The New Year is a good time to look at where your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to the actions that will make you successful when you choose to change your lifestyle.
In Part 1, we began reviewing the Seven Pillars of Lifestyle Change Success. Here we continue with the final three. These aren’t in any particular order. If you plan to make a significant lifestyle change (and most of us are at least thinking about it at this time of year), I recommend you consider all seven.
Habitual limiting behaviors are similar to limiting beliefs in that the first step is to identify them. If you’re eating a bag of chips in front of the TV every night, and you say you want to lose weight, there’s an incongruity there that needs to be faced. For some, it’s not as obvious. Maybe you need to notice that when you open a bag of chips you can’t just have a few – you eat the whole thing. Perhaps you’re in the habit of overloading your plate, or waiting to eat until you’re very hungry.
If you’re seriously committed to weight loss, observe yourself for a week and write these types of habits down. Be honest with yourself – you need to be on your own side. Then you can identify which of those habits you’re currently prepared to change, and make the absolute decision to do so. It’s not necessary to change every “bad” habit at once. In fact, that may set you up for failure. I suggest that you take on no more than three at a time.
Again, as with limiting beliefs, try to replace the habit you don’t like with an empowering behavior. Place visual reminders of the new behavior you want somewhere where you will see them every day, such as the fridge, or the bathroom mirror. Give a new habit at least a month of daily practice to solidify. Then, if you feel confident that you’ve replaced an old habit with a new one, you can return to your list and choose one more habit you’d like to change.
This lifestyle change is about developing an attitude of optimism and gratitude. It’s about recognizing that we all deal with adversity and problems, and it’s easy to let those become our focus. However, you can make a conscious choice to focus on the half-full part of the cup. You may have to do it by rote at first. Here are four steps you can try:
- Before you get up in the morning, think of one small thing you’re looking forward to during the day.
- Pay someone a compliment, or say something positive to them, every day.
- As you go about your day, notice things you appreciate or are grateful for, or things that are beautiful, and write them down on scraps of paper. When you get home, stick those scraps in a special jar or box. Try to make sure you add at least one gratitude note to your collection every day.
- As you get into bed to go to sleep each night, think of one thing that you’re looking forward to tomorrow. If you can’t think of anything, think of something to add to your schedule that you will look forward to. It can be tiny – but it must be positive.
We’ve already mentioned that it’s important to have support in making any lifestyle change. In an ideal world, you would get the support from your family, your friends, and your colleagues. Unfortunately, you may frequently find that these people don’t support, or even undermine, the change you have decided to make. There can be many reasons for this, and often they do have your best interests in mind – they’re just (consciously or unconsciously) afraid of change. Unfortunately, that doesn’t serve you well.
Once you are aware that your support systems are not as robust as you might like them to be, you can choose to put stronger ones in place. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get rid of your friends. It may mean, for example, that if you wanted to lose weight you would enroll in a medical weight loss program like ours. That way the support you get is systematic, knowledgeable, consistent, and professional.
Other types of resources include skills and knowledge. While they can be evaluated much the same way, the Internet is an amazing resource for addressing deficiencies there. For example, on this website, there are over 100 searchable articles with up-to-date information to help support you in weight loss and lifestyle change.
Implementing the Seven Pillars of Lifestyle Change Success
We are really talking about lifestyle design here. When you are determined to make permanent changes, you have a great deal of power to set things up the way you choose. By reviewing each of the seven areas above and assessing clearly and honestly where you are at, you’ll be in a position to decide on the changes you need to put in place to support any goal.
If that goal is permanent weight loss and healthy lifestyle, you’ll get there faster by giving thought to these areas in advance. There is a great opportunity to acknowledge and overcome weaknesses, and strengthen your odds of success by doing so.