It’s funny, whenever someone has success in terms of changing their lifestyle around to be healthier, people who haven’t made the change will tell them…
“Well it is easier for you.”
Can I just say right now…”HOW COULD IT BE EASIER!?!?!”
Any time you break a habit, any time you make a lifestyle change it isn’t going to be easier.
I mean think about all the changes you’ve had to make to your habits over the years. Where any of them really EASY?
I can tell you your parents didn’t think potty training you was easy. Or getting you to stop carrying around the blanket EVERYWHERE you went was easy.
I can tell you my Mom didn’t have an easy time of breaking me of my thumb-sucking habit. She had to coax and reward and take it step by step. And sometimes I had good days and sometimes I had bad days. But slowly the good days won out and I stopped (My desire for the present at the end became greater than my desire to suck my thumb!).
But even something as simple as breaking the habit of sucking my thumb wasn’t easy.
No lifestyle changes are ever easy for anyone.
Habits are hard to break.
There is no magic pill – no key to instant success.
No one is really more gifted when it comes to making a change.
It is all hard work and determination. It is determination that supersedes any other immediate desires.
Changing to a healthy lifestyle isn’t ever easy, especially when you are making the actual CHANGE.
In fact most people will tell you about all the sacrifices they had to make and all the times they wanted to give up BEFORE the change became habit.
So let’s face it. Change is never easy. There is no secret out there or gifted person that didn’t struggle when breaking bad habits.
Honestly, I think that people say “It was easier for you” to let themselves off the hook and to try to make you feel a little less proud of your accomplishment.
It isn’t really that they thought it was easier for you….They are just excusing their own failures.
Sorry, but really, if you think about it, you know this is true.
Because we all know change isn’t easy.
The key is just setting your mind to the change and deciding that nothing is going to derail you.
I write a lot about having a powerful WHY when it comes to creating change.
That powerful reason WHY is what makes your change seem so seamless, so “easy,” to other people.
When you want something bad enough, you are going to make it happen.
Every day won’t be perfect. There will be “slip ups” and missed workouts and cheat meals, but perfection isn’t necessary.
Small forward progress over the days, weeks, months is what will add up. Staying focused on your end goal is what will matter.
Having a powerful WHY, knowing a really motivational, emotional reason why you want to accomplish something, is what will keep you motivated, but it is only a small part of success.
Here is what I tell my clients that helps them succeed even when the going gets tough.
1. Write down your WHY – Write down a powerful, emotional reason why you want something. Just saying “I want to lose 10lbs” or “I want to look good in my bikini this summer” probably isn’t going to be enough. Tap into your emotions. Dig for something important that will not only motivate you to get started, but will keep you motivated when things get hard (which they probably will).
2. Write down a WHEN – Set a deadline. Set multiple deadlines in fact. Set short-term goals with dates when they have to be completed. Deadlines are motivating. And when they are written down they are more solid and we are way more likely to want to achieve them because we can’t weasel out of them. Make the deadline important. Don’t just choose an arbitrary date. Yes, if you are making a lifestyle change, you want it to be FOREVER, but you have to have specific dates when certain things will be accomplished. Because trust me….people do better with END DATES.
3. PLAN, PLAN and oh yea….PLAN – You don’t have to write out exactly what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it. You don’t have to map out your workouts and the weights you are going to use for the next year, but PLAN AHEAD. We each have triggers that set off old bad habits. Know those triggers and lay out a plan with how you are going to deal with them. For instance, ladies…many of us crave crap around our periods. Plan out how you are going to deal with that. Do you have “cleaner” treats available? Do you plan in a couple cheats then? What is your plan of action? Know what sets you off and plan for it. (Sorry dudes reading this). Developing new habits is about breaking the old ones and a big part of that is PLANNING AHEAD so when the moment arises we know how we are going to change our old patterns. Because trust me, trying to fight against old desires in the moment when you have no plan of attack isn’t easy.
4. Know yourself – Take a look at your current habits. Take a look at what has made you fail in the past. Now take a look at what you’ve enjoyed and haven’t enjoyed with other failed experiments, other times you’ve tried to make a lifestyle change. If you don’t like running, don’t force yourself to run every day. If you don’t like lifting weights, don’t force yourself to lift every day. Find things you enjoy to be active and then on occasion add in those things you “know you should be doing.” If you know that you just can’t go to bed without dessert, figure out a healthy treat that satisfies you. If you know that having that “all or nothing” attitude will lead to you failing, DON’T DO IT! Make small changes over time. You know yourself. You know what you like and what you don’t like. Account for those things and then do number 3 and PLAN FOR THEM!
