People say “diet” and it immediately conjures up some unpleasant, short-term, negative thing. And since no one goes on a diet hoping to lose a few pounds through sheer misery and willpower before sliding back into old habits, let’s talk about what really works.
Today, I’m sharing some tips to turn that “diet” into a constructive, realistic, organized “lifestyle change,” which opens the door to health changes far beyond the scale. Maybe it’s fitting into a certain pair of jeans. Maybe it’s running a faster mile time. Maybe it’s nailing your first chin up. Ultimately, a true lifestyle change is the key to making your efforts more successful and enduring. So if you’re serious about hitting a certain health goal, here are five absolutely necessary, non-negotiable steps for changing your lifestyle to make it happen.
5 Absolutely Necessary Steps to Start your Lifestyle Change
1. Make a plan!
The most important part of a lifestyle change happens before you even change your lifestyle (say that ten times fast!). It’s the planning, i.e., the precursor to the real change. I’ve changed my habits frequently throughout my life, and the most successful changes have always followed careful planning and consideration. If you think back on the times you’ve improved your lifestyle habits (or attempted to), what really made you change them? Spend some time ruminating on this—it’s going to help, I promise.
Think about it. You can’t just say, “I’m going to eat healthy,” and be done with it. What are you going to change? What are you going to do to change it? Are you going to work out at night? Are you going to buy fresh produce weekly? Know what you’re getting yourself into and exactly what it’s going to take to change your habits! These are what we call your clear and measurable goals and objectives.
2. Write that plan down.
Write. Everything. Down. When I start a serious habit change, I buy a new notebook specifically for it. You can set this up however you like, but here’s what I find helpful:
The first page of the notebook contains my goals. I write down my current numbers and my goal numbers, plus what I want to accomplish (whether that’s weight, BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, resting heart rate, a new yoga move, whatever).
The next page is always my plan, i.e. my objectives. The goal is the grand scheme. It’s the marathon you want to run next year. It’s 20 pounds of weight loss. Whatever it is, the objectives are the little goals that will help you reach the big goal. For instance, if the goal is to eliminate processed foods, an objective would be to shop at your local farmer’s market weekly. If the goal is to run a marathon in six months, the objective would be to run three miles three times a week, building from there. Whatever your goal, writing these things down helps you keep track of them and quantify your progress. If you can’t measure your progress, you’re less likely to stay motivated.
After my objectives, I write about my motivations. I collect all of the things that inspire me to reach my goal and write them down in one place. This is personal—maybe you want the energy to run around with your kids or you’d like to fit into that old pair of size 25 jeans.
Finally, include a schedule, and then track your habits.
3. Have a specific start date and checkpoints.
Plan to start your lifestyle change on a specific day. Don’t just dive into it—allow yourself time to plan things out and ease into your new routine. But don’t consider this space leading up to the big day a license to eat as much junk as possible before your plan goes into action, either. Instead, use the time to make yourself more successful. Find recipes and meal planning guides, and plan workouts in your schedule that you can prioritize just like appointments. Build your Bumpin Blends box so you always have a healthy, filling meal within reach!
Once things begin, check in with yourself. Instead of saying you’ll be 15 pounds lighter in 2 months, make realistic, short-term goals that move you closer to the big goal. By planning on a moderate weekly change, you’re asking yourself for accountability today, not a month from now.
4. Start with a reset button.
The hardest part of a new habit is the beginning. It is almost impossible to go from eating cookies and a zillion calories a day to eating veggies and what feels like zero calories a day. Detoxing your body allows you to feel like you’ve hit a reset button. You don’t need to do a juice cleanse, but eating pure smoothies and veggies for a couple days can make you crave those foods again (and Bumpin Blends makes it easy!).
Set yourself up for success with a detox at home, too. Rid your house of leftover cookies, candy, and any other unhealthy junk that you don’t want around. Make your home conducive to good habits in any way you can, whether that means laying out clothes so you can jump straight into a morning workout or stocking the freezer with a few of your favorite Bumpin Blends. : )
5. Find support and motivation.
I don’t know about you, but I hate to fail. For me, one of the worst parts of failing is everyone knowing I did. If you allow yourself to find support and motivation in your friends and family, or even online sources, you’re more likely to stick to your goals. Establishing that support system means you have a whole group of people who want you to succeed and who believe in you enough to talk you out of quitting when the going gets tough.
Quick reminder for those of you pinning photos of fitness models or celebrities for inspiration—remember that these images are often heavily filtered and photoshopped, that these photos are professionally lit and styled and edited, and that what you’re looking at is very rarely a true reflection of that person in real life. Right? Right. Maybe let’s not use those, mkay?
The Bottom Line
If you’re serious about changing your life, you have to actually take steps to change your life. It’s not a short-term thing. I’ve found these five steps are absolutely necessary for real, lasting change, but if I’ve missed anything, I’d love to hear what you’ve found to be successful!