Making changes is never easy. No matter how big or how small the changes are, we often think “how hard can it be?”. The answer is, a lot harder than it seems. We human beings are creatures of habit. Habits are very akin to our own comfort blanket and change can be disorientating, confusing and above all scary. When we are at our most vulnerable or emotional, we tend to gravitate towards everything we know and are sure of. Whether that be your favourite chocolate bar, ice cream, Romcom, pub or that person we know just “isn’t good for us”. Change is scary because it is unknown, not tried and tested and has a fair chance of failing.
Furthermore, most of us go for the “all or nothing” approach be it a New Year’s resolution, a Monday or because last night and that party was just one step too far. The hard truth is, trying to change everything all at once, as good as it may feel at first, is only going to set you up for failure.
Honestly, I don’t have a solution which doesn’t involve failure. We in fact need to become more acquainted with failure to really get what we want and know that we really want it. The trick is, to set yourself up for some small steps and some easy wins. Rather than trying to say no to everything, say yes to less.
For example, rather than trying to lose weight by cutting out whole food groups such as fat or carbs, try INCLUDING more vegetables and fruit into your diet for more fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fibre is a Saint for filling you up and keeping your digestive system happy and working well. Vitamins are vital for every single cell in your body and minerals help to keep your bones strong and your muscles stronger. In this way, you aren’t excluding anything and it is a much more positive approach to building that healthy sustainable lifestyle. Most importantly, make this the ONLY thing you focus on until it becomes second nature to you. Focus on one thing at a time and change will fit much more seamlessly into your lifestyle.
Another example. Don’t drink enough water? Then buy yourself a nice swanky “Love Island-esque” (sorry!) colourful water bottle with a known volume, such as 750ml or 1 litre, and make sure you drink minimum 2 of these a day. More often than not, hunger can be confused with dehydration. Keeping yourself topped up with water can ensure this confusion doesn’t happen and you are likely to feel less sluggish and more on the ball for that meeting or business call in the afternoon. Make this the sole thing you do that week and change doesn’t seem as intimidating.
One last example, which can work wonders for weight loss, is trying to work more activity into your day. I do not mean more workouts or fitness classes. I mean walking or cycling to work. Walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift or escalator. Get off the tube/metro or bus a couple of stops early and walk the rest of the way. Have a long phone call planned? If you don’t need to sit at your desk, take it outside and walk around the block or a nearby park as you talk. Equally if you’re having a catch up with a friend or need an informal meeting with a colleague - go outside and walk around then you will both benefit. Lastly, if you have aced the previous habit and you are drinking more water and finding you need the toilet more, don’t go to the toilet on the same floor. Go to the floor above or below you and you have easily stepped up that step count!
Once you have one of these habits nailed, then and only then do you aim for another habit to conquer. If you’re an Excel geek then make a table to help hold yourself accountable and tick off what you achieve that day or that week. Not only does it help accountability but you can look back and see how much you have achieved. There are also plenty of apps to help keep you on track.
You will always have set backs with any changes but it is the consistency over time that is paramount. Patience, managing your expectations and small easy wins with the right support will always get you there. It’s never too late to start now.