If you’re having trouble sticking to your health plan, maybe your mind needs changing first. Today’s guest blogger, Ivan Dimitrijevic, shares with us a few of his suggestions in how we can mentally prepare for changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
There are plenty of different paths to attaining good health, but just about everyone knows that switching to a healthier diet and becoming more physically active are the basis of any good fitness program. With all the available information, it’s safe to say that we all understand the fundamental requirements for a strong and healthy body, but the problem most people have is the inability to effectively switch mental gears and stick to the lifestyle changes that they need to make.
Teaching yourself to eat fewer calories and to avoid all the sweets, soda and fast food that you have become used to takes time and effort. And not everyone can stay motivated long enough to actually turn the positive changes into habits, and the habits into second nature.
Fortunately, there are ways of helping yourself make the necessary psychological adjustments that will enable you to stay consistent with your diet and training.
1. Don’t Try to Ease Yourself into It Too Gradually
Our biggest problem is that we all have a fairly sedentary lifestyle, and very few people are actually used to pushing their bodies to work hard. While just jumping into a very restrictive diet and adding too much volume to your workouts is not the best idea, going by what you feel is “hard work” will all but ensure that you make incredibly slow progress.
It’s best to focus on improving your mobility and gradually developing some basic strength and stamina for the first month, as well as taking the time to research healthy food recipes and stock up on the right ingredients, but you should be making some big changes after that, and make them into a routine. A set routine is easy to get used to if you are doing things the smart way.
2. Allow Yourself Some Room for Error
One of the biggest reasons people have for quitting and falling back to their old habits is the defeatist attitude of “well, I’ve failed to meet these arbitrary goals I have set for the day/week/month so I might as well indulge”. Being a little bit off target is not the same as completely failing to make the progress, and a moment of weakness shouldn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.
If you couldn’t resist the urge to have some candy, then at least limit yourself to only a part of the package, and share the rest with someone else. If you miss a workout, do it tomorrow, or try to add an extra half an hour of walking for the rest of the week. A few small mistakes should be expected, so do not despair, and keep looking at the bigger picture.
3. Make Simple Changes First and Build on Them with Time
There is a concept that anyone who has lifted weights is hopefully familiar with, and that is “linear progression”. It is quite simple really – in order to get stronger, you keep trying to do one more repetition or add a couple of pounds to the bar each week. When committing to a healthier diet and training, you should have the same mindset.
Start walking for 10 minutes in the morning, then build up to 20, then eventually turn it into a running session. Limit yourself to 2 cans of soda and no more than 100 grams of sweets a day, and have a big salad for lunch, then try to eat junk food no more than once or twice a week, and have veggies with every meal. Start small, and quickly build up your good habits.
4. Keep Reminding Yourself about the Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle
While the reasons for eating healthy and exercising should be apparent, people often need a visual source of motivation. For some, it can be the image of them proudly showing off their fit body at the beach, for others, it may be all the energy and focus that they have when they eat healthy, and some might want to compete with someone else or try to emulate a celebrity or an athlete. Find a good source of motivation, and think about it daily, while at the same time reminding yourself of the negative things associated with your old lifestyle, e.g. constantly feeling fatigued, being out of breath, having stomach problems, not being able to sleep well, etc.
A healthy lifestyle is a bit difficult to get used to after a lifetime of bad habits such as compulsive eating and sitting around all day, but the change is really worth the effort. I’ve learned these things the hard way, and hope that my experience can help others avoid making some of the mistakes I did, and reach their goals a little bit quicker.
About the Author
Ivan Dimitrijevic has long been writing about the importance of staying fit and taking care of one’s body. He is husband and a father, and tries to keep himself and his family in good health. This often means reading up on the latest studies and applying proper dieting and exercise methods in real life. Ivan enjoys blogging about fitness, health and what it takes to achieve true longevity, and is always looking for ways of dispelling harmful myths and spreading good information.
Do you have any tips to add here for mentally preparing for a healthier lifestyle?