Changes That Stick
As I am writing this, it is January, and everywhere I turn I am faced with exercise or food commentary. Yes, it’s that time of year, and we are supposed to be taking stock of our lives and making changes where needed so that we can be better. There are many products we would like to believe would help us but the truth is, there is no magic diet, exercise, pill, etc.
It is very easy to get lured into the thinking, “If I weighed this, then my life would be better.” Many times I ask how will life be different when doing this or weighing that? I hear things like, “I would be more attractive…I would be able to wear my clothes…I would have more energy…I would feel better.”
While some of these statements are likely true, I can’t help but wonder about the fantasy life we are chasing. We know from research and experience that quick fixes don’t work and most changes in diet and exercise have to become permanent lifestyle changes or they will not work. Many people have successfully lost weight only to put it back on. This is called “yo-yo dieting.” Most people even report gaining about 10 lbs. more than where they started! This can be so frustrating and discouraging.
I would like to offer a few thoughts to get out of the trap of chasing the fantasy.
Make one small change every day that you know you can accomplish.
For example, I will drink more water throughout the day. How are you going to measure this to know you are meeting your goal? Set a specified time period, perhaps, for this next week. You will likely be more successful taking one thing at a time and feel more motivated with your progress. Once you have met this goal, assess to see if it’s a goal you’d like to continue. Add a new small change once you have mastered the goal.
Whatever changes you make must be thought of as “my new normal.” One of the things we are doing here at Psychology & Counseling is a group boot camp program. We are doing it twice weekly. It’s always helpful when you have support with making changes. We took away the excuses by doing this program because we meet in the parking lot immediately following work. In addition, some members of other local businesses are participating with us. It has been so energizing to be a part of this group. We took measurements at the beginning and identified our starting point with the exercises. We will measure our progress at the end of eight weeks.
Acknowledge your efforts and progress.
We need to be our own cheerleaders. Most of the time we are much better at encouraging others than we are ourselves. We need to try to use some of that same skill with ourselves. When we can see that we are getting stronger or that something is getting easier, we feel encouraged that our efforts are paying off.
We have to look further than a scale to see progress. That really isn’t an indicator of progress until we have been consistently making changes in our activity and intake over a long period of time. We need to find encouragement each week to keep it going.
As I said earlier, there is no one magic thing. It takes consistency and hard work. We can’t give up on ourselves when we “mess up.” We need to get back on track as soon as possible. We have to practice grace with ourselves. We are not going to be perfect no matter how hard we try.
I hope this offers some tips for getting long-term success. I know this will be a difficult path for me, personally, but I believe it is worth it.
Above is a picture of our group on the first day of boot camp. We will give an update next month. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Charlie Hardee at Psychology & Counseling at (601) 261-1650.
At Psychology & Counseling, we offer counseling and mental health assessments. Following diagnosis, we work with you to determine the best course of treatment and counseling for you. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (601) 261-1650.
Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding counseling or mental health, please contact Psychology & Counseling to make an appointment.