by Coach Erica Celini
Have you ever seen someone take on a new dietary or lifestyle change, only to go back to their old ways after a few days?
I see this a lot in January with New Year’s resolutions. People jump right into a 6 day per week exercise routine after not working out for the past year. Most will find themselves exhausted or injured, and go back to their old habit of not exercising by the end of Spring. With nutrition the same thing happens. In an effort to lose weight or be healthy, people do month long food challenges where they overhaul their entire diet and cut out major food groups. Once the challenge is finished, most find themselves celebrating the end of challenge by going back to their old way of eating.
When it comes to implementing a new healthy habit like getting more sleep, eating less sugar, working out consistently, or managing stress better, getting started without overdoing it can be the toughest part. Setting audacious goals is awesome, but thinking that you’ll be able to change everything overnight can set you up for failure in the long run. Instant gratification seekers need to wrap their heads around the idea that small, incremental changes, consistently done, will pay large dividends in the future. Too much change, too fast can lead to a yo-yo cycle with diet and exercise since a BIG change requires a lot of consistency that isn’t already a daily habit.
Here’s how I recommend approaching your wellness goals in a sustainable way:
1. Core Values
First, identify your Why. What do I mean by this? Everyone knows that eating healthier, drinking less alcohol, and getting enough sleep is important for being healthy. But that isn’t necessarily motivating, if the benefits of those actions do not resonate with who you are and what you want to accomplish in life. Having a deep connection to Why you’re making a new habit will keep you committed once the initial excitement wears off.
Tip: Start by outlining your core values and what matters most to you. Health, Family, Joy? Then think about how your core values connect to your new habit.
2. The Big Picture
The next step is to create big picture goals making sure they are in alignment with your core values and your Why. Goals that conflict with your core values will ultimately set you up for failure. This takes some honesty and self reflection. Don’t choose goals based on what your coach thinks or people around you…what do you want to change?
Tip: Chunk it Down. Once your goals are mapped out, chunk them into smaller action steps to get to your desired end goal. I’m talking bite-sized pieces. If the steps are too complicated, there’s a high probability that you won’t do them.
3. Be Consistent
This is the secret sauce to building momentum. Every week, completing small action steps will move you closer to your big picture goals and help you stick to your new habit. This is especially necessary if your new habit requires you to do something outside of your comfort zone. Completing small steps towards a bigger goal will help you feel like you CAN do it.
Tip: Measure Progress Backwards. Your progress and goals are always evolving, so reflect back to track your progress. For example, if your goal is to get stronger, there is no real end to this goal if you are committed to the habit of consistent exercise. Even if you have a specific goal like squatting 300 pounds, once you get there, you will likely make a new goal as your perspective on your abilities change. Looking back and seeing that your numbers increased is incredibly motivating. Schedule periodic check ins to assess if you are on the right track. Then celebrate your wins (big or small) every chance you get!
In my seminar, Nutrition 101, I will teach you general principles you can incorporate into your nutrition plan, no matter what your starting point is. The goal is for you to learn how to make small improvements to your nutrition and recovery in a sustainable way, and figure out the small action steps you need to take to reach your big picture goals.
If you are interested in learning more about how to set goals, eat right, and recover better, please attend my next 101 at the UWS location on Sunday February 4th at 11 am.
All CFNYC members are welcome, drinks and snacks will be provided. Any questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.