Most people say that making the decision to change is the hardest step. I disagree. I find it easy to decide this time and time again. I find the hardest step is actually starting to implement the changes you’ve talked about for so long. Turning your thoughts and words in to actions is, in my opinion the hardest, and most important, step of the whole process. For me, this step can too easily and too often be delayed or avoided all together. So, the decision has been made. It’s now time to knuckle down and get cracking!
I’ve been here a few times before. By ‘here’ I mean at the start of a new ‘health kick’. I’ve tried different methods and approaches over the years working in the fitness industry, and I’ve now come up with a plan that works for ME. I’ve learnt that I can’t wait until I’m all fired up and raring to go, because I usually crash and burn pretty quickly. Once the adrenaline dips, I’ve either no passion to see it through, or I go at it like a bull in a china shop and physically and mentally burn out quickly. So, for me, I have to have a ‘lead in’ period to implementing my changes. Call it smoothing the way with myself, so I maximise my chances of sticking at it and seeing it through!
The first thing I do is accept that it will take at least three weeks for me to feel comfortable with my new lifestyle again. After all, there is a lot that has to change. First of all I want to change my eating schedule, the content of my food, the time it takes to prepare and store it as well as choosing to avoid certain ‘traps’ that may lead me down the road to unhealthy eating again. So this not only is a food preparation and food choice issue, but it’s also a mental one. I usually take this first week or two to continue to eat as I am (yes, chocolate and Chinese as usual!) but I make a mental note of what I’m eating, where I’m eating it, why I’m eating it and how I feel eating it. I usually don’t change what I’m eating, and usually don’t find myself refusing that ice cream: I simply ask myself those questions as I eat it. This helps me realise lifestyle patterns and reasons behind my choices. But also it prepares me mentally for how I will feel in a couple of weeks, when I’m faced with that ice cream and I want to say no to it. I imagine this happening, so I mentally prepare myself. That way I don’t find it to be such a struggle, cause I’ve already ‘talked’ to myself about it for two weeks!
Then of course, there is the exercise side of things. In some ways, this can be the easiest AND the hardest part for me. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m in the thick of it two months down the line I love it: but STARTING it again is a real struggle. I get a real mixture of frustration (because I remember how fit and strong I used to be), depression (because I think I’ll never achieve it again) and despair (because I realise that of course I CAN achieve it again – but it’s going to take a lot of time and effort!). So physically and mentally, this can be the hardest part for me.
That said though, I know the benefits and I know that I have made the decision to embark on the journey. This journey is for ME. Not for anyone else. So if I crash and burn, it’s only me who will lose out. This is another reason why I don’t put loads of pressure on myself. I find that doesn’t help, so that’s why I’m giving myself lots of time to achieve my goals. I’m not trying to do all this in four weeks. That’s near enough impossible, or at the very least impractical. I understand that I’m not a professional athlete or fitness model who can spend their days working on their physique. I have a very busy life. I run a business. I have a house. I have a (very active!) four year old. I have a family. I have hobbies. I like to socialise with my friends. I am REALISTIC. I appreciate that I have a lot of issues going on in my personal life at the moment that will require my attention and will throw me ‘off plan’. So I also accept that although I will make a plan each Sunday for the following week, I am 100% certain that this will change; probably most weeks. (I use the chart below: feel free to pinch it for yourself if you think it may help!). But the key to success, and not giving up, is that I already know this will happen and therefore won’t stress out when it does occur. I won’t throw the towel in at the first hurdle and think ‘oh well, it’s not working, there’s no point’. Sometimes my bulging biceps will shift down the pecking order of importance, as priorities change. I’ll simply let life happen, and then re-work my plan to get back on track as much as possible. It’s all about being realistic and flexible.
I don’t look at the mountain I still have to climb. I focus on what I have already left behind me. Bring it on.