Change, the word itself strikes fear or anticipation into the hearts of people. If you lose your job and suddenly have to find another one, it could be very scary. Or if you hate your job and get an offer for a better one with better pay, it could be exciting. Choosing to make a lifestyle change (in this case a healthy lifestyle change), is more often than not a scary and uncomfortable process. But why? Why is it so hard to even start?
We Make It Hard On Ourselves
Lasting lifestyle change is almost never easy, and more often than not, we make it harder than it needs to be. Humans are creatures of habit and comfort, and going through a lifestyle change takes both of those and throws them right out of the window! Old habits need to change and going outside of your comfort zone is guaranteed. Let’s look at a few of the ways we make it harder than it has to be.
First, before we even take a step toward change, we nearly sabotage our efforts by thinking negatively about what we are about to do. Maybe you have tried to change in the past and failed, taking your confidence away so that you already think you probably can’t do it. Or maybe you grew up in the military, changing homes, schools, and friends every couple of years, and grew to hate change.
It could be a variety of reasons, but you view the changes you are about to make and the process you are about to go through makes a world of difference right from the start. It can very well determine if you succeed or fail before you even begin.
With that being said, you cannot let past negative emotions of failures or events get in the way or be the fuel for the change you are about to make. You may find the Devil will throw everything at you, especially if you are going to be making a change for the better (which I assume you are), bringing up every past mistake, failure, or comment made, and whisper them into your ear repeatedly. The more you hear something, the more likely you are to believe it and accept it as truth. Put an end to that negative talk and kick the devil back to where he belongs!
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
If negative thoughts aren’t getting in your way, and you are excited about getting started, then biting off more than you can chew is most likely going to be your next hurdle. I am extremely guilty of this one myself! So many times people will make a plan, and begin saying “I am going to start eating only vegetables, cut my calories to 1000 per day and walk three miles each and every day until I reach my goal!” only to crash and burn after day two.
It’s not that they weren’t motivated or lacked willpower (we will get to that in a sec!), they just failed to realize that each one of those things that were mentioned was a lifestyle change in itself! If you are wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change, and begin eating healthy and exercising, you cannot go all out in all areas! Your body will not be able to handle it mentally or physically, and you drastically increase your chances of failure. Realize that changing your eating habits is one change, beginning to exercise and doing it regularly is a separate change, and fitting these new things into your current schedule is yet another. You are trying to eat an elephant by cramming it into your mouth and choke it down!
I said I would get back to willpower and I want to comment on that a moment. So many people avoid a healthy lifestyle change by stating “I just don’t have the willpower.” and I say that is BS! Willpower is defined in the dictionary as “control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.” And the example they give is “most of our bad habits are due to laziness or lack of willpower” Isn’t that encouraging? They even state that your current state is due to a lack of willpower and LAZINESS! I say they can take that and shove it!
Willpower is about willing yourself to succeed, rather than setting realistic goals, making a sensible plan over a reasonable time period, and starting out small, ensuring small successes early on and large ones over time. There are way more failures who tried to rely solely on willpower than successes. Willpower should NOT be part of your plan.
Underestimate What It Takes
This is another big one that can lead to not reaching your goals. We all see beautiful celebrities and athletes in magazines, online, and in movies and TV. The great smile, perfect tan, and great bodies are all the end result. We do not see what it took for them to look that way or how long it took them. Granted, there are some, especially celebrities that get their results solely from surgery, but even the ones who work for it have a team of chefs to cook them the right foods every meal, trainers to walk them through the process, and the best facilities available.
What about you and me? The average person with a 40+ hour per week job, kids to take care of, have to cook, and do everything ourselves with whatever we can afford? Well, I have great news for you! It can still be done, but unfortunately, it may be a bit harder and take a bit longer. I am not taking anything away from those who train to get their results, because it takes hard work and dedication, even if they are taking steroids. On a quick side note, taking steroids alone does not do anything for you, you still have to work your ass off to get results. They just cut the time down a bit.
