Where did the year go? Every December, I ask myself this same question while thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish, but didn’t. Sound familiar?
As I think about my goals, weight loss and improving my general health is at the top of the list. Here I go again. Every year the same goal. Don’t you hate that little voice in your head?
So often we overwhelm ourselves with a goal we really want by expecting too much too soon. Today, I’m sharing 3 tips I’m learning to make health, or other improvements, one step at a time!
1. Make a mind change
A previous co-worker of mine once told me, “Just do something!” No, he wasn’t commenting on my job performance (thankfully!). He’d been on a long weight loss journey and was down about 50 lbs. It had taken him several years to get to this point.
The point my friend made was to refocus on some thing – one thing – rather than overwhelm yourself thinking about the entire journey.
Our self-talk reveals our focus. Here’s a glimpse into mine…
I hate to exercise. Ugh – just the thought of the gym. If only my high school PE teacher hadn’t suckered me into being the track manager. Then maybe I would’ve learned to enjoy exercise. I never got to start my “fitness habit!”
Now you understand why my co-worker friend told me to just do something! Here’s the point: remembering your history or dreading the work ahead just makes you feel overwhelmed which leads to inaction.
We need to change our mindset to change our behaviors. Come up with a mantra to replace those deflating thoughts when they pop up. This is a good way to implement a mindset change. For me, it’s something like “I’m in charge of my health and fitness, and choosing new activities I feel good about.”
2. Make it sustainable
Let’s be honest: I’m not going from a couch potato to running a marathon overnight. But I’m also not going to suddenly work out 5 days a week, cook every meal with perfect proportion and sleep a full 8 hours at night. The goal is to take it one step at a time.
What small change can be made that’s doable? I do like to walk, so that’s where I’ve decided to focus my fitness. But, I don’t have an hour or two each day to walk. This is where my first point, “just do something,” comes into play…
- Have 10 minutes before the next meeting? Take a brisk walk.
- No plans at lunch? Go for a longer walk.
- Need to run an errand? Take time to walk around the store once or twice before picking up what you need. Better yet, quit circling the parking lot 50 times to get a close space. The walk from a distant spot will do you good.
- Home with a sick kid? Walk around the house – house-walking is a new fad! Do steps up and down the fireplace hearth or use a staircase to get your heart-pumping (ignore your kids’ bedrooms and the messy bathroom as you do it)!
- Want to enjoy the holidays with some fun down-time? Go ice skating instead of a movie (or do both)!
This concept is not just for fitness. We can apply it almost anywhere in our lives.
- Short on funds this month? Cut out Starbucks once or twice a week. Skip the mani/pedi or opt for the cheaper version. Shop the weekly sales at the grocery store.
- Need to lower calorie intake? Drink one diet coke a day instead of two - and add more H2O! Find the lower calorie option to your favorite foods.
- House in need of de-cluttering? Pick one area a week. Even if you have only 20 -30 minutes, you can clean out a junk drawer, a few shelves of a bookcase or one part of a closet.
3. Make it a priority
So many times we put a sense of urgency on what we need to do for other people and slack on the goals we desire for ourselves. Part of changing your mind is also making YOUR personal goals a priority. And sometimes, making it a priority takes a little motivation. You have to believe the small steps you’re about to make WILL pay off – if you just do them!
This past year, my work team read the book The Slight Edge. It’s a GREAT encouragement and reminder of how small, intentional choices make a huge impact over the long-haul. When we truly believe this, it’s much easier to make bite-sized steps toward our goals a priority.
Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you want to experience it with joy for the long-term, make your health a priority, choose sustainable actions and then “JUST DO SOMETHING!”
Now it’s your turn! What intentional choice will you put into action? How have you made and sustained healthier habits? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org