January is a time where the the new year still has a myriad of new possibilities and many of us have thoughts of making positive changes in our lives. Unfortunately by March most of us have fallen back into our old routines and the new year becomes much like the old. Our best intentions have fallen by the wayside, that flash of inspiration we had at the end of last year where we caught a glimpse of what might be has gone. The motivation we had for a few weeks in January has faded away and we are left with the routines and habits of 2011.
Every now and then though you here about someone who has managed to maintain their motivation and has created a new version of themselves, different to that of last year. It might be a fitter, leaner version , a more flexible version, a more successful version or even just a happier version. But when you meet them you know something is different, something has changed within them. These people give the rest of us hope that change is possible.
How have they managed to make fundamental changes to their lives and the rest of us haven’t? They have understood a few basic principles that are necessary to create permanent change.
1. Motivation is fleeting, habits are for life.
Even the most motivated of individuals aren’t motivated 100% of the time. Motivated people recognise that the high level of motivation they have at the moment wont last long andto create new habits.
Habits can be maintained with very little effort. Creating effective exercise, dietary and lifestyle habits is the key to permanent change .
2. Use inspiration and motivation to create new habits
Long term our motivation levels may not be that important but short term we need to use that flash of inspiration and the motivation that follows to create new habits.
Creating new habits invariably involves changing old habits which is why the whole process of change is difficult. As the saying goes – old habits die hard!
Changing old habits wont happen unless you have some very good reasons to do so. Identify why you want to change, what the benefits are and what the consequences of not changing are.
Too often we are half hearted in our attempts to lose weight , reduce our alcohol consumption or exercise more regularly. Unless you are 100% commited then you are destined to fail before you even begin.
When we start on a health kick we seem to be giving up a lot (cakes, chocolate, alcohol etc) and not gaining much since the benefits often take a few weeks to notice.
This is where motivation and inspiration come in. If we can use the initial enthusiasm to get us through the first month of our new routine then the results will start to show, new habits will be created which makes sticking to your new routine far easier.
3. Revisit your Inspiration on a regular basis.
To maintain your motivation levels in the initial period before new habits set in you may need to revisit your inspiration on a regular basis.
Find something that inspires you whether it be a photo of a slimmer healthier you or an inspirational blog, website, book or video and look at it, read, watch or listen to it on a daily basis.
Make sure the source of inspiration is related to your particular lifestyle change. Looking at an inspirational piece of art may not be much good inspiring you to lose 10 kilograms!
4. Planning and Preparation
To often our best efforts are sabotaged by the day to day stuff of our lives. A work meeting that runs late, a child that becomes sick, being stuck in traffic or any of the countless other dramas that occur on a regular basis can interfere with our plans to exercise or eat healthy.
Many of us will use these as an excuse whilst others will find a way to get around the problem.
For some people a late running work meeting means they will have to skip the gym session altogether, others will still make it to the gym but do a shorter workout
I often hear the excuse that a client had no time to get to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a dinner and cook a healthy meal therefore had to eat takeway. If the ingredients were already in the fridge then it would take less time to whip up a simple stir fry than it would ordering and waiting for a takeaway meal
By planning in advance you can overcome most of the small problems life throws at you
5. Let go of the past
Many people will force themselves to eat healthily and exercise whilst at the same time wishing they could go back to eating a chocolate bar every day and sit on the couch in the evening instead of going to the gym.
By giving thought to what you are missing out on you make it so much harder to maintain a healthy exercise and eating routine. Accept that your old lifestyle wasn’t a good long term way of living and embrace the benefits of the new. Think about what you gain and not about what you lose.
Accept that to live a healthy, active long life you need to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
Accept that some people may be able to exercise less and eat more junk food than you and still be fit and lean. No it isnt fair but thats the way life is.
Come to terms with the fact the whether you like exercise or not it is an essential part of maintaining a healthy body and mind.
Understand that the short term pleasure of eating junk or drinking too much is by far outweighed by the long term pain it causes.
Realise that eating junk and drinking too much isnt going to solve any of your problems, isnt going to make you happy and isnt going to help you cope with stress better, all it does is mask the problems.
Believe that you can change and that a happier , healthier, fitter and leaner you is possible.