It’s one thing to know in your heart and mind that you want to make changes in your life to lose weight, and it’s another thing to actually get started.
Even when we have a plan and the knowledge of what we need to do, we don’t always find it easy to take action to start the process of change. Often people hesitate moving forward with their plans because it feels like they may lose something in the process, such as a perceived loss of freedom, comfort, or familiarity. That is not a good feeling. And especially when positive changes are intended to make you feel better, not worse, this can be a confusing time. So instead of moving past these fears, it becomes easier to remain complacent and just do nothing.
But of course, staying the same doesn’t let us change and doesn’t afford us the chance to move ahead to what we really want.
So let’s break this down into what you can do right now to get your mindset on track and start getting into the habit of change.
- You must start to establish new habits in order to be able to de-program old ones.
When you think of all you want to change, it can seem very overwhelming and uncomfortable. The best way to combat this is to find small, do-able steps that will give you the satisfaction of success. The more you feel successful, the more satisfied and fulfilled you will feel. Over time, these small changes will add up and will start to crowd out the old, negative habits you are wanting to de-program. Always start with adding a new, positive habit before trying to get rid of the ones you dread saying good-bye to. For example, many people have a habit of evening snacking they desperately want to break and they think that this will be the first thing I will tell them to stop doing – and this often freaks them out because they don’t want to be hungry or lose this comfort. But instead, we start by looking at the opportunities for adding healthy habits that will move them towards their fat loss goals, such as making sure they eat a protein-rich breakfast or they add a serving of veggies to each meal – something small, do-able (for THEM), that will create new, positive habits for permanent success.
- Making changes is creating a series of new habits – it is a process, not a program that starts on Monday.
How many times have you told yourself that you will “start on Monday” or in the new year, or when you feel a bit better about yourself? There is no perfect time to make it happen. And you are not aiming for perfection in your behaviour either. These are two of the most common errors in mindset people make when trying to “start”. It is easy to not feel good enough or that the time just isn’t right. And it’s also easy to not live up to your own expectations once you do start the process of change. Change is not black and white. Once you start, you are not “on” or “off” your plan – you just “are”. The key is to make a habit of learning and growing from your experiences instead of viewing them as your downfall or a personal expression of failure. Your behaviours tell you a story about yourself: what you were feeling, how you responded, and give you a chance to influence your future. This is the process of change. Starting should not feel overwhelming – it should be the act of taking one step in the right direction everyday that points you in the right direction. When you start to wander, it’s not “game over” and “start again”, it’s about keeping going and picking up where you left off. Don’t wait until Monday, you can do it NOW. That is a habit that will – guaranteed – breed success.
- Planning and preparation lead to real results.
You know the saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”….
Change requires our active participation. If you just say, I’m going to exercise 5 times next week so I can lose a couple pounds, you have a great idea but no structure for implementation, so the odds of it becoming a do-able behaviour not just for one week, but for forever, are minimal. Start taking action. Maybe committing to 5 days of exercise is actually not very do-able for you or your schedule. Figure out what IS do-able. Plan to lay out your workout clothes the night before if you plan to get up early. Have a plan for what you will eat before your workout. Consider all the variables and prepare.
If you make the goal to eat veggies at every meal, don’t leave it to chance. Do you have enough fresh veggies in your house to last the week? Are they your favourites? How easy will it be to grab them for a snack? Plan and prepare – go to the grocery store, get what you need, come home and wash and chop them up. Keep them ready in your fridge and put some in bags so you can grab them on your way out the door when needed. Create the environment for the habits you want to breed and take responsibility for your success. No one can do this for you – you CAN do it by starting with what is do-able for YOU and creating series of small steps towards your lasting success.
- Find a mentor or friend to cheer you on.
Making changes is a lot more fun (and manageable) when you have people around you who support you and share the same goals. Find people like that to hang out with. Or hire a coach who can offer appropriate guidance and support on a regular basis. Join an accountability group with other women who share similar goals and struggles. Knowing you are not alone in this process can greatly affect your outcome. Being part of a community of people (online or in real life) helps to drive your desire to and motivation for living the life you really want. When you struggle and feel like giving up, having a friend or mentor (coach) who can put things back into perspective can make a lasting impact on your success.
My best advice about how to make the switch to the fat loss mindset is to pick one thing right now and work on making that thing your habit until you don’t even have to think about it. Trying to do too much all at once is a recipe for frustration and often failure.