Many of us are all excited and ready to go until we talk to a trainer, do some research, or watch a DVD, then it’s like “I gotta do what?!!” Yes, you will have to work hard, be focused, and most importantly, be consistent to reach your goals and successfully make your healthy lifestyle change, but you can do it!
It’s Okay To Fail, Because You Will.
Now before you start wondering, I have all of the confidence in the world that you can make all of the changes you need, I am just saying that many people never consider the fact that they will fall off of the wagon, or the scale will go up and not down during this journey. I do not want you to be one of the “pie in the sky” types that think everything is going to go smoothly.
Remember, we are talking about healthy lifestyle changes here, so what happens if you are doing great for weeks and you get invited to a family dinner or wedding? Are you not going to go? Are you going to go and just eat the salad and not eat any of the other delicious foods that are being served? This is my opinion on this problem…….don’t make it a problem!
Just because you are changing your lifestyle, you still have to live life and that includes socializing and attending social events, being in situations where you have to make some decisions. It is actually a good thing and is a chance for you to build self-discipline, wisdom and confidence by making wise choices that may not be perfect, but the least damaging. Do you want a piece of that wedding cake? Go ahead and have it!! Just make it a small slice, and you may even find that it is too sweet for you to eat!
Even if you were to overindulge and the scale went up the following morning, did you die? Did the sun still rise? Life is not going to end and don’t beat yourself up over it. Recognize what happened and why, how to do better next time, and file it away as a reference. You then just continue moving forward with your plan. Remember, a lifestyle change is a journey, not a sprint or race, and definitely not an overnight thing.
Getting into bad shape and poor health did not happen after one gluttonous meal or evening, it was a slow slide into poor health. You probably didn’t notice it was even happening or how far you slid until you looked in the mirror one day and said “Whoa! Enough is enough!” That is what got you here. If it didn’t happen overnight, why would you expect it to come off or be where you want it to be overnight? Patience, you can do this, you will have ups and downs, but you will get there, I promise!
No, I’m not talking about your boyfriend or girlfriend, I am talking about you! (And me). There are times we want to do something, like a lifestyle change, and know it is a good thing for us and the right thing to do, but we just can’t get enough momentum going. We get up in the morning, turn off the alarm, and instead of lacing up the sneaks to workout, we think about how soft, cozy and warm the pillows and blankets are and drift back off to sleep. Sound familiar? I know I have done it many times.
It is important before you even begin a journey like a lifestyle change, that you examine WHY you are doing it in the first place. It can’t be something generic, like “I want to lose weight”, it has to be something specific and that really means something to you.
Which would drive you to get out of bed more in the morning? “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “My grandson/granddaughter is walking now and I want to be able to take her for walks and run around with her creating memories she will remember long after I am gone.”? Get the picture? Your reason has to be something that stirs your heart and soul to act and do what is necessary each and every day to reach your goal. Once you know your why then you can make your commitment.
You need to make a commitment to give it everything you have each and every day for as long as it takes to get to that goal. You may have a timetable of 6 months, but if there is one thing that is certain in life, it is that things WILL change. So if you plan on six months, it may take eight or even twelve! So what? You are on a journey remember? Not a race against the clock or anyone else. Know what will be required of you to get to your goal, know WHY you are doing it, and then commit to following it through until you succeed!
5 Tips To Make Your Healthy Lifestyle Change Easier
Okay, enough of the negative stuff, now let’s get you ready to take off and blow through all of your goals! Here are 5 tips to help you make your transformation easier and hopefully more enjoyable.
Track Your Progress
Whether you get a journal and write everything down, or use an app on your phone, log your progress and track it! When you are first starting out I recommend tracking what you eat as well. Yes, it is kind of a pain in the butt, BUT it will go a long way in opening your eyes to just how much you eat each day and the calories consumed. It also gets you familiar with proper serving sizes and what they look like so that after a while you can eyeball your servings by sight rather than measure everything out and still be close enough to your calories.
