How To Change Your Life Without Really Trying
Guest blogger Andrea Hurwitz shares her ideas on how to achieve all your hopes and dreams in 2018.
With Valentine’s Day now in the rearview mirror, your New Year’s Resolutions are probably a faint memory. What started out as YOUR YEAR™ has now become just like every other: filled with empty pizza boxes, a new treadmill doubling as a clothes rack, and Netflix getting super judg-y about the amount of House of Cards you’ve been watching (Yes, I’m still watching.).
My theory goes something like this: people hate what they have to change so much, they can’t get through the first few weeks of working towards their goal to see they are making real progress. Here’s a list of helpful tips on how to show ultimate kindness to yourself while you’re trying to start a health journey:
1. Be realistic about where you are now. I’m always amazed by the power of my denial system. If you feel like you’re overweight and can’t look in the mirror without crying, there’s no use in telling yourself you need to look like After Picture Chris Pratt, (spoiler, even Chris says it took 3-4 hours a day of ass-kicking hard work...and no beer). Being honest about something you don’t like about yourself is hard, but telling yourself that you are the one that will make it all better is the first step to empowerment.
2. . . .And don’t hate yourself for it. So you had to buy 6 packs of cookie dough before you were successfully able to not eat the entire batch. There’s being unhappy with where you are and motivated to change (super productive and conducive to lasting change), then there’s calling yourself every name in the book before collapsing in a pile of tears on your bed (super unproductive and not conducive to lasting change).
3. Put yourself on autopilot for the first month. People have said that takes 21 days to make a habit. While this fact may or may not be scientifically sound, it never hurts to set yourself up for success with good habits. So: decide on your goal, brainstorm a list of ways to achieve it, put yourself on autopilot and just DO them. This list of things you can do to reach your goal should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-limited. 21 days will be over before you even realize all the great work you’ve done.
4. Don’t be an idiot. If I’ve learned anything when it comes to behavior change, it’s that people can rationalize ANYTHING: “I need to eat that entire sleeve of Thin Mints because I haven’t eaten anything today I’m feeling super hypoglycemic and I’ll just run for four hours tomorrow”. Smoking ‘just one more’ won’t help you quit smoking, eating a can of frosting doesn’t help you lose weight (trust me on this one), and shoving all your clutter piles in a closet with big plans to clean them later doesn’t make them (or you) more organized. “Don’t outsmart your common sense”. Tell yourself to get a grip and use your common sense to do what you know is right.
5. Tell yourself the opposite. I once read something that said for every assertion you make, the opposite is true as well. So next time you get up and lament how much you hate getting up early to work out, tell yourself that you love the sunrise and having some quality time with yourself, put on your autopilot, and press on (eventually you’ll really find things you love about something you hate).
6. It’s the journey. Believe it or not, you will look back on this time when you’re just starting out with fondness: that lame, overweight, smoker, mess of a person you thought you were? That person did all that hard work that got you to your goal. Working toward a goal is just as fulfilling as achieving the goal itself (and maybe even more important) because you are proving to yourself every day how strong you are!.
So take a deep breath, put on a smile (this totally works), actively turn the negatives to positives and enjoy the ride, because it’s not going anywhere. And don't forget, while you’re working hard to get things done to achieve your goal, there will be those times when autopilot goes offline and threatens to derail you. “Aagghh!! I’m eating carrots and hummus all day and I still look like Edna Turnblad’s sister!?!?!?” But if you can stay positive enough LONG enough to see and feel those changes, it’ll all be coming up 'After Picture' Chris Pratt before you know it.
About the author
Andrea Hurwitz is currently a Master’s Degree student studying Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons College. She enjoys a good book/friend/laugh/cookie. You can find her on twitter at: @HeartyRD2Be