We’ve all been there. Eating a double cheeseburger, watching our fifth hour of the Sex and the City marathon, and vowing that tomorrow will be the day we get healthy. Then a week, a month, perhaps even a year goes by and tomorrow never comes. Like gravity’s pull on the earth, we are continually pulled into our same old habits. We do today what we did yesterday and will probably do next week what we have done today.
For every 11,000 signals we receive from our senses, scientists estimate that our brain only consciously processes 40. We live the majority of our lives on autopilot, allowing our learned behaviors and lifelong habits to dictate our future. It's time to wake up and take the driver’s seat. Through desire, dedication, and determination, you can change from poor habits to healthier ones. If you are prepared to change and improve your life, here are some tips that will help you on your journey.
- Develop a written weight loss plan. If you want to venture someplace you have never been, you need a written plan as a guide. Be as detailed as possible. If you want to lose weight, list the amount you want to lose, the length of time it will take, and your plan of action. For example, I want to lose 20 pounds in the next four weeks. I will do this by walking 30 minutes a day Monday through Friday from 7-7:30 a.m. I will also replace my daily soda with water. Write everything down and make sure your goals are realistic. Keep your plan visible and review it daily.
- Find a support system. Whether it's a friend, co-worker, family member, or other support system, accepting help from those who care about you will strengthen your commitment to change. Your support system will keep you motivated and accountable. Tell them your plan and share your triumphs and struggles with them.
- Start small. Determine your long-term goals, and then break them down into short-term goals. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. If you want to lose 75 pounds, it may be better to think of smaller goals, such as I want to lose 5 pounds this week. Smaller, more frequent goals will bring more success, and, in turn, will give you the momentum and encouragement you need to stay on track and reach your long-term goals.
- Change your thoughts. Thoughts are powerful. The more you think about something, the more you are allowing that something into your life. What are you thinking about on a daily basis? Do you judge yourself for being overweight? Are you having self-defeating thoughts? I’m not good enough to be healthy, or I don’t deserve to buy that outfit because it won’t look good on me. These types of notions can keep you bogged down in your present situation. Create a positive statement that you can repeat anytime you feel a negative idea setting in. For example, I am healthy, strong, and powerful; or negative thoughts no longer limit me. I let them go with ease.
- Consistency is Key. Research shows that it takes 30-45 days of consistently doing something to form a habit. It might be getting up at 6 a.m. so you can work out or not having your daily mocha shake. After 30-45 days, your mind will recognize this new pattern, increasing the chances of permanently changing your behavior.