Get Your Head Straight
Yes, the first healthy lifestyle change is actually about your mind, not your body. If you’re emotionally sabotaging your own happiness, you may be causing yourself to fail at more goals than weight loss.
It takes courage to work through stuff from your past and habits that aren’t serving you, but it’s your stuff. Nobody else is making you fail at this point, and whoever you’re blaming is often completely unaware of it, and most likely unaffected. If you are hurting yourself with behaviors that don’t serve you, such as impulse eating, negative self talk, poor self-esteem, unrealistic expectations of yourself or others, it’s time to do something differently since that’s not serving you. Here are some things to try.
- Positive affirmations
- Vision Boards
If that’s not enough to help you shift your thoughts and behaviors in the right direction, consider getting some professional help. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behavior, has had positive results for many people. It doesn’t require exploring, or even identifying the causes of your issues, and it works fairly quickly.
Set Small, Attainable Goals
While it’s important to have goals, it’s also important to make them attainable, especially when you’re trying to make changes in your life. There’s also a mental “trick” to this – having a goal to do one pushup a day, for example, is so attainable that it helps you create an exercise habit that may lead to much more than that one pushup.
The reason people fail to change their lives, and fail to instill new habits, is because they try to do too much at once. In simplest terms, if your new habit requires more willpower than you can muster, you will fail. If your new habit requires less willpower than you can muster, you will succeed.
– Stephen Guise
These mini-habits work well for many people, especially those who tend towards struggling with change. Try one or two (not too many) and see if they work for you.
Figure Out What You Enjoy
It’s worth spending some time considering what healthy things (or at least not-unhealthy ones) you enjoy. This might be a visit to the beach, a movie with a friend, buying yourself flowers, watching a favorite TV show, a trip to the zoo, buying a book by a favorite author… It’s about figuring out what works for the individual that you are. Then make sure you use these things to reward yourself periodically for the positive changes you’re implementing in your life.
Celebrate your achievements – even little ones! Be cautious about food rewards, though. Generally those are best avoided since many of us have bad habits to unlearn in that area.
Improve Your Support System
There are two general ways to improve your support system for healthy lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss (and other desired changes). One to is remove (or limit your exposure to) the negative, discouraging and dis empowering people in your life. The other is to increase the time you spend with positive and encouraging people who are prepared to support you in your desired changes.
You can look for general opportunities to do this, or get specific, such as finding a neighbor who is also working on good health and would enjoy an after-dinner walk with you. Workout buddies, encouraging friends and positive co-workers are treasures to be appreciated and enjoyed. Limit your time with the people who don’t support you.
Clean eating is a major lifestyle change but it will pay off in maintaining weight loss, feeling healthy, and avoiding future medical problems. Once you’ve cleaned the junk out of your house and decided what you choose to eat, it’s helpful to get organized about shopping to eat clean.
Make sure you have your favorite smoothie ingredients, salad makings and fresh fruit on hand, and keep improving the contents of your kitchen cupboards with quality superfoods and slow-carbs such as chia, quinoa and steel-cut oats.
Take a Course
Ideally, since maintaining weight loss is your goal, take a course in something that will assist you. It could be in cooking with fresh, healthy ingredients, if that’s a challenge for you. Of course, courses that teach you how to exercise effectively and enjoy it are perfect. Consider trying an introduction to yoga or Tai Chi if you’ve never experienced them. You might enjoy hiring a personal trainer for a couple of sessions to learn how to do strength training correctly. Perhaps a dance class would be fun. Maybe trying a martial art is more your speed – kickboxing, anyone?
There are so many interesting choices in your own community, and if you don’t enjoy it, you can always try something different.