We’ve all been there before. One day we feel like we can do anything – and we resolve to try. But a few days or weeks later, we wonder how we can get up the desire to even get out of bed. Well, maybe it’s not that bad…but when it comes to keeping up with healthy eating and physical activity, perhaps it is.
Take a moment to review these three steps for staying with it – whether it’s resolve to lose weight, get healthy or any other goal you have.
3 Steps for Lasting Change
Step #1: Examine your thinking.
What’s going on in your mind as you try to change your behaviors? Remember the connection between our thoughts, our emotions and our behaviors. The first feeds the second, the second the third. If our thinking is awry, so goes our emotions, and our behaviors reflect how we’re feeling.
Consider these thinking errors common to weight-struggling women:
- All-or-nothing thinking – The tendency to go to extremes, judging ourselves and our bodies as extremely good or bad. Challenge this thinking by recognizing that few things are truly black and white.
- ‘Should’ statements – Trying to motivate yourself with ‘shoulds’, including comparing yourself to perfectionistic images in the media. Remember you have choices; look for them.
- Magnification/minimization – An overfocus on things you dislike about yourself while minimizing your positive attributes. Thank someone who compliments you and skip the ‘but….”
- Scapegoating – Incorrectly concluding that a disliked physical characteristic is directly responsible for certain difficulties you encounter. Remember that making assumptions and taking things personally can be a big mistake; weight bias does exist, but it may not be responsible for all your troubles.
- Mind reading – Projecting your own thoughts/beliefs onto others. Remind yourself that even though you are bright and perceptive, you still can’t read others’ minds.
- Fortune telling – Predicting how your physical shortcomings will affect the future. Remind yourself that even though you are bright and perceptive, you still can’t predict the future.
- Emotional reasoning – Thinking it must be true if you feel or believe it. Identify what you are feeling and remind yourself it’s just a thought – that doesn’t make it true.
Step #2: Fine-tune your plan.
Do you have a clear plan about how you’re going to get where you want to go? If not, it’s time to turn on the computer (or get out the paper and pencil). Write down what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it.
Break it down into realistic, achievable steps, setting intermediate milestones that will take you to your final goal (example: walking 30 minutes a day instead of losing 50 pounds). Instead of negative goals, such as I won’t binge this week, use positive statements that specify supportive behavior that you can do: “I’ll eat three balanced meals and snack when I’m hungry this week.”
Remember to plan rewards along the way. There’s nothing better than winning, then getting a ‘prize’ for it, too! This helps you celebrate your successes along the way rather than waiting for the lottery.
Step #3: Take action…in small steps.
Having a hard time figuring out where to start? It doesn’t really matter – as long as you start. You might want to start with something that’s relatively easy for you to do, so you can experience success quickly. It’s also important not to take on too much at one time, to avoid overwhelming yourself.
Finally…. Putting it Together
Top Tips for Success
- As you go through your days, stay aware of your thoughts and keep them supportive.
- Fine-tune your plan as you go. Your needs may change as you achieve intermediate goals.
- Get friends in on the action. Develop a support system to do things with as well as to turn to when things get tough.
- Take a couple of minutes every day to write down your successes. You’ll build the habit of recognizing what you’ve done instead of focusing on what you haven’t done.