Making Successful Habit Change

How many times have you said to yourself that you will start on Monday, or get back on it after the weekend with the intention of doing a diet overhaul and starting to live the uber healthy lifestyle you are constantly striving for. How many times has that intention become a reality? How many times have you “fallen off the wagon” a few days in or no started at all?

Too often we exist in a cycle where we commit to change without thinking about the practicalities of change or without thinking about how the actual doing of it will feel. We are only focused on the desired outcome that we want we don’t think about what we need to actually do, what behaviour changes we need to make to successfully get there.

There are a few common statements that I ofetn hear from clients when they are talking about change.

1. I’m going to eat healthier
2. I’m going to eat clean
3. I want to cut out the crap
4. I am going to get back on it.

The change intentions may sound familiar but the problem with each one is that they don’t actual mean anything, not really, they don’t give you tangible information of what to do or how you will go about making changes to your habits and behaviours. What does “healthier” really mean, and what does it mean to you? What does “clean eating” actually mean? What is the crap in your diet? And what does getting back on it look like, what are the details of this change?

The reason it is important to understand the details is so that you can be focused on the behavioural changes you will make in your day to day life and not just focus on the outcome you want. Having a healthy diet is an outcome of making lots of consistent choices. Equally focusing on wanting to lose body fat doesn’t mean you lose any, but focusing on not drinking and reducing sugar most likely will.

Recently I have felt that I haven’t been able to properly motivate myself to “get back on it” a phase I will often use as well. We don’t have a holiday booked aboard this year, we have a new puppy and work is really bust it just doesn’t seem as manageable as it has before. I have started to be trapped in that viscous cycle of not feeling happy but also not actually making any change. To get back in control on my training and diet I have gone back to looking at my habits and instead of just telling myself to “get back on it” which is pretty meaningless and not that helpful and seems to be a way of chastising myself for not being on it already, I have looked at the smaller aspects and habits of my day that I actually need to change that will lead me to feeling better.

Habit change process:

1. Look at your week and work through your diet and write down 5 things that if changed would get your closer to your ultimate goal. This doesn’t have to be ascetic based, it could be to get better sleep or feel less stressed.
2. You might identify that you need to improve your breakfast, drink more water, improve your bedtime routine, increase your training frequency. Whatever they are write them down.
3. Then number them from 1-5 , 1 being the one you want to start with, don’t choose the one you least want to do first, it it always helpful to get some momentum before tackling the big changes.
4. When you have got your habit changes numbered start with number 1 right now, not tomorrow, not next week but right now! If it’s to eat less sugar go and throw out the chocolate in your cupboard, if it’s to improve your bedtime routine start thinking about how you will do that tonight or if its to train more plan out your week so that that is achievable or go and train!
5. You are only going to think about number 1 for the next 2 weeks, don’t be tempted to throw in number 2 and 3 because you want results quickly, stick with 1 and only once that habit is truly implemented into your routine should you look to the next change. A successful change doesn’t always feel easy to do but you will be successfully doing it 90% of the time.
6. Your timeline is 10 weeks and although it may feel slow, if at the end of the 10 weeks you have made sustainable lasting changes that you can maintain going forward you will be so much more ahead, in control and happier than if in those 10 weeks you started “back on it” 3 times then gave up without any real progress at all.

So to make sustainable successful change make sure you understand the details of your change, know exactly what you are going to work on. Tackle these changes one at a time and only move on once they have become part of your routine.

To give you a practical example below is my own habit change journey:

1. Improve breakfast and increase quantity- protein and fat focused meal
2. Improve snacks – cut out sugar and choose whole natural foods
3. Hit 5 training sessions a week.
4. Have 2 treat meals/puddings a week.
5. Hit 8 portions of vegetables a day.

For any help or for one to one nutrition suppport please don’t hesitate to contact me.