Maybe it’s the legacy of back to school, but there’s something about September that says ‘new start’…..and who doesn’t need a little prompt to step back, assess what has gone so far and set out plans for next few months. We are approaching the time of year when our health and fitness can easily take a pounding so there’s no better time to address things than right now. But how do you make sure that your efforts will be rewarded with guaranteed success?
If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you have always got….Tony Robbins
If you have tried before to work on your fitness or tackle your weight and not had the sustainable results you hoped for, you’re not alone. Changing behaviour is one of the most challenging things you can do. Our whole body is designed to maintain the status quo and there is a whole network of nerves, hormones and chemical reactions designed to keep that physical equilibrium, known as ‘homeostasis’. Similarly, our brains are programmed to do things the way they have always been done. There are complex behavioural patterns in place that have been formed over time which determine how you respond to a particular event or stimulus.What’s more, any sign of wanting to do things differently will be met with some resistance without you even realising it.
Therein lies the key to success.
The ‘move more’ message has been broadcast loud and clear and most of us have at least a basic knowledge of what a healthy diet looks like….or certainly what it doesn’t look like. Yet the struggle continues. It seems to me that the problem is not in a lack of information but rather, in how to implement it effectively. At the heart of this is managing your mind. It is the beginning of all sustainable and successful change.
So here’s my ‘alternative edit’ of top tips that will make the biggest difference to your results ….and there’s not a HIT session or a kale juice in sight!
- Priority – as women it is in our nature to put everyone else first. Admirable in many ways but not so when you need to work on your own health and fitness. All manner of emotions can kick in from guilt for neglecting others in favour of yourself through to lack of time and energy. The very first step is believing you are worth it, that nothing is more important, and that everyone will be better as a result of it. There’s also a (in some cases harsh) lesson in learning that others can actually cope without you but with it, in time, comes a huge sense of freedom and liberation!
- Inspiration – the ‘why’. Work out the reason why making the change matters to you. Make sure it is powerful and sufficiently motivational to keep you going when things get a bit tough – which they will. Have a reminder of your ‘why’ in all the places you go. Think about it regularly through the day. Let your imagination loose and imagine how you will feel and the things you will do when you get there. Go into as much detail as you can. This has been proven to positively influence the brain and ultimately results.
- Believe – irrespective of what your mind may try and tell you, believe you CAN. Don’t allow it to reference previous attempts where you didn’t succeed. Focus on the positives and continually tell yourself that you can and you will. If you tell yourself you can’t, you won’t. Bannish any negativity. The more the brain sees and hears positive messages, the more it will respond by working with you rather than against you.
- Spot the ‘story’ – all of us have an internal dialogue that goes around in our head. Known as the ‘saboteur’, its job is to keep us safe and to resist change. Learn to recognise the words it uses and be ready to step in and contradict it. Better still, as soon as you spot the ‘I’m too tired..’ ‘I deserve a rest…’ ‘It’s too cold outside’, ‘I’ll just have one..’, I’ll go later…’ type lines stop them in their track and take immediate action. The longer the story goes on the less likely you will be to do what you want to.
- Plot the journey – change is overwhelming and cannot happen all at once. Having defined your vision and crafted your inspiration, break the plan down into clear and manageable chunks so the brain can process what is required. For example, if it is weight loss you are looking for, don’t task yourself with any more than 0.5 – 1kg a week and put the focus on the actions that will get you there. If you want to run 5k, and you can’t run at all at the moment, start with brisk walking and gradually include short periods of jogging (even as short as 30 seconds in the beginning). Tiny steps add up eventually to big results and what’s more you’ll be way more likely to sustain it.
- Accountability – so simple and yet so effective. Whether it is the support of a partner, arranging to meet a friend or enlisting professional support, anything that limits your wriggle room and keeps your mind focused is a good thing. The mind may be able to trick you with its stories but it won’t be able to trick others in the same way!
- Celebrate – often forgotten and so important. Brains like praise and encouragement and they respond brilliantly to a big well done (of the healthy variety of course!). Reward is an important part of the process… and the most enjoyable, so every little step forward deserves big recognition.
We’re always here to help and support you in whatever you are trying to achieve and do post your comments to let us know how you get on!