So you've found an area that you'd like to do better in, and you're asking yourself, "Where should I begin?" Making the decision to change an aspect of your life can be daunting, time consuming, and down-right difficult. But when it comes to bettering your fitness and wellness, there can be no greater undertaking. Taking the steps towards a more balanced lifestyle will lead you to having more energy and seeing the world in a more positive light. Soon you will be jumping out of bed in the morning ready to take on the world!
Here are some tips and tricks that will be sure to make change stick:
Set Realistic Short-Term and Long-Term GoalsThis is an essential part of making change. What is the overall expected outcome of the changes your want to make (you probably already know this), and what are the smaller steps you are going to take to achieve this larger goal.
For example) Long-Term Goal: I would like to lose 5% body fat.
Short-Term Goal: I will weight-lift three times each week.
Short-Term Goal: I will cut out unneeded munchie-snacks when I am not truly hungry.
Create a ContractInclude your goals, plans for changing your behavior, and have it signed by you and a close friend or relative. Make sure that person supports your change and will keep you accountable!
Self-MonitoringThis involves analyzing your actions to help determine what unhealthy behaviors and patterns may be modified to help you lead a more healthy life. If you are looking to lose weight or exercise more, there are many helpful online calorie counters or fitness trackers. I personally like FitDay.com and the Daily Mile. The use of a journal can also help you identify harmful triggers that reinforce unhealthy behaviors.
Making SubstitutionsReplace an unhealthy behavior with a healthier choice. Instead of keeping salty, fatty chips in your cupboards for snack time, swap them out for pre-cut veggies or in-season fruits.
Treating YourselfDevelop a system to reward yourself when you meet your goals. This may be a trip to the mall for a new pair of running shoes, or perhaps a relaxing afternoon at a salon or spa. Try to avoid using food as a reward!
Making a List and Checking It TwiceMake a list of the positive and negative aspects of the behavior you want to change. Most likely the positives will outweigh the negatives. Keep this list for times when motivation is lacking. A quick peek will remind you of the wonderful things your are doing for yourself.
Preventing RelapseIf you have been self-monitoring, this part should be easy. Identify triggers that spur on unhealthy behavior. Develop a plan to counteract or avoid these "high-risk" situations. For example, you are headed to a friend's house for a party. There will be sugary cocktails and tons of appetizers. Have a plan set before you even step inside. Make sure you eat dinner before you go so you aren't starving by the time you arrive and gobble up all the high-calorie foods. Make your first drink water, and have a set limit for yourself (1 or 2 drinks) to keep inhibition and calories consumed in check.
Go and Do! You can achieve whatever you put your mind to and your body will most definitely thank you!