In a user story I recently wrote, the player said, “Making a lifestyle change is easy. What is difficult is the commitment to follow through with determination”. Rightly so, it’s indeed considered a tall order and hence, many give it up midway. Most consider it forced, rather than a positive change to bring about within themselves.
This very attitude and constant cribbing of people around me prompted me to write this piece on why is it so difficult to make a lifestyle change?
Many of us have tried it at some point in our lives. Some of us have succeeded, while many have found it extremely taxing. Making a lifestyle change is challenging, especially when you want to transform many things at once. Lifestyle changes are a process that takes time and requires support and lots of patience.
Here are a few tips that you could follow from my personal experience:
1. Start Small
After you’ve identified realistic short-term and long-term goals, break them into small steps that are well defined, that can be managed and measured. If your long term goal (6-8 months) is to lose 20 kilos, then a good goal would be to reduce about 2 kilos a month in a healthy way.
Physiologically smaller goals give you a sense that it’s achievable and keep you motivated for the long term goal. Look at healthy eating options. Eat smaller, balanced meals at regular intervals. Replace a dessert with a healthier option, like Yoghurt. At the end of the month, you’ll feel successful knowing you met your goal.
2. Change One Behavior at a Time
It is said that old habits die hard. It is simply because behaviors develop over the course of time. Replacing then will take a while. Focus on one goal at a time. If need be, get professional help to understand what changes you need to bring within yourself to become healthy and fit. The problem arises when you try to change things really fast. Take it slow!
3. Have a Buddy, a Personal Coach or a Trainer
It can be anyone from a friend, to a family member, a co-worker or your personal trainer. Your buddy and you can go for a walk, cycle or run together and keep each other motivated and charged. You can challenge each other to create some excitement in your training and make sure that it is not boring. Having someone with whom you can share your struggles and success makes the work easier and the mission less intimidating.
4. Make a Plan That You Will Stick To
You will have to devise a plan in such a way that it will be your guide. Think out of the box and have things in your plan which you have never done before. For instance, an adventure or sports climbing (artificial wall climbing). But, don’t go haywire and be specific. Manage time well.
Detail the time of the day when you want to exercise, how long you want to exercise or when you can take walks and how long you’ll walk. Maintain a diary in which all your tasks are jotted down and ask yourself if these activities and goals are realistic for you. If not, then start with baby steps.
5. Have Support Around You
Having people around you to support you while you are on your journey will keep you away from slacking. Don’t feel shy to ask for support wherever and whenever needed. If you feel you are unable to meet your goals on your own, get help!
All the above points will help you in your journey to change your lifestyle. But the biggest factor of all and one of the most important factor is being self-motivated. No matter how many buddies you have, no matter what support your dear and near ones will give you, no matter how good a plan you make, none of this will be effective till the time you are self-motivated and want to make the change.
Do it for yourself, do it on your own and feel good at the end of it all!
Making the changes that you want takes time and commitment. You can do it! Just remember that no one is perfect. You will have occasional lapses. Be kind to yourself. When you eat a brownie or skip the gym, don’t give up. Minor bumps on the road to your goals are normal and okay. Resolve to recover and get back on track.