I know. That’s not what you want to hear. Small changes lead to big ones. So, let me ask you this: Have your grandiose, life-altering, 180 degree changes in the past lead you to your ultimate goals? I’m thinking, probably not. Humor me; read on and see if maybe a few changes can be lasting changes.
When the beginning of a new year comes along, there’s an itch to start it off right. Eating “clean”, working out every day, cutting out alcohol. As if how you’ve been living up to the new year has been so awful, it’s time to punish yourself with HEALTH. I’d love it if this year you realize that it doesn’t need to be that way year in and year out. That you can exercise and eat well enough to support your goals and your social life; and that when 2017 comes around, it’s just another year of excitement and growth. But, if you are still riding the 2016 health train, let’s just start with that.
Take a snapshot of the things you’d like to accomplish right now and then break them down. Once you break them down, recognize what your barriers have been in the past, what obstacles you may still face, and be realistic in your ability to handle them at this point in your life. Here’s a typical example of what comes my way and how we handle it:
“Jess. I want to lose the 20 pounds I’ve kept on over the last 7 years since my son was born. No more take-out, snacking or wine every night. I’m going to the gym every day and taking classes. Which ones are the best? I want to tone my arms and get my endurance back. No more ice cream. No more wine. No more chicken parm. It’s oatmeal for breakfast, salads for lunch and chicken for dinner.”
I promise. You. Will. Fail. Is it that you are not capable of succeeding? It’s not that at all. It’s that you think in order to get “the body of your dreams” you need to remove happiness. After all; wine, pizza and chicken parm are happiness. You’ve already decided what things are bad (food) and what are good (exercise) and that in order to do “good”, you need to stop “being bad.” I’ve never heard so many adult women refer to themselves as “being bad” before in my life. “Oh, Jess… this weekend I was so bad. I had cookies and then we finished a bottle of wine and I hit the snooze button instead of going to spin.” The problem there is that you think of food as sinful and spin as punishment. You skipped spin so you didn’t get to punish yourself for your Friday night sins. Enough with good and bad. Enough with rewarding and punishing. You need to live your life and that will include cake and that will include wine and that may even include spin. But they all are life.
Let’s take a step back to the quotable changes above. I fully support any client who has goals, but it’s my job to coach them in a way that will make them successful. So, here’s how we’ll handle it:
- 20 pounds. Why exactly 20? When is the last time you’ve weighed 20 pounds less than now? Pre-baby? College? High school? Let’s worry less about 20 and simply focus on 5. Then we’ll put a date on it. 5 pounds in 4-6 weeks. Totally doable.
- Take-out, snacking and wine. Well, you need to eat. Quite frankly, you may need to drink. But, do we need to do it all the time? Nah. Doubt it. So, how about this? If you are getting take-out 3 times per week, for the next 4 weeks, get it twice a week instead. That means that while you got take-out 12 times last month, you’ll only be getting take-out 8 times this month. While you’re at it, try to focus on an awesome slab of protein with a ton of veggies every other order. As for snacks; you need them! But, if you start writing down ONLY your snacks, you’ll realize over the course of the month whether you are eating them out of boredom or necessity. Wine? Keep it for the weekends for the next month. You’ll live, I promise.
- Skipping spin is okay if you don’t like spin. In fact, if you are skipping spin on the weekends you probably shouldn’t spin. Weekend workouts should be something you enjoy, something that gives you “you-time”, something that you don’t have time for during the week. You shouldn’t need Saturday spin because you think it burns all of Friday night’s calories. Saturday morning yoga is a pleasure for me because I don’t get to yoga during the week, I’m in no rush to get there and no rush to leave. For 90 minutes of an entire weekend, I get to be purely selfish.
So, NOW what? Ignore your 20 pound goal and use the next month for the following:
- Lose 5 pounds in 4-6 weeks
- Get take-out 1 less time per week; focus on a little more protein and veggies
- Jot down snacks to understand some patterns
- Only workout on the weekend if it’s something you enjoy
What’s probably going to happen is if you do #2-#4 for an entire month, #1 just organically happens. Did you punish yourself? No. Did you withhold happiness? No. Did you survive? Yes. Will it make you feel like reaching a few more goals? Yes.
I’d call that success, wouldn’t you?