Do you know that a study from U.S. News and World Report showed that 80 percent of New Year's resolutions will fail by February? That seems pretty dismal. What does the other 10% of the population do differently than everyone else? How does this rare few, seemingly crush their goals, keep moving forward and keep themselves from backsliding to their old habits? How do they develop real and lasting change?
I believe the difference is that they don't focus solely on GOALS; relying on a long list of items and tasks to complete. Rather, lasting change which brings true results develops when one CHANGES their MINDSET.
Here are a few steps you can take towards a MINDSET shift that will create lasting change:
CHANGE THE LANGUAGE
Many people demonize the things they are doing using language such as "I make bad food choices." They may label certain foods bad. "Bread is bad, sugar is bad, fat is bad" I"m not suggesting you eat an all bread diet without consequence. What I am saying is that the language we use shapes our beliefs, feelings, attitudes and choices. If eating a sweet food is "bad" when you do it, you will feel bad about it. Rather, than eating a food of your choice for your enjoyment once, you now "did something bad." If you are an all or nothing thinker such as myself, you may find yourself sliding down the slippery slope of such thinking: "I ate one piece of chocolate and broke my diet, chocolate isn't allowed on my diet, now I feel bad, I'm such a bad person for not being able to keep my diet, I can never reach my goals, I guess I will just eat another piece and another and another." Then you eat the whole batch of chocolates and you cannot believe you just did that. Now you feel depressed and terrible for doing this, and you feel like a failure. You figure you probably just gained 10 pounds so it's better to just forget this whole goal thing, there's no point so why even try!
This whole cycle of thinking is how I ended up gaining and loosing and gaining and loosing 15-20, 30 pounds over and over again most of my life. I still battle it.
When we focus on what is BAD for us, it rarely results in lasting change. If the knowledge of things being unhealthy was all that was needed to motivate us then people wouldn't struggle with addictions to sugar, drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships or sex.
First of all change the language, rather than looking at all of your BAD HABITS look at the GOOD HABITS you can add to your life. What do you want to include in your life? What do you want to improve in your life? What do you want to add to your life?
This is the best place to start. Here are some examples of changing your language:
- I want to stop eating sugar. Instead, I will add a variety of fruits and vegetables to improve my nutrition and energy
- I will stop eating chips. Instead, I love crunchy foods and salt, I will start cutting up crunchy veggies and make homemade dips to satisfy my need for crunch.
or I will teach myself how to make kale chips
--I will stop drinking so much alcohol. Instead, I will explore my relationship with drinking alcohol, how does it make me feel, what happens when I drink it, how is it affecting my relationships with others?
If I haven't said it before I will now, diets rarely work. As a nurse I believe that medical diets are sometimes necessary and healing nutrition can bring about amazing changes in emotions, hormones, and chronic pain and inflammation. Nutrition is a tool we can use towards wellness but we have to change our mindset around food so that it can serve us not enslave us.
FIND THE RIGHT MOTIVATION
When I found myself struggling with migraines, stomach pain, body aches, fatigue, anxiety and depression I decided that the PAIN OF STAYING THE SAME WAS WORSE THAN THE PAIN of MAKING A CHANGE.
Is there a deeper reason that you want to reduce processed foods and sugar in your diet? Maybe you've noticed that every time you eat it you feel tired, it worsens your PMS, it's making you literally sick and your doctor is telling you that if you don't reduce your blood sugar you are going to have to use insulin to manage your Type 2 Diabetes. What would the benefit be to you if you started fueling yourself with nutrient dense foods? Write these thing down and solidify WHY you want to make this change: "I would have more energy to play with my kids" , "I won't have a heart attack like my Dad did at age 50." "My migraines are triggered by low blood sugar so if I improve my insulin issues I will have a better quality of life."
It's okay to be motivated to do things for other people, but if you can find a deeper reason to make a change for YOURSELF, to improve YOUR quality of life then lasting change is around the corner. If you have a strong internal motivation, then THIS TIME when you think about backsliding, you will remember why you are eating a bowl of fruit rather than a pan full of brownies. You'll remember the last time you did that you had a headache for a week and you know you don't want to feel like that again.
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
If you were starting a new job you wouldn't walk in the door and sit down and do something without any training or education. You would prepare yourself. You wouldn't show up at the starting line of a marathon in your work clothes and just decide to wing it and go for a 26 mile run on your lunch break.
My point is, approach your life the way you would SOMETHING THAT YOU REALLY WANT. If your child needed a kidney transplant you would do whatever you had to do to get it for them. Call relatives, research, hold fundraisers, contact transplant organizations and figure out whatever you had to in order to get your child what her or she needed.
Why don't we do this for ourselves? The reason: We don't want it bad enough. Or maybe you don't think you deserve it? YOU DO! You deserve to be happy and healthy and whole.
Begin by asking these questions: How can you succeed? What do you need in order to be successful? Then plan the steps towards getting what you need to be successful.
Maybe you need an online course in nutrition or just need to read articles on anti-inflammatory foods. Maybe you need to read about supplements and nutrients that help improve thyroid function. Maybe you need to create a more restful place to sleep so that you can adequately get 8 hours of sleep a night. Maybe you need to order a few cook books or ask your friend who is a great chef to show you how to cook gluten free foods. Maybe you need a support group or a community of friends to help you. Maybe you need to meal plan or throw out half of your pantry items and start over replacing them with foods that will fuel you and not derail you. Maybe you need to hire a babysitter so you can sleep, or exercise or just have time to yourself.
Start putting together a plan for success. If you need help then hire a coach, you would hire one for your kid, why wont you invest that in yourself?
Find your Tribe
As an introvert , I will be honest I didn't know that I needed this. For a long time I lied to myself and thought I could go it alone. Even if you are the most analytical introvert on the planet, we all need someone to cheer us on. Think about the support that you need and then go find it. I KNOW FIRST HAND THAT THIS IS NOT EASY. But you have to do it if you want to succeed. You have to find your people who love you, who know you and support you on your worst days. You have to find others with common goals and cause. Maybe it's AA, maybe its a group at church, maybe its Cross Fit or a Fitness Class you go to, maybe its a group of women who you can band together this year and say "Let's be in the ring together and fight for what we want." I dare you to reach out and ask a friend how you can support her and then tell her how she can support you.
Lastly, keep tuned for an exciting new partnership that will bring this sort of tribe straight to your living room!
Happy New Year's Friends, let's be that 10% who are crushing it, together!