5. Celebrate small success – Lose half a pound? Avoid eating that brownie at work even though you really really wanted it but you knew it would just throw off the rest of your week? CELEBRATE IT! Give yourself recognition for changing. Give yourself credit for breaking a bad habit or moving even just the teensiest bit closer to your goal. Too often people get so focused on their long-term goal that they don’t recognize all the great things that they are doing day in and day out. And that focus on the long-term goal, and them not being there yet, can lead to them getting discouraged and feeling like they are failing. When they aren’t! Because those small things that they are doing day in and day out will add up to one very large success. They just have to be patient! You have to get rid of that NOW NOW NOW attitude and celebrate your small victories!
6. Don’t seek perfection – Sorry none of us are perfect. And life and achieving our goals, isn’t about perfection. It is about small forward progress over the weeks, months and even years. It is about NOT being hard on yourself when you slip up. It is about NOT expecting yourself to be perfect. Because when we expect perfection, when we come down on ourselves for one little mistake, that is when we derail all the progress we have made. If you have a cookie or miss a workout, don’t tell yourself your day is ruined. Don’t just give up. Accept that you may just have needed that little deviation and then get right back on track. It isn’t the slip ups that matter, it is how we handle them that has lasting results. One slip up won’t add up but letting that turn into a downward spiral will. Give yourself some room to make mistake and to have “life get in the way.” Because guess what? IT WILL! I even recommend that clients account for plateaus and backslides in their goals. Set a deadline that allows you to not be perfect day in and day out because it just won’t happen. That doesn’t mean you give yourself double the time to accomplish something, but it does mean that you don’t expect yourself to never deviate from the plan.
7. Include others – Many people are embarrassed about being on a diet or a specific workout program. They are afraid to admit their goals to others for fear of being judged. They are also afraid to admit their goals because what if they fail? Stop being afraid of failure AND stop worry about being judged. Find some supportive friends and family and tell them what you want to accomplish. Having other people know your goals makes you a bazillion times less likely to fail especially if you choose people who are supportive. They will hold you accountable and that fear of embarrassment if you fail will be a strong motivator (sorry but its true…may as well use it to our advantage!). Plus if you get others involved, they may just end up working out with you, which could be fun! Or they may help you find new ways to commit to your goals that you didn’t even think of. We all bring something different to the table and being able to talk to other people can really help. They may have experienced some of the same problems and have great ways to get through!
8. Don’t isolate yourself – Many people on a “diet” feel like they can’t go hang out with friends and be social. But that just isn’t true. You can plan in days to go out and have those be cheat days. Or you can PLAN AHEAD (#3!) and take a look at the restaurant you are going to and know the healthy options. You can even suggest places to go that won’t tempt you to break your diet. AND not every social gathering has to revolve around food! I love going bowling with friends. Or what about hiking or a movie or a dance class? There are lots of fun active things you can do to be social. You don’t have to be a hermit when you are making a lifestyle change. And actually if you force yourself to be one when you aren’t one, you are most likely going to fail. It’s as simple as that.
9. Don’t worry about what others are doing or thinking – Too often we get caught up in what other people are doing or thinking. And honestly, you just can’t worry about that. We can’t compare our progress to our friend’s. Just because their diet is working for them doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can’t get down on yourself just because your progress is slower. Progress is progress PERIOD. And on top of that you can’t care about the people who will put you down because you are making progress when they aren’t. Who cares if someone thinks you are psycho because you have to go to your workout class every day and you love bragging about how hard the workout was? Seriously who cares what they think if you are happy with your new habits? Ever occur to you that most of the negative crap that comes out of people’s mouths is because they are JEALOUS? Don’t worry about your friend’s diet or what they think of yours. If you feel good, if you are moving forward, focus on YOURSELF.
10. Track your progress – This links back to celebrating the small success and having deadlines. Actually this one really ties everything together. There is nothing more motivating than progress. There is nothing like progress to keep us on track. So figure out ways to track how you are doing. Goals don’t only have to revolve around weight loss or even how much you lifted. Weeks where you just stuck to your program should be measured and tracked and treated as progress. Set up a few different goals to measure and track them weekly, monthly and yearly. And then celebrate those successes. And while tracking our progress can help us see how far we’ve come, it can also tell us when we need a change. If you track your workouts, you will be able to clearly see if you’ve hit a plateau and need a change. If we aren’t moving forward, we may need to change something. If we haven’t tracked what we are doing, how will we know if we need a change! Tracking can help keep us moving forward!
Now thinking about all this, I still stand firm in the fact that change isn’t really “easier” for any one person.
But you know what….let people go ahead and think that! Be proud of your success and don’t let anyone take away from it! Know that all of your hard work paid off!
NOTE: Thank you Shannon. This post was inspired by your emails. You are an amazing, strong woman and an inspiration to us all!