Many of us are accused of either being blinkered or viewing WLS life through rose-tinted glasses but most of us do reflect on our decisions and choices over this period between Christmas and New Year. Many, me included, make plans (big and small) that we hope will make a difference to our health, well-being, relationships and work.
It’s very tempting to jump head first into making these but I have found that stepping back and reflecting upon the choices I plan to make and then implement makes all the difference. So too does Bariatric Dietitian Kristin and here she explains why … makes great sense … regardless of whether you’re already on the loser’s bench or plan to be.
GUEST FEATURE: The dawn of a New Year Year is always an exciting time. There’s a sense of renewal and fresh possibilities on the horizon. For many people, the New Year signals a clean slate and a chance to develop new goals.
Do you have goals for the New Year?
If so, what are they?
I want to challenge you to take it one step further and identify what habits are going to get you there.
Habits are the stepping stones to help you achieve your goals. Without them, you would have no framework on how to accomplish your goals.
So what exactly is a habit?
A habit is something that you do repeatedly without thinking about. It’s part of your routine and it does not take a lot of mental work to complete. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “an acquired mode of behaviour that has become nearly or completely involuntary.”
Some habits can be helpful to your health such as taking your vitamins every morning at breakfast or they may be hindering your health such as watching TV at night while eating sweets.
Building new healthful habits takes time and commitment but it can be done. Today I want to share with you some tips on how to develop habits to support your goals.
Pick 1 or 2 Habits To Start
While it can be tempting to begin a bunch of new habits, it can be counterproductive. You’ll likely get burned out and not have the energy to continue.
Building new habits take time so it’s helpful to just focus on one or two. An example of this could be, “Eat protein at every meal.” Once you have mastered this habit for a few weeks then begin to build another habit.
I understand it may not feel like you are doing enough at first. You are.
Real change takes time. Be patient with yourself. You may not see immediate results but over time you will see a dramatic difference. You are building a foundation.
Redwood trees do not grow to great heights overnight and beautiful seaside cliffs are not carved out by water in a day. They experience small, incremental changes over long periods of time that produce breathtaking results. You will do the same.
Know Your “Why”
Why do you want accomplish this habit?
Do you want to feel good?
Do you want to play with your kids more often?
Knowing your personal reason “why” helps give you strength and motivation to start your new habits and routines. It’s what helps get you out of bed earlier to eat breakfast in the morning or go for your morning workout.
Write down your “why” and stick it to your mirror or keep it in your wallet. Put it anywhere you can find it and refer back to it often. This will serve as motivation along the way.
Every once in a while refer back to your “why” and see if it still resonates with you. You may notice your “why” changes. Motivations change and that is okay!
Stack your Habits
Habits are most likely to stick if they are “stacked” upon another routine in your schedule. For instance, if you want to start taking your vitamins daily, then you could take them at breakfast each morning (assuming you are eating breakfast each day). You are “stacking” your vitamins on top of your breakfast routine.
Another example is to go to the gym after work. You are attaching the new habit to something you are already doing (getting off work). In other words, you’re “stacking” the new habit on top of another habit you already have in your life.
Do you know why stacking your habits is so important?
Because eventually your motivation runs out. Yep. I said it.
Motivation is a great feeling to get the ball rolling and begin new habits but it’s poor at keeping the momentum going.
Developing a consistent routine and stacking your habits on top of each other is what helps keeps your momentum going. If you are consistent with your new routine then it will stick as a habit and you won’t even have to think about it.
Write It Down
Research has shown that writing your habits down can be an effective method for getting results. Take 5-30 minutes each week and plan out your schedule. Write down what habits you are trying to develop. Commit.
Stay Committed but Flexible
Even if you have the best intentions sometimes things don’t work out. That’s okay! Remain flexible and reschedule the habit for another time.
It’s easy to get caught up in the “All or Nothing Approach.” When you’re eating healthy and working out everything is great but when you eat something you feel you shouldn’t or skipped a workout you say “Why bother for the rest of the day?’ This is the all or nothing approach.
I encourage you to challenge this process. If you skip a workout, ask yourself “why” and learn from it. Would it be helpful to go to bed earlier or place your workout clothes out the night before?
The point is to learn from your setbacks. If you’re continuing to not follow through on the habits you want to create, then ask yourself why it’s not working and adjust as needed.
Remember… Be patient with yourself.
In summary, as you look ahead to the New Year focus on 1- 2 habits to start with, know your “why,” write down your habits, and stay committed but flexible. You can do it!
I would love to know, what habits are you planning on starting in the New Year?
Feature courtesy of Kristin Willard. Kristin is a Registered Dietitian who teaches bariatric patients how to eat healthy and maintain their weight after surgery. Join her on BariatricWholeLiving.com