diet industries. Somewhere along the way we were convinced that finding optimum health and reaching weight loss goals was as simple as taking this pill, ordering this meal delivery service or skipping breakfast. Doing two-a-days at the gym or doing a juice cleanse.
But I ask you this – how are any of these things sustainable? What will happen when you get so exhausted that you can’t keep on waking up for that early morning workout or simply lunge for that box of cookies in the break room at work because you are so incredibly hungry after skipping breakfast. What will happen when you stop ordering the meal delivery service because you are tired to eating frozen meals out of a carton for dinner every night?
That’s right, you gain it all back. And that really stinks. It makes me sad to think about all of the people I talk to or hear about who have been on this never-ending cycle of ups and downs. Chances are you have (or still are) on this path or know someone who is.
Approximately 73% of those people who make resolutions give up before meeting their goal. Lofty goals are not sustainable and lead to heartache and a feeling of failure. Granted, social media and pop culture don’t make it very easy for us. We are enticed by stories for regular people just like us who lost 80 pounds and now feel the best they have ever felt. We see pictures of celebrities plastered on magazines and on TV looking all glammed up and fabulous and want to be just like them.
Since regular life isn’t like The Biggest Loser or Keeping Up With the Kardashians, what can we do?
Well, how about baby steps? Let’s start with making one or maybe two changes at a time. One to two changes that don’t take us too far away from our daily life. In fact, the easier these changes can be made part of your daily routine, the better our chance of success. Once these changes are mastered and fully assimilated into your daily life, let’s think of one to two more changes to tackle.
Picture a line of dominos. The first domino is your first change and the last is your end goal. First you start with one domino, tackle it and master it. Your success helps drive you to tackle domino number two. On and on you go until you reach your final domino. Of course the entire process takes a lot longer than it does to knock over dominos, but you get the picture.
Everyone’s small changes are going to be different because we are all have different lives. Let’s say you don’t work out at all. Maybe your one small change can be taking a 15 minute walk a few days a week. Or maybe you are a big soda drinker. Maybe your one small change can be limiting yourself to 1 soda a day and substituting flavored water for the others. Or maybe you eat primarily processed foods. Maybe your one small change can be eating an apple a day.
Instead of going from no exercise routine to the gym 5 days a week, meet yourself where you currently are. Take the stairs one step at a time instead of trying to hop directly to the top, because you are guaranteed to fall when you try that.
If you want to lose 20 pounds, take it one day at a time. What is one small change you can make to your diet every day? Maybe it’s eating something small for breakfast instead of skipping it altogether. Maybe it’s eating a piece of fruit after dinner instead of dessert. Or maybe it’s only having one dessert a day instead of two.
Let’s face it, change isn’t easy. And I’m certainly not implying here that make one small change at a time is going to be a cakewalk. Any change is tough, no matter how big or small. What I am saying is that small changes over time give you a better shot at reaching your goal and maintaining that goal for a length of time. They are more realistic, more sustainable. They are S.M.A.R.T..
And one day you might slip up and not go to the gym as you planned or eat a bunch of cookies. That’s okay. One step backward, two steps forward. Take time to sit and think about your goal and how far you have come. Re-motivate yourself again. Pick up and keep on moving forward. Mistakes are how we learn.
What is one small change you can make today to bring you closer to your goal?
Peace, love and baby steps,