Are you mentally ready for change?
Yesterday I shared three articles discussing successful change, and if you have had time to read those you will discover that successful change is really at its heart a mental exercise. I have also discussed this in my post on My Philosophy on Change. Are you contemplating change in 2016?
It seems to me that change is something which happens in stages. Initially this thing in our lives called “inertia” wins the day – we may realize that we could be healthier, that we should lose some weight, and that we would feel better if we actually did exercise. Despite that realization we are happy in our rut, it is really easy to keep on doing what we are doing, and part of the reason we are doing these things is because we like them. I will be the first to admit that the processed food companies are experts at producing a product which tastes really good and lights up those pleasure centers.
Regardless of our masterful abilities as human beings to justify our present situation as okay, I suspect for most of us that if we are truly honest with ourselves we are not happy with the state we find our bodies in. I can say unequivocally I am not! I still have those love handles I would like to see gone!
So, let’s start by being honest with yourself about where you see yourself in terms of your health and fitness and where you would like to be realistically if you could wave the magic wand and just be different instantly. If at the end of that exercise you find the two are different visions, then change is prescribed – it is a matter of preparing yourself mentally to want to achieve it, and then understanding how to successfully do it.
Consider a change plan
I know this is a worn-out comparison but it is accurate – it is hard to get where you are going on a journey without a map to guide you. I am not suggesting here that you need to develop a highly detailed step by step plan, I would completely advise against that actually. The concept here is that you sit down with a calendar and just jot down one change you plan to implement every three weeks throughout the year – this will be roughly 17 changes total, but it is absolutely fine if they are small changes.
The reason for the three week interval between changes is discussed in my post on habits – a powerful tool. Also, you want to make these small enough that you can achieve them successfully. As you plan the details of each one in succession throughout the year, you want to apply the following test: Rate your likelihood of being able to do the change successfully from 1 – 10, if you are rating it anything lower than a 9 or 10 you have made it too big and you need to split it into smaller segments until you feel you can honestly get it done.
Considerations for designing your change plan
My suggestion is that this initial plan be very high level – it would be my expectation that this truly will be a journey and as you progress you will want to make adjustments to your next scheduled change. Don’t obsess about them initially as they will ultimately turn out differently than the initial plan. The point is to just have a plan, not to have one that is set in stone.
My next suggestion is to start with changes which deliver the highest return. The biggest difference in any body transformation will be achieved through dietary changes, period. What you need to think about is that your first few months you will need some positive reinforcement to help you stay the course, so go for changes here that are most likely to produce some noticeable change. As you go along you can begin to work in lifestyle and exercise changes.
Set aside time for education
I strongly believe that you need to either educate yourself through internet research and / or reading books and articles or alternatively work with a coach who can structure that education for you. I am not advocating endless hours of research here, just suggesting you dedicate some time each week to following an author you like, or a blog, or just googling as thoughts come to you.
I spent many years of my life pursuing mainstream ineffective fitness strategies – it was not that I was not dedicated or put in the effort, they did not work because they were just plain wrong. There is no sense in spinning your wheels – if you are not seeing results find another approach that works.
I will try to post tomorrow about some detailed changes which are likely to produce the highest impacts. This post has already gotten too long, and frankly books have been written about this subject. I do encourage you to take those first steps and make your journey a reality.