I remember when I finished watching the series finale of Breaking Bad and I told myself I would never binge watch another series again. I told myself I would only watch one episode per week. Then I watched the first few episodes of Walking Dead and I couldn’t stop. I should have taken a more tactful approach to limiting my Netflix consumption.
I see people run into the same challenges when they start a workout plan. It’s new and exciting and you’re fed up with the way you look and feel. So you’re ready to workout every day. You tell yourself, “I’m gonna workout 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day. And I’m only gonna eat pieces of lettuce and boiled chicken.” Then something comes up and you abandon your workout plan, never to return until you get totally fed up again.
It’s a vicious cycle in an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. You only workout and eat better when you’re fed up and hate yourself. What you need is to love yourself and take a balanced approach that you can maintain without sacrificing yourself and your lifestyle.
When you make the decision to change a behavior and/or form a new habit you will start out extremely motivated, but motivation wears off and reality sets in. So you need to make sure you form sustainable habits.
When you try to change a habit at an unsustainable pace it’s extremely difficult to stay the course when something comes up. If you’re trying to workout 7 days a week but you have to work overtime for an upcoming deadline that will be followed by an office party it’s easy to stray off course.
After you suffer a setback or make a concession and excuse yourself from one of those days of working out it’s easy to make more excuses until you’re back to square one. When things come up you you feel like you can’t get back to the breakneck pace that you set a precedent with. You end up quitting because of how overwhelming it feels to change so much so fast. You feel like since you can’t do 7 days a week you might as well not even try.
- Start slower than you want to.
You may currently workout zero times and eat 20 pieces of bread per week. When you decide to change you may feel like you need to workout out 7 days a week and cut out bread completely. Don’t do that, you’d be setting yourself up for failure. You need to pull the reins in and limit the restrictions you put on yourself.
2. Fix one aspect at a time until it gets easy.
Think about the minimum amount of time you can devote to exercise on the most busy week possible. Think about the minimum amount of bread you think you can have and still enjoy yourself. Start with that number.
You may decide that no mater how busy you got you could workout for 15 minutes a day, two days a week. And you could limit yourself to 2 slices of bread per day. Start with that and once it get’s easy think about the next smallest change you can make. Once that gets easy, make another change.
3. Stay connected to the process.
Don’t just go through the process blindly without reflection. You need to know why you’re succeeding when you do well and why you you struggle with what you are struggling with. Keep a journal of how you feel as you’re making these lifestyle changes. If you know the “why” it will be easier to make good decisions.
4. Reward yourself with positive reinforcement.
Don’t beat yourself up when you slip up. Make sure to give yourself a pat on the back when you do well.
When you want to make a change start out at a sustainable pace. It will be easy to get back on the horse when something comes up. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. And any other cliche you can think of. Just start small and do work!