Sitting in the middle of muckety muck: That’s how it feels when you’re struggling to eat a healthier diet. You can see your diet weaknesses and may even know how to fix them, but you can never move forward.
Why is it so hard to make diet changes and how can you eat healthier for the smokin’ body you want?
When I begin my online training groups for women, I ask members to tell me about their biggest struggles around getting healthier. I hear things like…
- No time or lack of discipline to prepare food ahead
- Snacking at night
- Not eating enough or forgetting to eat
- Binging on sweets and beer on the weekends
- Eating out too frequently
- Sticking to the right portions
- Missing workouts
Sound familiar? If so, that’s because you are among many other women who have trouble eating healthier and losing fat. It’s not that you’re doing something wrong, it’s that doing shit differently is tough… unless you have the right method and mindset.
Integrating Lifestyle Changes Into Your… Life
There’s nothing wrong with wanting lifestyle changes to be easy; our lives are packed with obligations and responsibilities. Look at it this way: Small steps repeated turn into a lifestyle. After awhile, it becomes so automatic that it takes hardly any thought at all.
Here’s how to get started on the right foot.
Step 1. Stop Setting Horrible Goals
Let’s take an example: Nighttime snacking. It’s a habit that, if you go over your TDEE, can cause you to store more fat and also feel pretty crappy about yourself.
There you are, eating extra calories at the end of the day with no chance of burning them off. But it’s a tough habit to change because it takes willpower, healthy snack ideas, and the support of your partner (in this example).
What will it take to end nighttime snacking? A few things come to mind: (1) Eat enough during the day, (2) find something else to do at night, and/or (3) buy low-calorie alternatives. See what I mean? These are steps, to be done over time.
“Eliminate nighttime snacking” is a horrible goal because it’s too big… There are many small steps involved with changing a habit. You’ve failed before you even started because you don’t have a first step. You’ve put the goal before the steps.
2. Start SMALL
Making lifestyle changes manageable is key. It’s completely overwhelming and usually fruitless (or veggie-less) to set a global goal. Instead, we integrate unobtrusive changes into our daily life that have a very small footprint (called micro-goals).
In our nighttime snacking example, you’ll decide on ONE small thing you can do differently. You’ll commit to doing this one thing on specific days. Something like this:
- “I’ll buy carrot sticks on the way home from work today and eat them instead of chips on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.”
Doesn’t sound too painful, does it?
After you’ve successfully integrated the goal as a habit – and that could take a few weeks – you can start working on a new goal. For example:
- “I’ll eat 20-30 grams of protein at dinner on Friday and Saturday so I can feel full longer.”
If you still want to snack even when you’re full, you need to tackle the emotion piece: boredom, stress, or depression. So your next micro-goal might be:
- “The next time I feel the urge to snack even when I’m hungry, I’ll journal my feelings instead (or take a walk).”
3. DEMAND the Right Mindset
One of the first things I work on with my clients is their mindset. You simply have no idea how much your attitudes and thoughts are sabotaging you. Stop the negativity! Use micro-goals to ban despairing words and thoughts.
Start by catching yourself when you say or write negative things. Make a micro-goal to spot check what you write to other people before sending: Can I replace this with something more positive? Did I assume I’ll succeed instead of fail?
Your words can hurt you. Your thoughts can ruin you. Thinking positive isn’t just a cliche… it’s a formula for success.
4. Move MORE
I’m not going to mince words here: ANY activity you do helps you to get leaner and healthier. Walking and standing are underrated ways of losing fat.
Making moving more a micro-goal helps it feel manageable and doable, not daunting and stressful. One client of mine lost 15 pounds by changing her diet and increasing her daily steps – no other activity. She went from an average of 2,000 steps per day to over 8,000, and she did this by using micro-goals.
Get after it with your dreams – you can have the health and physique you want. Just start – and stay – small, and you will find success.
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.