Have you ever wondered why so many people fail at big life changes like losing weight or getting fitter? More often than not, it’s because – as strange as this may sound at first – they go all in, all at once. They try to change everything all at once. Which usually results in nothing changing at all. Developing healthy life habits that last calls for a different approach.
Why ‘All In’ Doesn’t Work
The motivation behind ‘going all in’ pursuing healthy life habits is a reasonable enough one. Take losing weight. We all know that losing weight is hard and so we tend to tackle it with a big, sudden effort, by getting into some slightly odd eating plan (eat like a caveman, eat like a rabbit, or whatever the fad diet of the day is) that is hugely restrictive and requires quite a lot of work to follow as well.
And things usually start well. But then, because the whole thing feels so oppressive we start slipping. Running a bit late for work with no time to make that required egg white omelette with kale we stop by the closest fast food joint, but just this once. Or your child’s concert recital one night means you miss an exercise class and a meeting at work the next day means you skip another. Soon enough you are back where you started with little to show for it. Or not quite where you started, because you have now also acquired a whole lot of new guilt over failing again.
Sounds all too familiar? The fact is that many sensible weight-loss programs work (eating like a caveman maybe not.) Most sensible fitness programs work. The problem isn’t with the programs–the problem lies in the fact those programs require such major changes to our daily activities and lifestyles. It’s impossible to make every change overnight. And so we fail. And end up feeling miserable in the process. And give up.
Since giving up on what are good, healthy ideas is not a good idea either, what are the alternatives? How about starting small, by implementing these five very simple healthy life habits today.
Drink a Glass of Water Before Every Meal
It’s a given that everyone needs to drink more water. It will help improve your digestion, clear the skin a bit and keep you away from those tempting but tasty sodas. There is another big benefit though; drinking that glass of water before you eat will already fill you up a bit, so you won’t be as tempted to eat beyond the point when you are full just to clean your plate as you might usually do.
Make Just One Meal Really Healthy
Pick a meal, it really doesn’t matter which one, and vow to make it the one truly healthy meal you eat a day. For many lunch may be the easiest though as it’s often the one meal eaten away from the rest of the family. Get into the habit of taking lunch to work to help you stick to your plan. It does not have to be very complicated. A can of tuna and two apples. A skinless chicken breast and some cucumbers. And make sure you have it all ready to go when your break begins. That way you won’t even have to think about eating healthy, you just will.
Get Active at Lunchtime
It won’t take you an hour to eat tuna and apples, so do something more productive than standing around indulging in the usual watercooler gossip. Get outside and go for a walk. Close your office door and do some stretches and simple exercises like push-ups. Again, it does not even really matter what you do, as long as you do something.
Eat a Meal-replacement Bar
Remember those snack times we discussed? A couple of times a week make one of them a meal replacement bar. Not the dieter’s kind, but the protein enriched ones (most pack 15-25g of protein) as that will give you a nice energy boost naturally. And as most of them taste very nice this is one of those healthy life habits you can actually enjoy adopting.
Set Yourself a Weekly Physical Challenge That’s Fun
The gym is boring, however fancy it is. That’s why going there on a regular basis is such a tough thing to stick to. One thing you can do to reignite your passion for physical exercise is to set yourself a weekly physical challenge to complete. But not one like “walk five miles on the treadmill at a 7 percent incline”, that’s boring and it’s a yardstick, not a challenge.
A challenge is something like “hike 5 miles through/across X trail” “swim 5 miles in Lake/River X”, or even just “survive 90 minutes of soccer with the kids”. Not only will these be far more interesting for you but it’ll also sound far more impressive around the watercooler as well!
The best thing about implementing these small, easy to get started changes is that as you manage to stick with them adding others gradually will be easier and suddenly one day you’ll realize that you did indeed ‘go all in’ and succeed, you just never really noticed it!