I hear you:
After the year that was 2021, you want to make some serious changes to help you become the “new you” for a successful 2022.
But only a few weeks into the new year, you’ve somehow, fallen back into old habits and wondering what went wrong.
Don’t you worry, you’re not alone.
Research shows that over 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t continue applying the changes past February.
If that many people lose their resolve that quickly, there’s nothing wrong with you. The problem is in the tradition itself, so I’ll share some tips with you on how you can make long term changes.
Firstly take small daily actions
The Romans didn’t build Rome in one day (I also love the T.Shirt slogan that “Oprah wasn’t built in a day!). So it goes without saying that trying to instantly change habits that have been part of your life for years won’t be a walk in the park.
I’ll be real with you.
I don’t want you to invest your time, money and emotions in something that will not work, so here’s the truth.
In habit formation science there are 4 steps to developing a habit. All four steps (cue, desire, action and reward) need to occur in that order for the habit to stick. Weaken any of the steps and the habit is less likely to occur. If the action requires too much effort or energy, then it is unlikely to be sustained.
And that leads to one thing; going back to the very same behaviour or routines that you’re running away from.
So have a plan in place which includes setting small steps.
For instance, if you want to start eating healthier, do not jump straight into fad diets. Lots of scientific studies prove that they are not a permanent solution for weight loss (with a less than 5% success rate they keep the billion dollar weight loss industry churning!).
They subject your body to unhealthy wear and tear. They will only work in the short term (while you stick to these crazy diets, but the pounds will start creeping back in the long run – they may even start coming back in the short term if most of the “loss” was from water weight.
So what works?
Start by making small simple swaps to your diet. For example cutting down on 2 pints of beer a day will result in 0.5 kg (1 pound) of weight loss a week if you make no other changes. Include more non-starchy vegies to help keep you full such as salad, shredded cabbage, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber etc. Munch on vegie sticks with protein e.g. hummus and fruit like berries or apples.
Focus on one major dietary change each week if you have a history of finding it hard to stick to eating healthy. Try and identify what went wrong in the past – did you go to the extreme? Do you not like the taste of vegetables? Do you need to learn some more recipes and cooking techniques or even get home delivered healthy meals as an option?
The point is to make small increments, and eventually, your body will adapt.
If you can’t imagine doing this exercise or eating this way in one or two years time then maybe it’s too extreme and you need to start with something easier. Examples include cutting down (or out) sugar and milk in teas and coffee, having vegie sticks and hummus for a snack, having extra vegies at lunch and dinner and having fruit and yogurt for dessert. That is the easiest way to create habits that will be long term rather than short-lived ones.
Adjust your mindset
Most people don’t follow through with plans because they don’t prepare their minds adequately. Being a change make is no easy feat.
Tell your brain that making a switch from a life you’re already used to will be challenging. Tell yourself that you are choosing this new behaviour. It has taken time for your neural paths (habits) to form – the good news is your brain is constantly reviewing, trimming and making new connections (neuroplasticity) so keep repeating these tiny, easy and action-orientated steps to strengthen the neural pathways and eventually become a habit.
You can help this process by building a new habit onto an established habit (e.g. doing squats while brushing your teeth, taking a walk with your morning coffee, doing some stationary bike riding when watching T.V. and having a glass of water after going to the toilet.
Always keep your end goal in mind.
You need to make changes to make your life better, whether it’s about your health, career or finances, right?
So never forget “the why.”
Always keep the end goal in mind and think about it every time you feel like discontinuing the journey. That will give you the focus that you need to kick the bad habits out of your life.
Don’t be part of the statistics showing most people fail to implement their plan to make changes. Creating habits works better than doing it for short term gains.
Make small steps, don’t wait for a specific time to start and always keep the end goal in mind. That will help you become a better version of yourself that will stay with you for good.
Please feel free to book a free health check call if you’d like to know more.
Book a Free 10 Minute Call With Dr Liz
Your health is your best asset!