Have you ever set out to lose weight... eating healthier, exercising, and workout hard to do All The Right Things, only to find yourself frustrated, discouraged, and overwhelmed within a few months, or worse weeks?
You're not alone, I hear it all the time. So many of the women I work with come to me after having tried (often multiple times), to figure out how to create AND then maintain healthy habits so that they can confidently take steps to reach their weight loss goals.
Because let's face it, you can' see results if you constantly struggle to stick to your healthy habits plan.
Good news! I've got four simple tips to help you create healthy habits that stick, so that you can work smarter, not harder.
1. Commit or pay the penalty.
Once you commit to a plan of action there should be some sort of consequence for not following through, making you less likely to repeat the offense again. For example, if you commit to a 3x a week fitness routine then mark those days down on your calendar with specifics (i.e., gym time Monday-Wednesday-Friday from 12-1pm or meet with my personal trainer Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5pm and go for a run or bike ride on Saturday afternoon). If something comes up you stick to your commitment or reschedule it so it still occurs during that week, not bailing all together.
Should you forgo your commitment completely, there should be a consequence for that choice. Perhaps you will need to give up doing something you were looking forward to because you didn't follow through on your original commitment. Examples might include forgoing happy hour with friends in order to get in a sweat session, saying no to the pastry you were looking forward to having with your coffee on Friday, passing on the after dinner treat or glass of wine. The goal is to make the penalty of failing to follow through meaningful enough that it will ensure you won't want to miss out again!
2. Establish accountability.
Recruiting a friend, family member or co-worker to join you or utilizing the support of an online community can help you honor your commitment. How? When no one knows what your goal is or how you plan to achieve it, well it’s pretty easy to let it slide. For example if you sign up for a fitness class with a friend, family member or co-worker and you don’t show up, not only are you letting yourself down, but someone else too… and that never feels good.
Step 2: have some sort of actionable consequence for not showing up (aside from the feeling bad or lecture you might get from your friend), such as having to buy the other person’s lunch or gifting them a gift card for their morning coffee or a few downloads on iTunes. Now you have a real and actionable “pay up” consequence when you don’t follow through on your commitment.
3. Don’t delay, pay up today!
So you missed the mark and you feel bad about it. There is no better time than the present to own it and pay up! Don't let more than 24-48 hours go without making good on your promise if you fall short of your commitment, making it that much more meaningful to you and anyone else affected. In other words if you didn’t make it to class with your co-worker, then tell her you are buying lunch tomorrow, or if you didn't make it the gym today then you pass on the vino or dessert tonight. Having an immediate consequence for the action empowers your ability to stay on track and honor your commitments, making it less likely you'll repeat the offense again.
4. Stay positive and be realistic.
Listen there is a big difference between making excuses and real emergencies. If you get in a car accident or have a sick kiddo at home that is much different than pulling the "I am too tired," or "I forgot my gym clothes," excuse. It is also important to ensure the bar is not being set so high that you will be consistently be challenged to reach it. For example, for someone just beginning an exercise program committing to 2x a week is probably more realistic than committing to 5. It's always best to start with small, manageable chunks and in ways that set your up for success because that builds confidence, which reinforces motivation and those things will keep you moving forward with an I CAN attitude.
And it's a good idea to periodically re-evaluate your needs and goals. If you start to find yourself routinely falling short on commitment(s) then it may be time to revise the plan. Perhaps has the season has changed, work is more demanding or you suddenly have more on your plate than you did when you first started. It's ok to evaluate and revise the plan so that it will best work with your needs and goals. Not only is it better for your psyche, it eliminates the all or nothing trap that often leads to frustration and burnout.
Bottom line - health and fitness goals takes time to achieve and it is normal to have stumbles along the way. Setting yourself up for long term success with the help of accountability and support and keeping a positive mindset can make all the difference! When you establish health and fitness goals, take a moment to decide how you will hold yourself accountable - what is the consequence for not following through? If you find you are routinely struggling and falling short it may be time to asses how realistic the goal is for your current lifestyle needs and abilities and do some fine tuning. Healthy living is not an all or nothing approach, we often have to adjust and make room as life changes, re-establish goals, explore new approaches, and re-energize our motivation to keep us moving forward!
Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight and become the best version of you? I’ve got you friend! Come join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy. It's for busy women like you who are ready to lose weight, gain energy, get healthy and fit -- without restrictive diets or punishing food rules.