You have just left a meeting with your Fitness Practitioner. The two of you have laid out the perfect plan to achieve your fitness goals.
Everything sounds great and you feel pumped to get started. That is, until you get home and begin putting the plan in to action. This is when it really hits home how much more difficult it is to implement the plan than it is to develop it.
Behavior change is HARD. Heck, simply getting kids to brush their teeth, or adults to floss every day, can seem like an insurmountable task. Multiply that struggle 100 times over when talking about changing nutritional and exercise habits.
Below are FIVE tips that should help give you that extra motivation to kick-start your journey to a healthier lifestyle, whether that involves food logging, exercise adherence, or something else entirely.
Many people want to lose weight to “be healthier”, but what exactly does this mean? We all know that carrying excess body fat is unhealthy, but educating oneself even further and having a better understanding of exactly how and why it is unhealthy is a great way to make sure the point hits home. Even better, print off a list of the health benefits you can expect from increased exercise and weight loss and put it in a place where you will see it every day.
Note Your Effects On Others
Considering how we live in a rather self-centered society, it is amazing how reluctant we can be to change behaviors just for our own good. However, if we begin to take notice of the effect we have on those around us, especially loved ones, the importance of changing can be shed in a totally new light. This tip is easily incorporated with the previous one by noting how the negative health consequences of being overweight don’t just affect yourself, but may have an impact on your loved ones as well.
Find Helping Relationships
Doing anything on your own is difficult. Sometimes the support you get from your practitioner alone is not enough. Using friends and family members as sources of accountability and motivation is a wonderful tool for promoting adherence to your plan. Whether this is finding an “exercise buddy”, or simply making your goals public knowledge to others, strive to build a solid support system around yourself. Goals kept private are much less likely to be realized than those that are shared with others.
Create A New Self-Image
Self-efficacy can be defined as the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete specific tasks and reach goals. Believing that you are capable of meeting your goals is paramount to actually realizing them. Changing the way you think about yourself in regards to nutrition and exercise is not a process that will happen overnight, but placing an emphasis on beginning to view yourself as an “exerciser”, or a healthy eater, will go a long way in allowing yourself to reach your goals in the long run. Don’t be your own worst enemy; practice positive self-talk and imagery, and try to rethink the way you associate yourself with exercise and nutrition.
It is human nature to focus on instances where we fall short of our own expectations. Do not allow yourself to do this. It is vital that you recognize your successes and reward yourself for them. Each time you successfully complete a week of food logging, meet your weekly exercise goals, or resist the urge to overeat, mentally congratulate yourself on your good work. Additionally, when you hit larger milestones, such as the long-term goal you set with your practitioner, or the six-week goals we set at every assessment, SHARE the news with friends and family, or better yet, go do something fun to reward yourself!
Take Home Message
Changing behavior is extremely difficult. If it was easy, everyone would exercise five days per week, have a healthy body composition, and I wouldn’t have a job. Hopefully the tips above can help provide some of you with the extra push needed to realize your goals!