Oh f**k it! I give up! How many times do we say those words? Well, maybe not exactly those words but you know what I mean. We start something new with all the passionate enthusiasm of a child wearing big pants for the first time and then what happens? The newness wears off, we wander slowly towards mundane and then its just a few steps to “what new project? Oh that, yes um well…….[quiet muttering]”
How do we go from rampant excitement to complete indifference, or even irritation, in a few short months or weeks? I think pretty much everyone likes to experience new things, even if they might have some trepidation before hand, and people often like a challenge but, sometimes, we start at point A and focus all our attention on point Z without realising that we have points B, C, D, E etc in between the two.
This is one of the reasons that so many diets fail. People have an idea in their mind of what they’ll look like when they’ve lost 40lb and it’s an image that pleases them so they decide to lose weight. A quick search on Google brings up 91,800,000 diet plans (I checked) and they pick one; all is well, they have a goal in mind and then they have the novelty of a new mental focus – counting calories. This can be quite fun at first, until you realise that all the foods that you would normally eat have so many calories that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot shoehorn them into your new regime without cutting down to one meal a day. Either that or you have to completely change your shopping habits and try to persuade the proprietor of your local small shop that there will be a huge demand for quinoa and chia seeds if he would but stock them and what does he mean he’s never heard of Swiss chard???
So there you are, 3 months down the line, spending 2 hours in the supermarket every time you shop, calculator in hand, trying to work out the calorie content of your weekly shop and wondering how you will ever face your local shopkeeper again after he got stuck with the 400 packets of Quinoa that you persuaded him to buy……
Then there’s all the money that you spent on all that new exercise gear. Of course, when you decide to lose weight, it’s not actually mandatory to spend $300 on a pair of trainers or to equip yourself with the entire Nike Spring line but, let’s face it, shopping is fun and wearing the new clothes will be fun and, no doubt, the exercise will be fun when you finally get round to it. Not everybody does ever get round to it but if you’re a bit more of the determined type you might rock up to your local gym with every good intention. It will be at that point that, faced with the mirror covered walls, that you’ll realise that lycra is not the most forgiving of fabrics; you can just wear leggings or shorts and an ordinary t-shirt……
All of this is going straight to Z, and putting enormous pressure on yourself to boot, so don’t do it. You honestly don’t need to. The fact that you have a leaner and healthier image of yourself in your mind is a fantastic starting point but just accept that it might take a little while to get there. In the meantime, give yourself permission to celebrate each little achievement on the way – if you only lose 2 ounces in one week – so what? The fact is that you have taken a step in the right direction.
Don’t change all your eating habits over night and don’t expect to learn the calorie content of every food on the planet before you die – it won’t happen! Instead, focus on eating less than you do now. If you want a little bit extra to do, write down everything that you eat today – drinks included – and, tomorrow, reduce that amount by 10%. The next day write another list and do two things:
- Notice that the list of today is smaller than yesterday’s list and write yourself a little message of congratulations
- Reduce today’s list by 5% – that’s all.
Do the same thing again the next day and see what happens but don’t forget to write yourself a ‘well done me – I’m awesome’ message (in your own words obviously).
You don’t have to lose 5lbs a week, the diet gods will not smite you if you don’t; all you need to do is take things slowly but surely and, little by little, you’ll get there.
The same thing applies to exercise, you’re not going to transform into Usain Bolt overnight! What you can do is write down what exercise you do on day 1 and, on day 2 just do 10 minutes more. That’s it. Just an extra 10 minutes – we can all spare that, however busy our days are. Try that for a week and then, the following week go for an extra 15 minutes and so on.
It may have been one giant leap for mankind but it started with one small step ;O) x