Originally written as a piece about New Year’s Resolutions, this is applicable to making any changes or trying anything new (especially when it’s good for you). Almost every lifestyle change follows the same pattern: that slight glimmer of hope you will become the new and improved you, which is almost always followed by running into to people you had told your resolution to and joking about how you’d never even got started, let alone became the new, improved you.
Unfortunately, you can’t just write yourself off as lazy or a terrible person (it might be the case, but that’s probably not why you didn’t follow through with your resolution). The reason is that it is practically impossible to break habits instantaneously and become a new person just by clicking your fingers, which is what we all invariably try to do. Understanding that breaking bad habits is VERY tough is very important, so we’re going to replace the bad habits with better ones to amend the old routine. Will you have bad days? Of course. Will you fall off the wagon once or twice? Probably (everyone does). The goal is progress, IMPROVEMENT, not perfection. Mistakes are a perfectly normal part of change (almost all learning comes from mistakes).
Also, there has to be a motivation for this new change! If it’s something that you really want in and of itself (i.e. meditating because you have an interest in meditating), you’ll be intrinsically motivated. If you are doing something so as to achieve a different goal (i.e. weight loss so as to reduce blood pressure, or even dieting to see a specific number on the scales), this is extrinsically motivated. Generally, intrinsically motivated people won’t need rewards etc. to keep themselves engaged, and will do best by improving their environment (removing distractions, having an allocated time, rewarding themselves with something related to the change… diet = cookware, exercise = joining a gym / training sessions, etc.) and having reminders (either by putting photos around the house, by setting reminders on your phone, or even by signing up to receive daily quotes relevant your new routine). With extrinsic motivation, generally a reward is necessary – something to work towards. This works best if it can be broken into smaller goal/reward stages to help build confidence that you can achieve your goal and to keep you engaged at each stage.
Let’s take a look at a simple template…
Small changes add up to big differences, so start with something you will definitely stick with and after 2-3 weeks add in something else
Set yourself up to succeed! Always add 10 minutes to any prospective plans, so if your exercise routine takes 20 minutes, give yourself 30 minutes! If you want to spend 30 minutes a night studying that new language you’re dying to learn, have a 30 minute window lined up EVERY NIGHT (just after dinner is usually safe). If you need to remove junk from your house, explain to any naysayers how important it is for you, and if all else fails,pretend that the money you save on not buying junk food will be added to their pocket/beer money (remember to only laugh in your head)
The path of least resistance will always be the default when you get tired or things get hectic, so instead of putting more time/effort/money/brain space into your plans, remove the obstacles.
Shopping List Guide available for download HERE!
|Task||Never buying anything NOT on your shopping list|
|Reward||*See end of page|
At work – who the hell brought biscuits and left them in a locked cupboard with a sign saying Dave’s biscuits?? I’ll just have one…
At home – I’ve been so good all day, I’ll just have 2…ish squares of chocolate (anyway, it’ll go bad if it isn’t eaten).
So, with this one, your entire diet revolves around your shopping list. You don’t worry about anything else. Most of your bad snacking is happening at home (or in the coffee shop on the way to work), so this is half the battle won right here!
Plan: For the first 7 days of your new start, you monitor all your grocery purchases. Nothing too crazy, but know what you’re buying (you should do that anyway). Make a list of all the essentials and make them the base of your new shopping plan. Make a section for 1 or 2 meals that you routinely make, and then a section for cheat foods (dates, grapes, berries, and other fruits) to eat when you need. If it’s not on the list DON’T BUY IT! Make a note of it and if you still want it when you get home, put it on your list for next time. This is also an amazing way to budget, and makes keeping track of your spending easy once you’ve put in the initial hard work. If you falter in work, don’t beat yourself up about it, but make your home your Mecca! It will take a few weeks to fine tune this to your own particular preferences, but then you’ll never look back!
For a printable shopping list template, click here!
