It’s tempting, when you know you want to change, to change everything all at once.
It feels like you’re really doing something, taking control, if you do it big and full force.
Making these big sweeping changes feels powerful. Any discomfort at the changes is overshadowed by this sense of power and control.
Until that sense of power begins to wear off, and all you’re left with is discomfort. Everything is different and your brain, who lovesssss homeostasis, is screaming at you to just get back to normal.
But still, if you’re pregnant or postpartum and want to be healthy, you probably don’t know another way than this total lifestyle makeover that is so popular in our culture and the media (Biggest Loser type shows, etc).
But you want permanent results, not to start and stop, start and stop all over again, right? This needs to be sustainable for the long-term.
So if a total lifestyle makeover all in one day doesn’t work in the long-term, what does?
Tiny Lifestyle Tweaks
Let’s say your current breakfast is a fast food breakfast sandwich that you’re scarfing down between red lights on your way to work, washed down with a sugary latte.
Rather than labeling foods “good or bad”, which causes you to go into the restrict/binge cycle (or yo-yo dieting), look at how these foods are affecting you. Do you have indigestion? How does your blood sugar feel after you eat? Are these choices making your long-term goals easier or more difficult? This mindset of non-judgmental evaluation makes your decision less emotional and more rational.
So how can you level-up your breakfast, making it just a little bit better? What *tweak* can you make that will help you feel better and move you closer to your goals, one baby step at a time?
You might decide to leave 5 minutes earlier and eat your breakfast sandwich at work, but mindfully and slowly instead of scarfing it down. You might decide to switch to a coffee with 2% instead of the latte, or one less pump of syrup. Whatever it is, it’s just a tweak.
Once you’re comfortable in this new habit, you take it to the next level with another tiny tweak. Maybe you add some fresh fruit that you can grab and bring with you, or maybe you try your hand at making your own breakfast sandwiches at home that you can bring to work.
When those habits are well-established, you tweak again. You repeat this process until before you know it, you’re waking up a little earlier, sitting down to breakfast where you are slowly and mindfully enjoying a healthy plate of eggs with veggies, fresh fruit, and a huge glass of water along with your coffee (I mean, let’s not get crazy and give up COFFEE😉).
The same goes for getting physical activity in. You’re doing nothing at all? Start with 5 jumping jacks in the morning as soon as you get out of bed, or at lunch before you eat. Then once that is well-established, level up, tweak that, and make it 5 jumping jacks and 5 air squats. Repeat until you are moving for 30+ minutes each day, and that time you never thought you’d find has suddenly appeared.
It’s not uncommon for me to start new clients with a daily exercise routine of 10 reps of exercise if they haven’t been exercising in some time. I learned to do this the hard way when none of my clients could figure out how to fit 30 minutes a day in, and their adherence levels were falling off to zero after the first week or two in my program. But when I had the idea to only assign them 10 jump squats a day instead, suddenly their confidence grew–“I was able to work out every day!” 10 more jump squats felt fine, and before long they were doing full routines. Whereas before, by the 3rd or 4th week, they had completely given up and stopped exercising completely.
So what’s better, the perfect plan that you won’t be able to follow, or taking a baby step towards a goal every day that you CAN follow?
“But Deanna, ______ extreme diet worked for me in the past. I lost weight, I felt good, and it worked fast.”
Consider this: if it HAD worked, wouldn’t you still be following it?
Re-define your definition of what “works” means. If you’re wanting to transform your body temporarily, always bouncing back and forth between meal plans and workout plans and beating yourself up for your lack of willpower along the way, then maybe the total lifestyle makeover is your jam👍🏼.
But for most of us, we don’t want to be fighting a war with our bodies for the rest of our lives. We’d like to make healthy but SUSTAINABLE changes, working with our brains instead of against them.
ACTION: Make a tiny tweak plan for your life. Where are you wanting to make changes, or what do you want to improve? What are the effects of your current lifestyle? Take inventory of those things, and then look over where you can make tiny but sustainable changes to begin.
Once that first tweak is established, you can do the same inventory and find your next “level up” tweak. Keep repeating this process until you are where you want to be and moving towards your goals.