I'm throwing down a challenge: Could you change your life in four weeks?
In my health coaching practice, I've supported many in achieving their health in fitness goals, but I've also seen others falter and give up. Are the successful people more naturally gifted? Do they have more money? More free time? More resources? Not necessarily.
It's not what the HAVE, but what they DO that leads to achievement of their health and fitness goals:
1. People who achieve their health and fitness goals set a BIG goal and are very clear why they want to achieve it.
By naming that thing you are working toward, you make it real. Identifying the “why” behind your goal is important to keep you motivated. Do you hope to lose weight so you can complete a 5K? Do you want to be fit and active well into old age? Do you have a family history of heart disease that you want to avoid? Be clear about your goal and even clearer on your WHY!
2. Shout your goal from the rooftops.
Your internal motivation is important, but by telling others about your goal, you create external accountability, a huge factor in goal achievement. Hopefully you’ll also generate some cheerleaders to support you along the way. But if you keep it a secret, you've got a quiet escape hatch to abandon your goal at any time. I’ve worked with men and women who don’t want to burden their partners, families or friends with the changes that they want to make. So instead of drafting their support, these clients create challenges for themselves as loved ones unknowingly engage in behaviors that counter their goals. For example, friends may give food gifts (here’s a bag of those cookies you love!), or suggest going out to favorite restaurants where it’s tough to make a healthy choice. Frustrated without a support network, these are frequently my clients who abandon or lower their goals.
3. Honestly assess the habits and environmental triggers that are obstacles to achieving the BIG goal.
Assessing your daily behaviors with brutal honesty can provide some uncomfortable truths: Your beloved daily sugary coffee drinks, your twice-weekly happy hour, the over-indulgent weekly date night with your partner, a consistent habit of late-night snacking, or frequent lunches at your favorite takeout spot could all be preventing you from achieving your fitness goal. Only once you’ve honestly identified these habits can you begin the next step…
4. Create many small actionable behaviors in support of the BIG goal.
Once you’ve identified that BIG goal, and assessed the habits that hold you back, it’s time to identify positive behaviors and actions you can adopt to make progress toward your goal. For example, you may decide to replace that giant coffee drink with a black coffee or plain herbal tea, reserving that special drink for once a month. Committing to bringing lunch every day and including at least one vegetable could make a tremendous difference if you typically rely on takeout. Or you may make a conscious decision to take out your yoga mat in the evening and do some gentle stretching in place of that evening snacking. Small, measurable actions accumulated over time result in a serious lifestyle overhaul.
5. Seek out expert guidance.
The internet is rife with misinformation and multi-level marketing schemes promoting supplements, shakes and get-fit-quick schemes. Your friends and their friends’ friends are full of advice that may or may not be scientifically based. If you’re not sure where to begin to adopt a healthier lifestyle, engage the support of an expert. And if an “expert” makes too-good-to-be-true claims, or makes far-out promises about results, keep looking for another expert .
On October 25th, I'm launching Eat Well, a four-week program running in Towson providing men and women with support to make real, lasting change to their health and their lives. Not only do you have my support in this program, but you'll also have the support of a group of motivated peers. Let's make big change together!