- Building a stockpile of go-to recipes is essential to minimising time spent making shopping lists
- Find a healthy drink (not fruit juice) that will help you increase your water consumption (water is best, but tea – no milk, cordials – all natural, and veg. juices are good alternatives)
- Make your own simple salad dressing using a healthy oil base and some herbs/spices which you can throw over any collection of raw salad foods. Keep it simple – lettuce and tomatoes is fine to start with!
|Task||Relaxation Routine, No Electronic Devices|
|Reward||*See end of page|
This one is another that can be encorporated into your night time routine. It doesn’t cost anything and it can really help with all areas of your life (poor sleep quality can cause increased stress, anxiety, depression, weight-gain, lack of concentration, and many more issues). Print out the steps below, stick to the wall in your bedroom/toilet/kitchen (whichever’s easiest to remember). The key with these steps is to tailor them to your particular needs/likes (not everyone will need/want all of them)
Get your Pre-Bed Routine sheet HERE!
|Goal||More Energy, Feel Younger, Be Healthier|
|Trigger||Pre-Dinner 20 Minute Window|
|Task||Using 10 minutes to get the results of an hour – busting your butt|
|Reward||*See end of page|
This is, again, simply a case of biting off more than you can chew. If you commit to signing up to a gym, and seeing a personal trainer, and training 5 days a week, and keeping a training log… well, if you can do that then you’re already on your way to transformation. But, if that sounds like it’s too challenging to keep up, then you need to start with something simple. 10 minutes of exercise. That’s it. Find a 20 minute window that you will have EVERY DAY (remember we said add 10 minutes to allow for some initial “settling in” to your new routine), and I will give you a workout challenging enough to get you started transforming your body. These 10 minutes should be without interruption, which isn’t a lot for anyone to ask for. With 2 minutes of dynamic stretching and warming up and 8-10 minutes of gruelling exercise, you will be amazed at what you can do! For the first few days, when everyone bursts into the room at the end of your 10 minutes, you will be huddled on the floor, covered in what most people will assume is urine (don’t worry, it’s sweat!). After about a week of this, they will burst into the room and cower at the sheer awesomeness you are becoming (everyone needs to get their sweaty & scary on once and a while, it’s how we survived once upon a time).
Print out one of the free routines from the website (you can find them here), and pin them to the wall in the room you will exercise. For the first week do each exercise separately to assess for sore muscles and joints [This means that if the routine is Squatx10 /Push-Upsx10 /Renegade Rowx5 /Mountain Climbersx10 /Lungesx5, instead of doing all of it just do some Squats first and see how they feel – take any notes you need – and then move on to Push Ups etc. If an exercise feels ok, then try to see how many reps you can comfortably do and take note of this too]. Once you have found any issues, you need to assess whether this just requires stretching or is sore/uncomfortable to the point that you should replace the exercise with something safer. These notes will form the basis of your warm-up, which is supposed to ensure your muscles are moving well enough to allow you safely complete your exercise.
ALWAYS CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY NEW TRAINING ROUTINE!
* You may have noticed that I haven’t filled in any of the reward spaces. This is because you need to find something to motivate you! The goal I have listed is, in reality, the bi-product of doing these things, but that is not necessarily your goal. Decide what you want to achieve, break that into stages, and use that as fuel. Alternatively, you could have some kind of extrinsic reward, like treating yourself to something special
** The most important part of any change is owning that change! If you slip up, accept responsibility for that slip up and use it as an opportunity to learn going forward. Don’t try to find things to blame for why you couldn’t do it, this just means that you’ll never have control of you health and your happiness. Being responsible doesn’t mean being wrong or right, it means being in charge and accepting that changes will only come from proactive attempts at change. EVERYONE hits a few (or many many) speed-bumps along the way, the successful ones understand that this is just part of the learning process and not something to be bothered about or ashamed of. We guarantee you are capable of becoming whoever/whatever you want. Guaranteed.
As W. Churchill once said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”