There’s nothing more exciting than deciding to take a leap of faith a pursue your fitness goal. Whether it be to lose 10lbs, fit back in your old skinny jeans, or just improve your overall fitness, deciding to take on this challenge is a BIG DEAL. I really want to acknowledge this because, especially for beginners, this is a huge step in the right direction.
All that being said, so many people resolve to make big changes, only to fall flat after just a couple of weeks… What gives?
One of the biggest mistakes I see women make is that they try to go from point A to Z in one fell swoop.
They try to run before they can walk.
Samantha decides she is finally going to take action and lose the 20lbs she’s been wanting to get rid of for YEARS. There is nothing in the world that she wants to achieve more than that goal. So in a fit of excitement, she buys a new pair of trainers, the Lulus she’s always had her eye on, and gets a membership at a swanky new gym. Samantha makes a plan to go to the gym every morning before work, and resolves that she will be eating strictly healthy – no sugar, no bread, no dairy, and NO chocolate.
The first week goes great! Sure, she can barely move from all the muscle soreness and might kill the next coworker that offers her a doughnut, but it’s fine! On the second week, she is so exhausted that she sleeps through her alarm and misses her workout, then binges on the office pastries for breakfast. By dinner she finds herself on the couch with Chinese takeout and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Come week 3, she’s completely given up on her plan to get fit and is right back where she started.
Now of course Samantha is just a fictional character, but this is a behaviour I see time and time again with women. Trust me, I totally get it – This is even something I went through myself before I made health and fitness a lifestyle. You want that end result SO BADLY (and ideally as quickly as possible), that you completely eliminate every unhealthy habit you have in the blink of an eye.
Why this doesn’t work
While it might be tempting to try to take the fast road (and with the fitness industry constantly throwing fast-fix weight-loss programs your way, I can’t blame you), ultimately this is not going to lead to success. Why?
When we make sudden lifestyle changes, we can usually stick it them for a week or two because our excitement and motivation pull us through. But motivation fades fast, so we can’t strictly rely on it to take us to our goals. We need to rely on consistent habits, and the only way you’re going to form these healthy habits that are going to LAST is to start off slow.
At the end of the day, what’s better: To lose 20lbs in a month, only to immediately gain it back (and then some) as soon as you go back to your regular habits? Or lose 20lbs over the course of 3 or 4 months, and keep it off forever because those healthy habits have now become a regular part of your daily life? I think we all know the answer to that…
What to do:
I want you to get a piece of paper and write down one change you eventually would like to make.
Let’s say one habit you want to get into is going to the gym 4x/week.
First, we need to determine what your starting point is. Let’s say you’re currently getting exercise in 1x/week.
Instead of jumping in head first and going to the gym 4 times on the first week, I want you to ease into it. Essentially you’re going to make small changes and incremental steps every 2 weeks. By waiting two weeks, you’re giving your body and your mind time to adjust to the new habit.
Write out your plan to take baby steps every 2 weeks until you reach your goal:
GOAL: Gym 4x/week
Week 1 – 2: 2x/week
Week 3 – 4: 3x/week
Week 5+: 4x/week
Let’s use another example: A nutrition example.
Let’s say you want to start eating 5 servings of veggies/day but you currently only eat 2. We’re going to use the same process to break our goal down into incremental steps every 2 weeks.
GOAL: 5 servings of veggies/day
CURRENT: 2 servings/day
Week 1-2: 3 servings/day
Week 3-4: 4 servings/day
Week 5+: 5 servings/day
While it might take you longer to get to your end goal, you’ll have made the change in such a way where you’re going to stick with it because you’ve introduced it slowly over time to the point where it’s become a habit for you.
The goal here is really to take baby steps. By easing into things, you’re going to create a lifestyle that’s sustainable and you’re going to get results that will last.