This is a Guest Post from Tom Corson-Knowles. @JuiceTom is the founder of the Authentic Health Coaching show, the #1 Podcast show on Podomatic. Tom blogs regularly about making healthy lifestyle choices, natural weight loss tips, and growing your own fruits and veggies with aeroponics.
We’ve all wanted to change our eating habits at one point or another. Maybe we overate and felt that horrible stomach ache afterwards and thought, “I’m never going to eat that much again!” Or maybe we look down at our gut one day and realize we can’t see our toes anymore – oops! It’s time to change…
But making long-lasting changes to your diet and lifestyle is about more than just WANTING to make the change – you have to back up that desire with some action – the right action.
No, I’m not going to lecture you on the virtues of will-power and self-discipline, or the worst diet cliché, “eating in moderation.” I’m going to give you some rock-solid action steps that WORK – no fluff, no cliché, none of that typical diet advice that’s in one ear and out the other.
This is how you make changes to your diet – and make them stick – forever. Ready to get started?
Make Small Changes
The problem with fad diet programs, besides the fact that they don’t work, is that they try to get you to make MASSIVE CHANGES to your eating habits RIGHT NOW. The problem with this is that your own mind simply won’t let you do something like that – you have a self-defence mechanism in your reptilian brain that protects you from doing anything dangerous.
And your brain must help you defend yourself anytime you make a massive change that is painful (which 99% of the time, it is painful to eat only broccoli all day when you are addicted to eating fast food every day).
So what happens? You start a new diet. You start eating your new food and you think, “Oh god this is terrible! I’d rather eat McDonald’s.” And so your subconscious mind says “this is too painful – we can’t let him do this!” And in a few days you revert back to your old habits – because it’s more comfortable and less painful.
You see, there are two basic human motivations – pain and pleasure. And the pain of that rapid dietary change is SO MUCH GREATER than the pleasure of eating broccoli or the small benefits you will see in the first few days of a new lifestyle diet.
This is why you need to start with small changes. Small changes mean smaller pain – yet, surprisingly enough, just as much pleasure! You see, when you set a goal and achieve it, it doesn’t matter if your goal is to eat 1 apple today or 100 apples today – if you hit your goal, you hit it!
And you will feel just as good having accomplished the 1 apple goal as you would had you accomplished the 100 apple goal. Except, you actually FEEL BETTER accomplishing the smaller goal when it comes to your diet because it’s MUCH LESS PAINFUL.
The Magic Formula
So if you want the magic formula for making dietary changes that last – it’s simply to set smaller goals and achieve them.
There are a few keys that will help up your success rate even more for a dietary change program like this. First, set small goals – we covered that. Just make your goal as small as you can possible make it to start out. Then, once you KNOW you got the hang of it, increase that goal.
For example, if you were going to set the goal of eating the recommended 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, that’s great – for a long-term goal. Now you need to set your goal for tomorrow and next week. Just start with 1 more serving a day – just one apple – and stick to it.
After a week or a month, whenever you feel comfortable, then increase it by one more. It’s SO SIMPLE – yet most people would rather spend hundreds of dollars on fad diet books and trainings than actually set a simple goal and achieve it.
The next key to making sure you stick to it is to track it – track everything. If your goal is 1 apple a day, track every day – how many servings of fruits and vegetables did you eat? Track your baseline before you begin, and every day throughout the process until you’ve got your new habit nailed down.
Tracking does several things that help you succeed. First, it lets you know when you messed up (accountability is key!). Second, it lets you know when you succeed (celebrate every day you hit your goal!). And third, tracking keeps you focused on WHAT YOU CAN DO to improve your health and not WHAT YOU CAN’T DO.
So many people focus on things that are out of their control – and so they feel out of control – and so they don’t do anything at all to improve their situation. When you track it, you know you’re in control – and you will feel better and make better decisions.
I’m wishing you success on your path to a healthier lifestyle!