I’m hoping to get this out to you before you decide to torture yourself with a resolution that will be like all the others you’ve tried, and failed. I know it’s not just me that does this. There have been studies done on how people start and fail their New Year’s resolutions. We have something like an 80% or more failure rate. We’re really good at failing, but that’s how we learn.
Let me give a small explanation as to why diets suck and why we fail. Most diets remove all or some of the foods that we’re addicted to. All. At. Once. That’s a really bad idea. The moment we think we can’t have something yummy, gooey, sweet, or salty, is the moment we can’t stop thinking about that food. Sooner or later we snap and binge and give up. We make things too hard and then when we don’t measure up we fall back on old habits. Sometimes creating newer more destructive habits. Then we tell ourselves “I’ve tried every diet and they just don’t work.” In reality we’ve done everything except change our habits.
Enter this year’s (next year’s?) newest health improving idea: Habit Change For A Healthier Lifestyle! Kind of catchy right? No? Okay, I’ll work on it, but the idea is the same. Start with the easiest and newest habits to change and replace it with a healthier option. Once a new habit is in place go to the next “bad” habit and replace or remove it. So simple of an idea, but not so easy to start.
By the way, this is what I work on with my clients. It’s like a personalized habit change process. Unique, sustainable and I hold you accountable, which is helpful.
Anyway. Let’s get back on topic.
Where do you start? Well, what is the most recent habit that you’ve acquired that you know is not good for you? For me, I started putting sweetened creamers in my coffee. At two cups (or more, honestly) this really adds up. It also starts my day off with something sweet and makes me want more sweet things, like a holiday cookie with my coffee. If I can get back to an unsweetened creamer, or start drinking it black, it could really go a long way into kicking my sugar habit. Starting my day off right doesn’t mean I have to be perfect all day, it’s just a start.
Now, I want to prevent the slide into a new habit of rewarding myself for “being so good!” Taking away something in one part of your day only to reward yourself at some other time is like exercising more so you can eat more. Silly human, that’s not how things work.
A side note about exercising: you won’t lose weight by exercising, alone. Exercising will change the shape and tone of your body, improve blood flow, make your heart and body stronger and last longer, but only accounts for about 20% in a weight-loss journey. Exercise helps put people in the right “healthy” state of mind, but, on it’s own, it may not change much. Weight loss is about what you put in your body, not so much what you do to your body. Unless you have liposuction. Doing that to your body does all of the above, but I don’t recommend it.
Back to habit change. Next I want to add a new, healthy habit into my life. Water is usually my go-to addition. There are all sorts of people who will tell you how much to drink, or to only drink when you are thirsty or give you some other contradiction to drinking water. It’s not that hard, folks. It really is just a matter of choosing water first. I have a water container with me all the time. If I’m thirsty I drink, if I’m hungry I try water first then I eat. Water with my meals, with lemon, strawberries, cucumbers, whatever. Adding water in prevents me from having so much room or time for sugary drinks. Total win-win.
So this is the basics of my habit change process. Starting with the easiest habits to remove and adding a better habit. Each habit that you overcome and improve brings you closer to your goals. Step-by-step. You don’t have to hate yourself because you’re not doing everything right now. You are being smarter than the old, tired, broken system of diets and creating a system that works for you. It becomes truly personalized, because only you know what you need to change next. You can leave the scary habit changes till the end, when you feel stronger and more confident in yourself.
My last little piece of information is that it’s okay to screw up. Every moment is a new moment to move on and start over. Screw-ups happen. Shrug your shoulders, say “Well, that happened, but that’s not who I want to be.” and take the steps necessary to move on. Beating yourself up hurts you and helps nothing. I don’t recommend this either.
I hope this helps and I hope you are doing well. If not you are welcome to talk to me about it. Good luck in the new year!