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January is the time of year where everyone is in refresh mode. Resolutions, new school supplies, new toys and new devices since Christmas. It is an opportunity to leave last year behind and try something different, brave new things. We all do it: jump at the chance to change, to improve, to be better. Full of hope, determination and resolve! We throw ourselves at opportunities, resolutions and goals.  A new gym routine, trying to lose weight, becoming a better me, learning new things. And ultimately the changes result in an insurmountable, overwhelming set of expectations toward the SELF. Fast-forward to impatience and disappointment when the changes are not serving up immediate gratification, success or results. And we subsequently postpone all new things; till next year.

 “I started my diet two hours ago, why haven’t I lost weight yet?”

Here are some gentle reminders to use mindful approaches to make any hopeful change sustainable, manageable and most importantly: achievable and successful.

Let’s be honest, adding 10 hours of gym time to your already busy schedule may cause other things to fall off the priority list that may be equally important as starting that new exercise routine. Changing from a mostly carnivorous diet to vegan overnight may create digestive, mood, and blood-sugar changes you can’t accommodate at work tomorrow… Be kind and gentle to yourself while becoming the new you! Here are some pointers on how to make it all happen, and keep it happening!

Reminder 1: Make your goal harmless and attainable

“I must lose 20 kilos,” may easily turn into a binge eating spiral due to frustration from lack of progress, and overwhelming/demanding expectations of immediate results. Why not reword the same goal to a positive affirmation:  “I am improving my diet and increasing my exercise in order to lose half a kilo per week for the next 4 months.”

You immediately establish a much more palatable change that tempers expectations and makes success more achievable.

Reminder 2: Implement changes gradually and sustainably

“Away with the junk food, here comes my new Keto-Me! Clear out the pantry top to bottom!” This radical approach to any goal will probably have you crash and burn by day 3 as the drastic changes become overwhelming. Attempting to break down your goal into small, simple changes that fit in with your lifestyle and make it easy to continue:

  • Schedule more exercise around your current schedule.
  • Try to meditate for 5 minutes per day, then increase to 7, then 10 and so on.
  • Increase water intake by marking consumption on the bottle to measure progress throughout the day.
  • Replace your favourite late afternoon snack with one that works better with your new healthier mind-set. Fruit is a great choice for those of us with a sweet tooth.
  • Learning a new language may benefit your attention and concentration, but it can be overwhelming at the beginning. Perhaps begin by learning the basics for 10 minutes each day.
  • Find a time that works for you such as during breakfast or on your lunch break at work.
  • Download a helpful app to keep you on track step-by-step.
Reminder 3: Don’t be a lemming! – In other words: find what works for you, rather than just following the latest crowd pleaser of a fad-diet or fad-exercise or fad-thing-to-do.

Don’t pressure yourself to read the latest self-help book that you’re not interested in. Don’t go “keto” because it is THE thing to do. Take a moment to listen to your body and mind: what does your routine and your body crave and need? What are you already doing that works well, and how can you expand on that? How can you improve what you are already doing?

Here are a couple of examples that will convert into real change with little effort:

  • Replace one of your daily flat-whites with a Green Tea.
  • Replace your 600ml with a 1L bottle to increase water intake.
  • Read a chapter of a book before bed over checking Facebook that close to sleep.
  • Park your car further away from work and include a brisk walk in your commute.
  • Step outside on your lunch break and breathe in the fresh air. It’s a great way to clear the mind.
Reminder 4: Celebrate and acknowledge progress

There is nothing more frustrating than putting in a lot of effort and not reaping the rewards. When our aim is change, it is difficult to maintain a sense for how far you have progressed. It can be helpful to establish a base-line to create comparisons that makes progress more apparent. A simple look in the mirror may not provide the same effect. Most change is so gradual that our self-perception does not notice anything until there is a BIG change. Think about your hair: even if you look Monday and Friday, you will not notice your hair growth unless you measured it or until a few weeks have passed.

Find ways that give you a sense of accomplishment in your own way, such as these examples:

  • Use tokens in a jar to track your new habit frequency and see how fast it fills.
  • Mark a reward chart with your progress to be proud of.
  • Get a body scan to compare weight and muscle mass rather than just the weight on your at-home scale.
  • Take a selfie in the same exact outfit frequently over time, compare to the first one weekly or monthly. (make a cool gif out of it once a month 😉 ).
  • Keep a diary of your new habits to look back on.
  • Download an app or by a journal that helps you track progress.
Reminder 5: Reward yourself to stay motivated

If computer games are any indication, rewards and bonuses are motivators to keep going. Utilise them for your “new-you” goal.

Identify what will keep you going:

  • Create a bonus system to have something tangible to work toward.
  • Get something special for reaching a benchmark (a new book , or a new waterbottle or a more costly treat for dinner)
  • Bonus: Double up the rewards by putting a gold coin into a savings jar every time you lose a kilo. Then buy yourself a new outfit at the end.
  • Think of rewards that are purposeful and in line with what you’re aiming for (Reminder: An icecream-sunday is not suitable for a weightloss journey).
Reminder 6: Self-compassion

Most importantly your journey should include the most important thing of all: patience. Real change takes time, but your patience will get you there faster than any drastic change you make. Be gentle and forgiving with set-backs and allow yourself to stumble on the way. Allow it to take just a bit longer than you first hoped for, but keep going and continue to the next step and toward progress. Appreciate progress and adjust the goal as necessary to make it attainable. Praise yourself for trying and make it about the journey rather than the goal.

Best wishes for your resolve and your quest to be a better version of you! If you’d like some support with achieving your goals for 2020, book in for an appointment at our clinic in Bulimba.

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