It’s that time of year again when work is back in full swing, and those pesky New Year’s resolutions are being placed on the back burner. The winter blues have hit (will it ever end?) and all you want is to curl up, ignore your gym bag and enjoy some chocolate and bad reality TV. And for some reason having one day of laziness just makes it that much easier to completely stop all attempts at healthy habits.
While New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to get started on healthy habits, keeping up with them can be tricky. But the secret to healthy habits might just be to look at things differently. Here are some ideas for changing your mindset to help you reach your goals:
Reassess: Maybe you’ve lost some of your motivation because your goal to lose 20 lb. in a single month didn’t work. You felt like you worked your butt off, and ate mostly green foods (despite those constant cookie cravings) but the results you got were not what you hoped for. Ask yourself if the goal was actually attainable. Did you set high and unlikely expectations? Perhaps try to recreate your goal, using the SMART method. Ask yourself is the goal Specific? Measureable? Attainable? Realistic? And Timely?
Ditch the all or nothing attitude: many of us suffer from “all or nothing” – the idea that we behave either completely healthily or completely unhealthily. But having an all or nothing attitude can be more detrimental than helpful. It can make indulging in a brownie, or taking a single day off from exercise feel like the end of world. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for taking that day off from the gym when it was -16C degrees outside. This should not stop you from getting back on schedule the rest of the week. A balanced approach to healthy living involves setting realistic goals. This allows for a day off from exercise or a cookie once in a while without feeling guilty.
Try something new: sometimes we can get ourselves into a rut with healthy living. Perhaps we only know how to use the elliptical at the gym. Or we only really know two or three healthy recipes, and after a month of steamed broccoli, brown rice, and chicken, we’re feeling a bit bored. Go out and find a new vegetable you’ve never tried before, such as kale (a delicious dark green vegetable). At the gym try out one of their spin classes, or that dance class you kept telling yourself you had to be in better shape for; there is no time like the present!
Reward yourself: you’ve come a month into your healthy living plan, and honestly that’s pretty good. Don’t let yourself be discouraged if you have not met your overall goal yet. Sometimes getting to the end result can take a little longer then we want. By being focused on the big achievement you are working towards, it is easy to forget the little things. So maybe you have not lost 20 lb. yet, but perhaps you have stopped snacking after dinner, or maybe you have more energy during the day since you began to exercise. If you’ve done one or two small things right, it’s important to acknowledge it. It is the small lifestyle changes that lead to long term, sustainable results!
— Bronwyn Coyne is a dietetic intern with Interior Health