Five tips for making a lasting and positive change
Around 45% of people make at least one new years resolution each year, around a third of which are health related and around half of which last less than two months. Changing our lifestyle is especially challenging as it involves transforming so many things at once. There is no way that we can stop everything else whilst we make the changes, we still need to go to work, to have time with our friends and family and they may actually resist the changes we want to make.
Lots of research has been done on making healthy changes and one thing that they all agree on is the importance of planning – careful planning, outlining where we want to be, setting small measurable goals and deciding the small steps to take towards them.
Making a realistic plan – Your plan is the map which will allow you to make your journey. When making your plan it is important to be specific. If you want to change your diet or exercise more, you must detail how and when. You should write your aims down and ask yourself if you are confident that they are realistic. If even you have doubts that you can do them them, you need to start with smaller steps. Ideally you should post your plan where you will see it as a reminder of what you are going to do. This need not be the whole plan but a picture or saying that reminds you of the plan.
Start small – After you have identified realistic short-term and long-term goals, break down your goals into small manageable steps that are specifically defined and can be measured. If it is your long-term goal to lose X pounds in the next X months, you need to calculate a weekly goal. If you would like to eat healthier, consider goals like replacing puddings with healthier options like fruit or yoghurt and taking your lunch to work. If goals are short term and realistic you will not feel daunted and will feel successful as you reach each goal.
Change one behavior at a time – Unhealthy behaviours develop over the course of time replacing them will also take time. Most people who want to change come unstuck as they try and change too much too fast. As each new healthy behaviour becomes habit, then is the time to try and add another small change, that moves you toward your over all goal. You must never be too hard on yourself, as everyone will have lapses. When this happens it is important to shake it off and then go back to the steps you need to take to reach the goal.
Develop a support network – whether it’s a friend, work colleague, your children or your partner, having the support of someone else has been found to increase your chances of reaching your goals. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with, makes change easier.
Professional support – It is possible that you will not feel able to reach your goals on your own. Getting professional advice and support can be the key to making any sort of behavioural change. There are a large number of different forms this support may take, from consulting a nutritionalist or seeking medical advice to looking for a mentor or specialist coach. If you think you would like extra support please contact me and even if I cant help there, is a good chance I can point you in the right direction. Larder and Gym offer one-to-one, group and email sessions, where you can discuss your worries and work on ways in which your goals can be met.