Many people ask, “Can you fix me?” My answer is, “Define fix.” As I have learned, most people want “a fix” but are not prepared for a lasting lifestyle change. They are prepared for a temporary modification until their goal is reached. The goal could be living pain-free, dropping weight, changing their diet – the list goes on. The challenge is that once the goal is attained, they can’t sustain it. Think back to the last time you decided to, let’s say, give up sweets or sugar. How long did it last? Or maybe you took on a new exercise routine/program. Are you still doing it? If you are, you rock.
How do you get to lasting sustainable lifestyle change?
First, decide this is a lifetime pursuit, not just for the next four weeks or even six months, but the rest of your life. Our brains are wired to produce results. That is why when we write down or say a goal, it is more effective. And if you spend time focusing on it daily, it amazingly comes true. There are exceptions. If you throw doubt in there while you are focusing on it, that can delay and derail it. But bottom line is most people that set their mind to a task and keep taking small steps towards it will attain it. (How Focusing on Superordinate Goals Motivates Broad, Long-Term Goal Pursuit)
So why don’t we keep at it?
Once a goal is achieved, your brain comes in and says “done” and you stop doing all the work towards it. Your brain starts to go back to its old patterns. Our mindset is the first item to work on. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight and I am going to give up sugar,” simply say, “Sugar is the devil, and I will not it eat any more.” Okay may be not so dramatic, but you need to adjust your mindset.
Next step is to address whether your goal is reasonable. If you decide to start exercising for 30 minutes daily and rely on walking outside, but you live in Buffalo, New York or Alaska, this might be a problem. However, if you live in Florida, this could work.
This ties into whether your goal is sustainable. Can you realistically keep this goal up year in and year out without too much trouble? I love to walk outside, because it is good for the body, the soul, and the brain. I don’t tolerate cold …meaning 60 degrees or below. I need to plan for the winter months and decide what I can substitute for my walk. I can do online exercise classes or dance in my living room, which is not very large.
Now to the doing. I like to recommend that you be kind to yourself. Start slow and super easy. Maybe start with five minutes of exercise each day consistently for two to three weeks before adding in more time. When I suggest this to clients, their reply is usually, “But I can do more.” Yes, you can, but can you do more daily without it becoming a burden? It is better to be consistently consistent as opposed to just fitting it in when you can.
Another tool for sustaining a lifestyle change is telling someone and checking in from time to time. One of the largest, easiest secrets to successful, sustainable weight loss is checking in with your coach and tracking progress on the app.
Pick one thing to change – it really is that simple.
You are now ready to pick one thing you want to change for life. Working on one thing at a time will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed and can stay focused on reasonable and sustainable progress.