There are many different apps to track your food, but the most reliable one I believe is the good ole My Fitness Pal. You can look up practically any food from any store or restaurant and it remembers the foods you eat most often. You can also track your exercise, but I don’t care for that part of the app, because it is pretty vague and basic.
For workouts, I use Underarmour’s Map My Walk when I go for walks because it tracks by GPS rather than a pedometer. The thing I do not like about pedometers is that if it shakes around because you are jumping or waving your hand, it is counting steps more often than not and throwing off the true results. The GPS actually tracks where you are on the ground and the distance covered. It is also a safety feature if you think about it because if anything happened to you on your walk, the app will pinpoint exactly where you are. This app also syncs with My Fitness Pal so when you track your walk, the results automatically are sent to the My Fitness Pal app and record the calories burned.
While that works for walking, right now I am trying out an app called Strong, which tracks my strength workouts, allows me to add my own exercises if they are not in their library, and has a rest timer as well. So far I really like it, but the one drawback is that it does not sync with My Fitness Pal.
The reason you want to track your workouts and diet is so you can see your results and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. You cannot get in shape blindly following some article in a magazine where a celebrity or athlete writes what they did and expect the same results. You are not them and you have to find what works for you! Tracking your journey allows you to go back if something works and make a note to keep it. Same if you start to gain weight or get bloated. You can go back and look at your meals over the previous days and pinpoint what may have caused it so you can alter your diet going forward.
There are plenty of apps for free like I mentioned above, or if you want to go old school and handwrite a journal, you can find them inexpensively at stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls. You can also go to Amazon and get workout-specific journals that are laid out to document exercises, reps, and sets. Whichever you choose, document your journey, you will be glad you did.
Find Your Inspiration
You should have already come up with why you are on this journey, now we are going to add some other motivation. Find your inspiration, whether that be hiring a trainer to hold you to the task and walk you through your workouts, or, if you can use Google and YouTube, you can find all the information you need and if you can follow instructions and copy the exercises with proper form, you can learn on your own.
Aside from that, picture how you would like to look when you reach your goal and find a celebrity or athlete who looks like that and print out a photo of that image. Place that image on your refrigerator door or mirror in your bathroom to remind you where you want to be and inspire you. Be realistic when doing this, however, by choosing someone of similar height and body type as you. If you are 5’2” and the person in the photo is 6’3” you are going to have a hard time looking that way because your bodies are too different. It may even be a photo of yourself when you were younger, but having visual inspiration, where you can picture yourself with that body goes a long way in motivating you to your plan.
Pre Workout Boost
If you are like me and work 12-hour shifts, working shift work, it may be hard for you to get enough sleep and have the energy to work out and make it through your day. For this reason, I use a pre-workout drink 30 minutes before I train, to give me energy and mental focus to get a good I am going to say here that pre-workouts are NOT for everyone and you may wish to consult your doctor prior to using them, especially if you have heart disease of any kind, as they can raise your heart rate.
Pre-workouts normally use higher doses of caffeine as a stimulant as well as nitric oxide which opens the blood vessels allowing for blood to circulate quicker and more freely. I have tried many different brands and there are two that I use now exclusively, based on my budget.
The first is Superpump Max by Gaspari Nutrition, Pink Lemonade flavor, and this is my absolute favorite. It costs around $35 on average for a 30 day supply. Pre-workout is only taken on workout days, so it could last longer than 30 days.
The second one I use is 1 More Rep (1MR) by BPI Nutrition, which I was surprised to see on the shelf of my local Walmart! It is only $19.95 and they only carry the Blue Arctic Ice flavor, which isn’t bad really. It does not work as well as the Super Pump, but it is better than the C4 and the Five Star Nutrition brands they carry.
