8 Ways to Stick to a Lifestyle Change

You know you want to make a change. You want to see what life is like without extra weight on your body. You’re committed to healthy habits. So what’s next?

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Plan things out!

Planning can also get you psyched up about new things to try or doing things you enjoy.

1.  Prepare for each destination

Think about what you’ll need to stick to your healthy habits everywhere you go: home, work, school, favorite restaurants and friends’ houses.

2.  Have a motivating kitchen. Have cut up vegetables ready for you in the fridge. Apples and oranges in the fruit basket.  A jar of nuts.

If your church often has potlucks, what would make you feel the best about your choices when it’s over?

  • Bring a healthy dish and only eat it.
  • Ask your congregation to only bring healthier options.
  • Have someone else fill your plate so you don’t have to recommit at every dish.

There are lots of ways to get through the situation without abandoning your goals. Think creatively and ask someone you trust to help.

2.  Plan for the family and friends you’ll see along the way.

 There will be people who are for you — happy to support you in your weight loss. And there will be people against you — not so supportive. You may already know who they are.

You need to be prepared for both types.

Think of each person you spend time with in your daily life, and ask yourself these questions to set up a game plan:

  • How much do you want to share with them about your efforts?
  • What kind of obstacles do you expect from them? What are a few ways you can respond to them?
  • What kind of help do you hope they’ll offer you? Think through the best way to talk with them about what you need. Don’t be afraid to be specific about what helps you and what doesn’t.

3.  Check your readiness to deal with telling people what you want and being able to turn down things that hurt your diet and exercise plan.

Even with help and support, the buck stops with you.

4.  Find ways to assist you in setting yourself up for success.

For instance, are you worried that you can’t meet your goal? Now’s the time to identify and sort out those feelings.  See a therapist or go to Weight Watcher meetings or Overeaters Anonymous.  Go to a medical weight loss program and get the guidance and support that you might need.

To change behavior, experts say you must have the ability to do the required new habits. So, it’s key that you choose habits that you can follow through with.

Let’s say you’ve picked a food plan with foods or styles of eating that you don’t like — say, one that omits all carbs when you love carbs. Or you pick one that’s impossible to stick with, like eating cabbage soup twice a day. If you keep moving forward with that plan instead of adjusting it, you’re crushing your ability to succeed.

As part of your preparation, ask yourself: Why do I want to make changes?

Your reason will be most motivating when it’s linked with a strong emotional state. Instead of simply “wanting to lose weight,” the reason could be “because I want to have more energy” or “not be in pain.”

5.  Focus on the feeling you want to have.

Set up cues to remind you about your motivation. A good cue is one that you’ll be sure to notice and that occurs near the time for your healthy habit. You could open your blinds in the morning to cue you to take your vitamin, or set an alarm.

Even when you take the actions you need, there’s always a risk of relapsing to your old ways. So have a clear sense of what you want — it’s like an energy reserve. It gets you back on track when you need it.

6 Expect Curves Ahead

There are two important truths about change:

  • It happens slowly and over time.
  • The path to change most likely isn’t a straight line.

One day you might be plugging along, committed to living healthfully. Then you have a stressful day or two — at work, or yoga class is canceled — and zap! Your motivation is blown.

At times like this, you have to think about how to adjust your schedule to stay, or get back, on track. You have to map out a new plan.

Tell yourself that it’s normal to hit a few speed bumps on the road to changing your behavior for good.

7.  Count on the fact that you’ll lose your way.

Just like an emergency kit in your car, you need to have tools ready for the unexpected.

Here are a few potential pitfalls that could sway you off track. Reinforce your resolve by thinking through possible solutions ahead of time.

  • What will you do when a coworker brings in homemade cookies?
  • How will you move on if you fall back into your old habits? Like overeat or skip the gym?
  • How will you cope when you feel stressed?
  • Who can you call for help?

8.  Make adjustments to curve balls.

Don’t punish yourself if you fall off track.

Imagine you’re driving somewhere. Let’s say you get off at the wrong exit. What would you do?

Just start again and don’t give up.  Life is a journey.  The idea is the journey and the destination is a goal, but don’t beat yourself up if it takes longer to get there.  Learn how to deal with setbacks and don’t beat yourself up.

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