January is already in the rearview mirror (!!!), and I’m betting those ‘get fit’ resolutions you made are waning like the afternoon sun. Don’t let them! If the thought of overhauling your workout routine AND learning a new way to cook AND packing your lunch every morning is proving too difficult (gee, I wonder why?), perhaps it’s time to re-think how many resolutions you committed to.
Today, I’m challenging you to DO JUST ONE THING. Just one.
While the idea of improving all areas of your life at once sounds good, for most people it’s too overwhelming. (If you’re someone who thrives on change, go you! Making multiple health-improving changes at once just gets you to your goal faster and can be incredibly motivating, if you can handle it.) Back to change for the normal bunch:
What is the ONE thing in your life that would make the biggest difference? Is it your sedentary lifestyle? Is it your soda/candy/fast food habit? Maybe it’s stress eating, or not knowing how or what to cook. I’m here to tell you that this year can be different, one step at a time.
- Replace what you’d like to give up with a healthier option. For example, if you’re trying to decrease the amount of soda you drink, consider starting to lower your dependence on sweet beverages. Instead of replacing soda with the diet version, reach for water, seltzer or unsweetened herbal tea. If it’s your mindless snacking habit you want to kick, try replacing the time you’d spend eating with an activity, like talking a walk. Don’t leave a void that could easily get filled with another unhealthy habit, like overdoing it on juice or watching more TV.
- Likewise, if you’re adding something healthy into your routine, consider getting rid of something. For example, if you’re adding in trips to the gym or learning to cook, maybe you need to let go of a weekly television show—there are only 24 hours in a day.
- Identify triggers in your life. Do you tend to order pizza after a stressful day at work? Do you mindlessly munch while watching TV at night? Once you figure out what your triggers are, you can more easily avoid temptation and be successful in your lifestyle change. Make sure you have at least one healthy meal in the fridge at all times (some cooked chicken and steamed veggies will do in a pinch), and start brushing your teeth at night to avoid snacking after dinner.
- TRACK YOUR PROGRESS. Keep a journal or mark on your calendar how many times you were able to make the healthy choice. Take credit for your accomplishments! It’s motivating to see progress and growth, whether that’s pounds lost or the accumulation of seltzer cans waiting to be recycled.
Game Plan: Let’s pretend that the ONE THING you want to change is to make your current breakfast of coffee and a donut/bagel/Pop-Tart healthier. Here’s what I’d do: 1.) Substitute the carb-heavy bread with a mix of protein, fat and carbs. A healthier option would be two hard-boiled eggs and a banana. You can keep the coffee, just make sure it’s not simply a vehicle for cream and sugar. 2.) Omit the sugar bomb (a.k.a. donut/bagel/Pop-Tart) from breakfast altogether. Also, you may need to get rid of an activity in your nighttime routine to allow for time to prep your breakfast. 3.) Analyze why you’re drawn to sweets at breakfast. Is it convenience? Maybe it’s how you ate as a kid? Also, how do you feel after eating your new, healthy breakfast for a week? 4.) Track how many better breakfasts you were able to manage each week. Consuming healthier food is a reward for your body, but maybe you could justify a small treat (NOT sugar!) for yourself, too? Perhaps it’s time to freshen up your stash of Tupperware!
Some people say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, some say 30 and some say 60. I’d encourage you to continue choosing your ‘healthy option’ for at least 30 days, or until it becomes second-nature. True story: I used to hate running. But I had to for Air Force ROTC in college, so I kept at it, and now I’ve run three marathons and love it. It IS possible to train yourself to like something that you initially don’t enjoy. Even I can admit that sweetened beverages ‘taste’ better than water. But what’s more important: the instant gratification of a sweet drink or a long-term improvement in your health?
I just completed my third Whole30 during the month of January, and I’m loving that it’s got me back in the kitchen to cook more regularly. One of my favorite meals was a delicious beef ‘enchilada’ made with riced cauliflower as a base instead of corn tortillas; even my hubby approved! I’m most excited about resetting my food habits and taste buds after a particularly indulgent holiday season!