These two brands do not leave me jittery or make my heart race at all, but everyone is different, so if you decide to try one, start with the minimum dosage or even half of that if you wantThey both give me a sustained energy and mental focus, especially as I train in a fasted state and drink them on an empty stomach. They do not mess upmy stomach at all or give me any heartburn whatsoever. I find the energy lasts me at least four hours and just slowly wears off, without leaving me crashing and tired.
Check with your doctor first, but if you really want to power through your workouts, try a pre workout. Just do your research first prior to purchasing any brand.
Find A Resource
You can find practically anything you need on YouTube, including top-notch personal trainers and nutritionists who post free, very informative videos that you can use as reference resources. Which ones do you choose out of all the “experts” out there? You will have to do a bit of Googling and research on that. There are many “bro-science” self-proclaimed experts on YouTube and not to say that all of the info they put out is garbage, but they are most likely getting it from one of the top guys and just putting their own spin on things.
I personally eat low carb and healthy (rather than just high) fat, or as close to a keto diet as possible. I also do a weekly 36 hour fast every Wednesday for the health benefits and follow intermittent fasting the other days of the week. I find that after trying everything else, this is what works best for me. The three experts I rely on are Thomas Delauer and Dominic D’Agostino for all things keto, low carb, and fasting because they know what they are talking about and get into the science of it all, and the other is Ms. Sohee Lee. Sohee Lee approaches nutrition with more common sense and reality than almost anyone else I have seen or read. She primarily works with women, but her nutritional advice is good for men as well. She stresses not being a slave to your diet and healthy relationships with food without guilt but getting results as well, She talks the talk and more than walks the walk.
If you are thinking about going low carb, check out Thomas and Dominic. For all things nutrition in general and especially if you are a woman, check out Sohee Lee!!
For workouts and training, I just follow my favorite bodybuilders and fitness athletes. You can go to Bodybuilding.com or their channel and see videos on all different types of exercises and workout programs for all types of goals and skill levels. It is probably the best overall resource on the web.
Use the technology at your disposal, especially if you are a bit older, like me. You can Google anything and there is a video for practically everything on YouTube. Once you find a resource that clicks with your thinking and where you want to be, watch and learn!! Many of them, including Thomas DeLauer and Sohee Lee, offer consultation and online training as well for a fee if you need extra one on one assistance. Use the resources at your disposal!!
Find A Buddy
Some people like to train alone, like myself, finding a training partner or workout buddy can be just what you need to give you that extra kick in the pants, motivation and accountability to stay on track, especially on those days you don’t want to leave your blankets.
There is a saying that there is strength in numbers and this holds true to working out and sticking to a program. Studies have found that 95 percent of those who began a weight loss program with friends completed the program and achieved results. They also showed that people who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout time and intensity by 200 percent!! They also reported enjoying exercise more!
There are reasons for this, like the feelings of friendly competition to see if you can outdo each other or last longer. There is also the accountbility part of it where if you know that your firnds or workout partners are going to be waiting on you, you are less likely to skip out on a workout. All of these things can go a long way to making your healthy lifestyle transformaton easier and more enjoyable for you.
So ask a friend, relative or neighbor to join you on this journey, or better yet start a neighborhood or work group or tribe!
Undertaking a lifestyle change can be a daunting task and even scary. However, if you relax, look at it objectively, know why you want to make this change and what drives you, and know what will be required of you to reach your goals, you are halfway there! Then you seek out knowledge of diet and exercise, apps to track your progress, a partner to workout with if you would like to train with someone, and plan your training.
You find pictures that inspire you and put them in highly visible locations. You seek out and find professional resources on the topics you need to know, and if you need it, you pick up some pre workout or good coffee! You plan out what days you will train and what days you will rest and then you take your first step and begin.
It is a journey, not a race. THere will be ups and downs, like any journey you may undertake, but as long as you are still moving forward, even if it is an inch at a time, it is still progress forward.
You can do it! You have all that you need inside of you!