It’s that time of year again. January 1st is almost upon us. We want to make changes, we need to make changes in our lives but we’ll use the next few weeks as our excuse: too many parties, deadlines to meet, too much temptation around and too busy to exercise.
How many of us have come to January 1st, changed our ways for the better for a few weeks or a few months only to go back to our old ways again? (My hand is raised high in the air right now.)
In another category are those of us who have given up. Perhaps we feel destined to be the person we are. Too many years of unhealthy habits and bad ways have got the best of us. We don’t even know how much better we can feel because clean eating and exercise have always felt like work. Life should be enjoyable, after all. Who wants to have to work that hard every day?
I don’t claim to be a psychotherapist, but having spoken with so many folks who want to change their health, here are my thoughts: We tend to cling to self-destructive and negative behaviors because these actions are familiar and safe to us. It’s hard for any us to understand how much our lives will be improved when we find something, some alternative way of behaving that we feel passionate about to take the place of unhealthy rituals.
This time of year is filled with traditions, some great and some destructive. Ever ask your parents and grandparents why they do what they do? I find it so crazy when the answer is: simply because this is the way they’ve always been done. We dispel new approaches to doing even the most simple of tasks and refuse to try new things to hide and cling on to our past.
Let’s face it; change is hard because it’s scary, especially when it comes to our own health. We state publicly that we are going to lose weight, get in better shape and eat better. Oh no, now it’s out there, what if we fail? What will people think? “Oh, there she goes again on another fad diet.” “Why is she exercising? She doesn’t need to exercise, she looks great.” “He hasn’t exercised in years, how does he think he can do it now?”
Why do humans care so much about what other people think? Get all that noise out of your head. Most people don’t care about anyone but themselves.
The key word is “process.” Nothing worthwhile happens overnight. Varying your routine is going to be difficult and there will be days when you don’t stick to your plan. But with patience, perseverance, and support change happens.
Then, more amazing thing starts to happen along with it. A small pattern kicks in. You politely say no to the bad food around the office because you begin to realize how crappy you’ll feel afterward and feeling good feels…well…really good lately. You make room in your schedule tomorrow because the workout felt pretty good today. You become one of those “weirdo health nuts” that you used to scoff at. And, people start to take notice. But, that is not what keeps you coming back. What makes you show up is your child smiling at you when you come home from a run, or the patience that you’ve gained when in a stressful situation or the unhealthy cells passed down genetically that you know you’re killing off one small cell at a time.
You can feel so much better no matter what your age, genetic make-up, medical history or lack of exercise over the years. You can feel really great and still eat tasty food. You can exercise and have fun at the same time. All you have to do are four simple things:
- Tell yourself that you can change. Everyone has that inside of them, everyone.
- You may have heard my brother Tony Horton say this and think its silly, but it works: Take the word “failure” out of your vocabulary. Replace it with something else like: “I’m presently working on…,” Or “I am currently struggling with…”
- Have a plan. This is critical. You won’t succeed by winging it every day. In 2004 I found the plan that worked for me. I have stuck with variations of it to this day and I feel pretty darn terrific at the age of 51, 90% of the time. I am a big believer in having a workout plan, especially if exercise is not part of your daily routine. It has to be doable and something that won’t have you quitting on day three. I’m happy to help you select the plan that will work for both your fitness level and personality type.
- Get accountability partners. If change is so hard, how can you expect to go at it alone? An accountability partner is the person that is there for you when you slip up, they are the people that encourage you, support you and motivate you. They make you successful because you are in it with them and you both have the same common goal. This is another absolute necessary part of the equation. When I mess up, which I often do, my accountability partners are the people that keep me on that patient, steady climb toward success. My successful days now outnumber my not-so-successful ones because of my accountability partners. I gathered people in a private group well over 6 years ago. We call ourselves “Team Thrive.” If you’d like to join the group, message me back.
If you’d like help figuring out a plan, even it’s not with a Beachbody product, or want to be part of one of my groups, please write me back and let’s set up some time to talk.
What are YOUR ideas for changing behaviors that last? Selfishly, I’d love to hear them. Comment below.